It was certainly a festive conclusion to the season. For "A Coronation Festival" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Saturday, John Alexander, conductor of the Pacific Chorale, put together a program entirely of works written for the crowning of British sovereigns--from George II to the current monarch, and enlisted, for part of the program, the assistance of some 300 high school students.
Handel's coronation anthems, first performed in 1727 for George II, are full of Handelian ebullience and drive, and adumbrate the oratorio choruses that came later. The 140-voice chorale sang the three works with vigor and momentum, exhibiting near-perfect balances and superb ensemble.
William Walton's "Coronation Te Deum," written 2 centuries later for Elizabeth II, offered an ideal stylistic contrast. Here, too, the singers delivered an energized, vibrant sound at every dynamic level.
An anthem by Hubert Parry, written for the 1902 enthronement of Edward VII, included the student vocalists, who were positioned along the perimeter of Segerstrom Hall. The combined forces gave a dramatic reading of the rarely heard "I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me."