COSTA MESA — The Pacific Chorale balanced listener preferences with a commitment to presenting new music in its concert Sunday night at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Director John Alexander chose a program of three 20th-Century American works, including one West Coast and one world premiere, all sharing a penchant for tonality and melodiousness. Still, despite easy accessibility, the styles remained distinct.
Responding to a commission by the Orange County Philharmonic Society, James Hopkins based his "Songs of Eternity" on poetry, by the Nobel Prize-winning Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore, dealing with love and death. He provided a haunting score, with orchestral treatment reminiscent of Mahler in its chamber-music groupings and delicacy.
In this premiere performance, the text rang clearly, even during imitative sections, and phrases flowed with deft control of dynamics and tone quality. Flutist Louise DiTullio lent an otherworldly, Eastern flavor during a solo that intertwined with the opening lines, "This song of mine will wind its music around you my child, like the fond arms of love," which returned to close the final movement.