David Hayes Selected Performance Reviews

 “This performance had surpassing moments…”

The seven-movement Requiem…is always a blessed event in the hands of a capable ensemble. With the Choral Society’s David Hayes conducting, Brahms’ ode of encouragement to the bereft was both majestic and tender. This performance had surpassing moments, too: the altos and sopranos arriving like a shaft of light in the first movement refrain of “Aber des Herrn Wort bleibet in Ewigkeit” (“But the word of the Lord endures for eternity”); the affecting delicacy of the repeated “Wie lieblich” (“How lovely”) in the fourth movement. 

– Sean Piccoli, New York Classical Review, Nov. 2018
New York Choral Society Brahm’s Ein deutsches Requiem

“David Hayes is one of the finest conductors…”

From the swirling, anguished tones of the opening “Lamentations,” the music is utterly hypnotic, especially so when rendered with the focused passion of this wonderful band of choristers… As should be obvious by now, I found this performance to be magnificent. David Hayes is one of the finest conductors working in Philadelphia today, displaying masterful rhythmic control and superbly shaped dynamic phrasing…If you missed this, too bad, but the recording is on the way.”

– Peter Burwasser, Broad Street Review, Jan. 2014
Randall Thompson’s Requiem (Philadelphia Singers)

“…music director David Hayes maintained edgy tension…”

One of the great choral works of recent times, MacMillan’s 1994 Seven Last Words From the Cross, written for eight-part chorus and strings, is no stranger to Philadelphia, but was given something close to a standard-setting performance at Church of the Holy Trinity… The Philadelphia Singers’ high level of preparation was only the foundation for the performance, but was not to be taken for granted…MacMillan climaxes sometimes have high notes that are all the more dramatic for being barely reachable. Philadelphia Singers hit them just fine without losing the effect…Philadelphia Singers music director David Hayes maintained edgy tension, greeting every new idea with a fresh sense of astonishment and with well-judged vocal coloring right down to spellbinding exhaling effects in the final movement’s string writing.”

– David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer , Apr. 2011
(MacMillan’s Seven Last Words From the Cross)

“…Hayes set the bar high…”

David Hayes set the bar high for the Mannes Orchestra on Monday evening when he led this student ensemble in a pair of hefty, concentrated but very different sacred works at Carnegie Hall: Messiaen’s “Ascension: Quatre Méditations Symphoniques” and Mendelssohn’s “Lobgesang” (Op. 52)…(Messiaen) Arriving there with the work’s spirit intact requires taut conducting and alert, focused playing, which Mr. Hayes and his musicians delivered…Mendelssohn’s “Lobgesang” (or “Hymn of Praise”) draws mostly on biblical texts and is essentially a vast psalm with a long, lush orchestral preface. The Mannes Orchestra delivered that lushness…”

– Allan Kozinn, New York Times, Nov. 2008
(Mannes Orchestra-Carnegie Hall)

“Straightforward Expressivity”

“The Mannes players, led by David Hayes, the school’s director of orchestral and conducting studies, acquitted themselves impressively. For straightforward expressivity, the performance of “Das Lied” compared favorably with the more personalized, highly manipulated rendering that James Levine and the Met Orchestrahad given in the same hall two and a half weeks earlier…In his comparatively brisk, often bright-hued account of “Das Lied,” Mr. Hayes seemed intent on finding a balance between the shimmering, naturalistic imagery of the poetry Mahlerchose and the current of disappointment and mortality (and, in the final movement, leave-taking) that suffuses parts of the score.”

~ Allan Kozinn, New York Times, Feb. 2011

“Hayes has made clarity a first cause”

“Hayes has made clarity a first cause, but in this setting, diction, intervals, and sectional balances seemed unusually pointed. Without that clarity, Martino’s work would be mush. The singers move pitch to pitch, not chord to chord, and the placement of single notes in context with other single notes provides the spring in the music’s step. This performance gave special spice to the oddities of the Robert Herrick poems. Does his piety meet standards of orthodoxy? No more than Martino’s music bows to conventional practice. This was the evening’s high point.Hayes shaped the Bruckner Mass in a soaring arc. From the opening trombone chorale through the highly personal emphases Bruckner applied to the text, the music grew, to climactic moments in the Gloria and the expansive Credo and to the introverted final notes. He summed up the level of this performance in the Sanctus, the singers hushed, noble, joyous and wonderfully resonant. He let the instruments color the whole, but also take firm stands of their own.”

~ Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2009

“…detailed, intimate phrasing…”

(of Fauré’s Requiem with the Philadelphia Orchestra) “…The Philadelphia Singers Chorale sang with extraordinary control, with particularly flavorful pianissimos -with detailed, intimate phrasing usually heard only in solo vocal performances.”

~ David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Philadelphia Singers Took the Piece Out of its Ivory Tower”

“Five hymns, arranged by Robert Shaw and Alice Parker, arrived with their own particular vocal tint. It’s here, and in the Rachmaninoff encore, that one most clearly heard Hayes’ evolution…What one has heard increasingly over the years, though, is an extraordinary instinct for finding the right expressive color for any given passage and making it happen at a high vocal level. Particularly in the Rachmaninoff, the juxtaposition of such colors created an almost three-dimensional effect, like viewing the unfolding levels of architectural detail in a great cathedral.”

~ David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer , April 2013

“Highly Recommended”

(of Thompson Requiem –Naxos recording) “…This work, devout but not sanctimonious, has a simple and direct appeal. The choir is superb throughout, and although this must be quite a difficult and taxing work to perform well, this ensemble does it to perfection. Highly recommended.”

~ Geoff Pearce, Music and Arts, 2016

“Exceptionally Warm and Passionate”

(of Thompson Requiem –Naxos recording) “…After waiting more than half a century, this first recording, by the 32-voice Philadelphia Singers conducted by David Hayes, is not only technically superb but exceptionally warm and passionate.”

~ Laurence Vittes, Gramophone Magazine, 2016

“Profound Magnificence”

“…Hayes’ pace in the Beethoven (Mass in C) felt ideal; relaxed but flowing forward easily. The phrases had the opportunity to rise and fall as if the music were breathing…to the sound and color of the first half, the chorus added elegant polish with a blend of voices that was smooth and shining. Under the singing, the orchestral playing had an excellent internal balance. Where the first half was schematic, the second showed attention to the shape of each phrase, and to the overall design and direction in which they fit. There was also expressive meaning and weight…the performance started well and kept getting better and better. The rise and shape of the Agnus Dei had the weight of profound magnificence the music expresses. Hayes led the music along the formal path to the mass’ final comforts.”

~ George Grella, New York Classical Review

“Hayes Conducted the Orchestra in a Stately, Sumptuous Performance…”

(of Handel’s Israel in Egypt) …The chorus took obvious delight in the words, clearly enunciating them so that there was little need to refer to the texts in the program. Even with well over 100 voices, the NYCS sang with agility and clarity in the fugues. Needless to say, they could also bathe the audience in rich legato sound, especially effective in “He sent a thick darkness over the land.” …Hayes conducted the orchestra in a stately, sumptuous performance of the overture. Its inclusion did much to focus one’s attention and set the mood for what was to follow. The orchestra’s playing was fleet and transparent throughout, always alert to the textual nuances.”

~ Rick Perdian, Seen and Heard International, May 2016

“Swimmingly Good”

New York Choral Society presents C.V. Stanford’s ‘Songs of the Fleet’ at Carnegie Hall

There was water music of a different sort when David Hayes led the NYCHORAL in a rousing performance of Charles Villiers Stanford’s The concert, which also featured elegant baritone Jarrett Ott and the East Coast premiere of Californian composer Frank Ticheli’s powerful, evocative Symphony No. 3, brought a bit of Philadelphia spirit to Carnegie Hall.

In Philadelphia, Hayes is known for his long-term affiliations with the Curtis Institute of Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra; he spent 23 years as music director of the Philadelphia Singers. He is also a presence in New York City’s music circles as a member of the Mannes School of Music’s conducting staff and musical director of the New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL).”

~ Rick Perdian, Broad Street Review, Feb. 2018