The Third Annual A Cappella Showcase! made its appearance March 12, 2016 at the Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula. Kristen Thompson, accomplished in choral and barbershop directing, music education and percussion, is the enthusiastic and driving force behind what is becoming a premier event on the Monterey Peninsula. A cappella is solely without outside of the voice accompaniment. Anyone can sing and joining with others stimulates the body, mind and soul. Being in the audience and getting to hear groups featuring voices from third grade age to over three score and then some makes for a terrific and diversified evening of entertainment. Ticket sales benefits school music programs.
Starting off the evening were 17 students from Chartwell School under the direction of Kristen Thompson presenting the Star Spangled Banner along with two rounds, “Round and Round”, and “This Pretty Planet.” The attention and smiling faces from many performing for the first time in an a cappella group were irresistible! Following this group was local barbershop quartet – Four on the Floor with suped-up versions of “Java Jive”, “Get Out and Get Under the Moon” and a lovely “Edelweiss.” These selections were prime vocal comfort food of the barbershop genre. More barbershop from Bay Belles female barbershop group under the direction of Thompson, next presented “Chordbuster March,” featuring all the sections of the choir and how the harmony is created. This total personality group then did “Orange Colored Sky” and a great arrangement of “Begin the Beguine” featuring Jeffrey Thompson as the soloist. Kristen Thompson’s female barbershop quartet Vocal Point presented a cool version of “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”
A change of pace to the beautiful duet of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” performed by Amber McDonald and Logan Thorenston. Logan is 14 and Amber is starting college. If these two keep up their vocal endeavors, success will surely follow. Unexpectedly mature and clear but not forced voices made this duo a total pleasure to hear.
Another local barbershop quartet – Cannery Rogues – started with a seasonally appropriate “Wild Iris Rose.” Coming down from the stage as they sang, they presented a rose to an audience member on the front row. Nothing like having four gorgeous guys with gorgeous voices singing to you! This was followed by a Broadway show tune arranged in barbershop style, “For Good” from Wicked. As wonderful as the traditional barbershop selections are, it’s great to hear newer music set in the style. A rowdy old R&R favorite “Sh-boom” ended their set.
Raising the roof and rocking the house was the Monterey Peninsula Gospel Community Choir with their presentations of “Ride On King Jesus,” “Rainbow,” “Didn’t The Lord Deliver Daniel,” and “Over My Head I Hear Music.” This fine group under the direction of John Nash Jr. and David Wells will also present their spring concert on April 9, 5:00p.m., at 1st Presbyterian Church, Monterey. This is definitely infectious can’t-sit-still music that permeates your body and soul. Janice Perl’s group, The Franklin St. Voices, from Trinity High School gave great energy to “Mister Sandman” and “It Only Takes A Moment.” The five young high school girls in this group definitely have their act together – personality and ensemble deluxe. A new group in the area, BlueNotables directed by Michael Blackburn and Robert Ramon, demonstrated the cool blend of eight voices in show/jazz group style. “Pass Me The Jazz” in the style of The Real Group led off their set. A very smooth “Nearness of You” was followed by a rocking Stevie Wonder “Don’t You Worry About a Thing.” Featured soloists Richard Bryant and Laurie Hofer-Romero demonstrated major improve chops with solid back up from the rest of the group.
Rounding out this amazing vocal evening was the featured group, Cloud 9 directed by Jackson Vanover from UCSC. The vocal dynamic of this group more than knocked the socks off the audience. Practicing 7 – 8 hours a week really pays off for this competitive group. Thirteen voices created a very contemporary a cappella sound complete with beat box backing that’s becoming harder to distinguish from a trap set! Their selections included rock, jazz, hip-hop and even ballad styles. Moving from one to the other was absolutely seamless. The versatility and ensemble of this group appears to be able to hold its own with any of the collegiate groups featured on national TV. The group has been around since 2001. Look them up. You won’t be disappointed!
So ended a splendid evening filled with an abundance of enthusiastic singers joined in their respective groups to give the best gift possible – their vocal efforts to entertain. Major kudos to Kristen Thompson’s vision of what an a cappella showcase can be. Then as if the vocal sustenance were not enough, Jeffrey’s Grill and Catering provided a sumptuous reception to meet and greet and enjoy the glow of a fabulous evening.