By M.L. RANTALA
Classical Music Critic
Last month Chicago A Cappella drew over three hundred people to K.A.M.I.I., across the street from the Obama house, for a celebration of the work of Max Janowski. With only a few exceptions, used for contrast, the program was entirely the music of Janowski, who served as music director of KAMII from 1938 to his death in 1991.
Janowski’s work has life and power, and Chicago A Cappella gave a committed performance. At least one strength was also a weakness. Many of the arrangements by Jonathan Miller were engaging as they incorporated Janowski’s piano or organ arrangements into the singing parts. But it would nonetheless have been interesting to hear those elements in their original form.
Miller served as the host of the event, and his commentary added to the whole. He went over the top now and again (for example, comparing Janowski to Beethoven), but his genuine respect and admiration for this composer was touching.
The music selected showed Janowski’s range and his ability to find the spiritual in so many different settings.