Composer Carl Orff took two dozen saucy and lusty poems, put them to music and created one of the most popular pieces of the classical music repertoire.
They were from "Carmina Burana," a collection of medieval poems discovered in a Benedictine abbey in Bavaria in 1803 and published in 1847. The 13th-century manuscript contained about 250 medieval poems and songs in Latin, Middle High German and French that were categorized as clerical poems, love songs, drinking and gaming songs and two religious dramas. Orff's medieval cantata premiered in Frankfurt in 1937.
The Colorado Springs Philharmonic will close out its 90th season with a performance of Orff's "Carmina Burana." The first half of the program will feature selected arias by Wolfgang Mozart and the world premiere of "Zones" by Pierre Jalbert, the last of six composers commissioned by the orchestra to write a work based on Katharine Lee Bates' "America the Beautiful" in celebration of the Philharmonic's milestone. The Colorado Springs Chorale, Colorado Springs Children's Chorale and several soloists will be on hand to contribute. There are two performances Saturday and Sunday at the Pikes Peak Center.
It's the first time the work has been performed under conductor Josep Caballé-Domenech, who's been with the orchestra since 2011.
"It's very familiar - at least the first minute and last minute," said Caballé-Domenech. "What happens in between is not familiar. It has crazy poems and obviously crazy music that works with it very well. It's a fun piece to do."
Many listeners will recognize "O Fortuna," the opening section of the nearly hourlong work that's been featured in numerous films, including "The Hunt for Red October," The Doors" and "Natural Born Killers."
Caballé-Domenech most appreciates the many contrasts of the work, which is divided into three parts: "Spring," "In the Tavern" and "Love." "You can make it so crazy," he said. "It's fun to conduct and it's fun to listen to. It's not extremely difficult for the chorus and the orchestra. It's effective, it works and people know it."