Guillermo Figueroa

Marc Neikrug: Healing Ceremony

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This work by composer Marc Neikrug was composed for the dedication of a cancer center in New Mexico, but the composer has since successfully presented it as a more general balm. The work's increasing renown is not hard to understand: Neikrug effectively combines a sort of moderate-Mahlerian language with New Age elements, setting chant-like texts, apparently written by the composer, that draw on Native American imagery ("Thunder and lightning arrive from the South: Their power comes to join us here"). Neikrug is a resident of the Pueblo reservation, and his usage of Native American ideas has an unforced, natural feel. The eight movements of the work build slowly toward an impressive climax in the finale, "Fire/Love," and it may be that for many listeners in need of succor the music will have a hypnotic and even healing effect. Others may find it ponderous. Mezzo soprano Susan Graham and baritone Matthew Worth, at any rate, accomplish the power and consistency of tone necessary to make this presentation work. This is clearly a case in which an individual's reaction is paramount.

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