Manager / Director:
Charles Jerome Hopkins
Theodore Thomas [see also Thomas Orchestra]
Price: $.50, 1
23 January 2013
“The purpose of getting up a grand Choral Festival, the musical portion to be mainly sustained by children’s voices, after the manner of the great Annual Festival at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, has long been entertained by Mr. C. Jerome Hopkins, who has for several years devoted much time, without remuneration, to the vocal and musical education of poor children, having established and sustained Orpheon Schools both in New-York and Brooklyn. In these schools he has trained up many of the boy singers who have become popularly known in the best churches of both cities. Months ago, Mr. Hopkins began to arrange for his Orpheonist Festivals. He tried to interest the Principals of the various charitable institutions in the undertaking, offering not only to do the labor of teaching, but to divide the profits between such Institutions and the Orpheon Schools. He received but little encouragement from the Principals of most of these Institutions, music being considered a dangerous accomplishment for Christian children. These disappointments reduced the proportions of the Festival far below the expectation of Mr. Hopkins, but still he expected to bring forward about 1,000 children.
The destruction of the Academy of Music by fire entirely deranged Mr. Hopkins’s plans. The Festival was to have been given there, tickets and private boxes were sold, and the success of the enterprise, both in a musical and money point of view, seemed to be certain. But the fire overthrew the whole arrangements and Mr. Hopkins was compelled to take refuge at the Cooper Institute, and to spread the proposed one day’s Festival over two days and a night. The disappointment was general, and certainly threw a damp over the public and also the performers.
The Cooper Institute Hall is a great barn of a place, and its acoustic effects are so peculiar that any chord seems divided into half a dozen parts. The same with the voice. The Hall was about half filled—it will hold, we believe, over three thousand people—by a very intelligent, but somber-looking party. The thousand singers were not forthcoming, there being at most, Orpheons and Charity children, girls, boys, and men, not over three hundred singers in the orchestra. Mr. Hopkins, we have no doubt, did his best; he received promises from many, instructed many, but few came, and the result was a very small Festival indeed.
It would be useless to go through the programme in detail. The children were very well trained, they sang correctly, followed the conductor well, and gave very good color to some of the choruses. The ‘Chorale’ by Marot and Besa, the ‘Echo Chorus,’ the ‘Vermont Farmer,’ the ‘Little Carol’ by Hopkins, which is sweet and effective, were the best of the vocal performances, and the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ of Handel the worst. The first day we only heard the soprano and contralto—the Harmonic Society’s tenori and bassi, if present, were subdued to an impalpable nothingness. It was a very melancholy performance indeed. On the repetition of the Festival the vocal selections went more smoothly.
The solo attractions at the Festival were Mlle. Boschetti, Miss M. Brainerd, Signor Orlandini, Mr. S. B. Mills and Mr. Goldbeck. All these artists are well known, so that we need not particularize their share of the entertainment, albeit some of the efforts were amenable to pretty sharp criticism. The hall, however, is so unfavorable for solo display that the artists are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
The orchestra, under the direction of Mr. Theodore Thomas, performed two of Mr. Jerome Hopkins’s instrumental compositions. The march we have noticed before; the Overture, entitled ‘Manhood,’ was new to us, and we are glad to pronounce it the best composition in every way that we have yet heard from Mr. Hopkins’s pen. The ideas are more clearly stated; there is more in them, and the instrumentation betrays less the hand of a novice. This is a work of good promise and gives us reason to hope for the future of Mr. Hopkins’s talent.
As a great choral Festival, Mr. Hopkins’s undertaking has proved a failure from reasons beyond his control, and we shall not feel inclined to encourage such another attempt, unless the condition of things is essentially changed affording a better guarantee of the fulfillment of promises than the untiring efforts of one individual, with a large development of ‘hope.’ Of the pecuniary results of the Festival, we have had no account.”