LOS ANGELES — Oratorios have been around since the mid-16th century, but that doesn’t mean these large-scale compositions are a dusty, dying art form. In fact, Mical Cohen, a sophomore at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts Magnet at Hamilton High School, is pretty enthusiastic about the new choral piece she helped create.
“You have eight movements of epic proportion,” she said with excitement. “You can just tell your story, how you feel and I think oratorios are amazing.”
She and her fellow students spent the past few months working with the Los Angeles master chorale on the group’s annual Oratorio Project. This is the 12th year for the project, but the first time Hamilton High has participated. The resulting composition, “Stonewall: The Oratorio,” will be performed Wednesday by 60 members of the school’s combined choirs along with eight singers from the master chorale.
Lesili Beard, the master chorale’s chief music education officer, said they chose Stonewall and LGBTQ rights as this year’s theme because they need a topic that is historic and epic in scope and something the students are passionate about. She said the Oratorio Project, which gives students the opportunity to work with teaching professionals and mentors, can be a life-changing experience for the young people involved.
“Once it’s all put together, then the students have a new respect for each other, and for the subject matter. And for those who might be different from themselves,” Beard explained.