Maíra Ferreira: Review


The 29-member choir slowly filled to the front of stage in the semi-lit sanctuary. The organ pipes and stain-glassed windows reflected the grandeur of the large room.

When Maíra Ferreira entered, applause followed her to the podium. She gracefully opened her music, made eye contact with the choir and raised her arms.

Ferreira, a Brazilian graduate student, gave a stunning performance this past Saturday evening at Broadway United Methodist Church.

Ferreira’s program began with two different versions of “If Ye Love Me” by Thomas Tallis and Philip Stopford. The first “If Ye Love Me” was written at the beginning of a movement in the 16th century in which pieces were sung in English, according to the program notes.

Ferreira wrote that she put these two a capella pieces together to “highlight the evident contrast of handling the dissonance and the similar way that both composers managed musical ideas inspired by the text.”

The second piece on the program contained two selections from J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in D major, BWV 243, mvts. III and IV. Ferreira conducted this piece from the organ.

Ferreira mentioned in her program notes that March 21, the day she had her recital, was Bach’s birthday. The two movements were performed in honor of this.

The third movement had a beautiful soprano solo that intertwined with an oboe.

The fourth movement was very fast, which required them to keep the energy level high. Ferreira also appeared as though she were dancing with the rhythm as she played and conducted with her head and hands.

The next piece on the program was Johannes Brahms’ “Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 65.” Ferreira conducted movements’ Nos. 12 and 14. This piece was accompanied by two pianists at one piano.

The music itself was expressive and pleasant to listen to. Ferreira was articulate in this piece; she used small motions to show softer dynamics and opened up her arms wide to include the entire choir and the pianists when the music became climactic.

Movement II from “Trois Chanson” by Maurice Ravel followed the Brahms’ piece. Ferreira’s notes explained that the piece was written between 1914 and 1915 and “is composed for four soloists and [an] unaccompanied choir. The soprano soloist is mainly in charge of telling the story, while the choir sings the accompaniment.”

The audience was essentially surrounded by voices; the acoustics in the sanctuary allowed the voices to be clearly heard from all areas.

After this piece, the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s “6 Lieder, for Male chorus, Op. 50” was performed. This piece was a “Turkish drinking song,” according to the program notes.

Ferreira was very rhythmic with her motions to show the jaunty rhythm of the piece.

A member of the audience whispered, “Fun piece,” after the song ended.

The next piece in the program was “Te Deum in C major” by Haydn, which required an orchestra.

Ferreira was poised during this performance; she used clear and direct conducting patterns to keep the choir and orchestra together.

“In Paradisum,” for a capella choir, followed the Haydn piece. This work was written by Harriet Steinke, a current student composer at Butler University.

The program notes mentioned the following about the piece: “The text of this piece comes from ‘In Paradisum,’ which is the last of the texts from the traditional Latin liturgy of the Catholic Requiem Mass or ‘Mass for the Dead.’”

The program notes also mentioned, “The compositional techniques in this piece highlight the ethereal nature of the text, functioning as the final prayer prior to burial during Mass.”

The piece itself filled the church sanctuary with its interesting and wonderful harmonies.

The second to last piece on the program was a spiritual by Moses Hogan titled “I’m Gonna Sing ‘Till the Spirit Moves in My Heart.” The program notes mentioned that this piece was written “for a small group of soloists, alternating its main theme with unaccompanied choir.”

Two men had respective solos to begin the piece.

Before her last piece, Ferreira gave a touching speech to the attendants of the concert and ended by speaking in Portuguese to her family, who were watching her from Brazil via webcam.

The last piece was, fittingly, a Brazilian piece called “Canções e Momentos” by Milton Nascimento and Fernando Brant and arranged by Mara Campos.

The program notes included the following about the piece: “[The piece] describes the feeling that emerge from the similarities between songs and moments that turn out to be inexplicable, indefinable and out of control.”

The piece began peacefully and filled the sanctuary beautifully. Suddenly, the conductor picked up a tambourine that rested on her podium and began playing it with amazing rhythmic vitality, completely changing the mood of the piece.

While she played the tambourine, Ferreira mouthed the words the choir was singing and showed the dynamics she required with her body motions.

After the concert, Ferreira received a standing ovation.

The crowd consisted of several professors and students from Butler as well as people from the community.

Cara Haxo, a graduate composer at Butler, mentioned after the concert, “She did a wonderful job!”

Courtney Reynolds, a former Butler graduate, said, “The Brazilian piece was a perfect ending.”