In Tuesday’s (5/4) Topeka Capital-Journal (Kansas), Bill Blankenship writes, “Issues ripped from today’s headlines and a classical music format perfected more than two centuries ago by George Frideric Handel combined in the Topeka Symphony Orchestra’s world premiere of ‘Parables’ to offer both an edifying and entertaining experience. John W. Strickler led the orchestra, a 112-voice chorus and four world-class soloists in Saturday night’s debut of ‘Parables,’ a symphonic oratorio composed by Robert Aldridge with a libretto by Herschel Garfein. The largest donation in the history of the symphony allowed it to commission the creators of the opera ‘Elmer Gantry’ to write ‘Parables,’ which the donors, Douglas Reeves and Andrew Reeves, asked deal with religious tolerance … In the tradition of Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ Aldridge and Garfein turned to sacred scripture for the text of ‘Parables,’ but they didn’t limit the source material to the New Testament. They also mined the Torah and Koran to explore points of unity—and division—among the three great monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. … Guided masterfully by Strickler, the nearly 200 musicians and singers who filled the stage of White Concert Hall delivered the powerful music and message of ‘Parables’ in triumphant fashion.”

Posted May 5, 2010