Here Comes the Sun — Monterey Peninsula Voices

On Saturday, May 13, Beatles fans were in song heaven at the Monterey Peninsula Voices Here Comes the Sun program at First Presbyterian Church in Monterey. Under the direction of Dr. Sean Boulware, these hundred plus singers devoted an entire program to some of the best of the best from the four mop tops from England as written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. As Boulware gave his welcome, he invited audience to sing along – as if an official invitation were needed for the songs that define a continuing music era!

Some of the best choral arrangers were included in this evening of Beatle delight. Beginning with “Hello Goodbye” and “All You Need Is Love” as arranged by Alan Billingsley, the singers set the tone for the enthusiastic sing along. Billingsley’s other arrangement in the second half was “When I’m 64” with audience members vocally augmenting the singers on stage. Kirby Shaw is particularly known for his kicking arrangements with jazzy licks. His “Can’t Buy Me Love” was a terrific toe tapping number. Shaw’s next arrangement was the acappella “I Will”. Boulware cleverly used a finger-snapping intro from both singers and audience that continued as the percussive accompaniment. A personal favorite, “Blackbird,” is the kind of song that is hard to translate to SATB. Mark Brymer’s arrangement made it work for a smaller group of about 30 voices from the group to nicely pull off. The women then took a turn on “Penny Lane” as arranged by Audrey Snyder to lovely effect with soloist Diane Ehlers. Rounding out the first half was “Hey Jude” in an actual Paul McCartney arrangement. Boulware regaled the audience with stories of not one but two meetings with Sir McCartney himself. The “dah-dah-dah” repeated ending provided the convenient exit for the singers waving and showing flames on iPads.

 

Adding to the music information of the evening was master of ceremonies Dr. Todd Samra. Samra himself is a walking encyclopedia of music knowledge. Offering one of the best endorsements of the evening was his reminding the audience of the power of music, whether singing, performing, or listening, to lift spirits lower blood pressure and stress levels among others. Supporting the accompanied numbers throughout the program was a terrific and hardworking combo. Michelle Galindo, as always the consummate pianist, was joined by Jason Abbott, guitar, Jason Stout, bass and Jim Vanderzwaan, drums.

More sing along gems filled the second half starting “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “The Long and Winding Road.” A smaller group featuring soloists Robin Jepsen, Clark Brown, and Rachel DeMaster sang “Yesterday.” The tenors and basses then comported themselves nicely with the Audrey Snyder arrangement of “And I Love Her” as a fitting recognition of Mother’ Day weekend. As Boulware readily admits, he loves medleys. The finale of the program was simply titled “Beatlesongs” arranged by the superb Mac Huff. There were more than a dozen of known hits from the Fab Four. Interesting props appeared in “Yellow Submarine” to great audience amusement. As Boulware announced, about the only song missing was the program title, “Here Comes The Sun.” Due to a mailing glitch, the scores never arrived!

As a beautiful and fitting encore, Lennon’s “Imagine” was performed with all the heartfelt emotion of the lyrics. Imagine a world at peace….seems to be particularly poignant at this time.

As Samra iterated earlier in the evening, having music in your life can be a great healer. Boulware’s leading of the Monterey Peninsula Voices provides that opportunity for anyone who wants to sing. There will be a summer session so if interested, check out www.mpvoices.org. For another program delight Look for Aria’s Women’s Choir programs on June 10 and 11.

 

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