Cabrillo College choral group, Cantiamo! under the direction of Cheryl Anderson, performed its “Concert for a Winter’s Eve” at the Carmel Mission, December 15th, 2018. The concert featured an eclectic mix of repertoire. It is always a treat to hear anything by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Laus Trinitati was performed a cappella in Latin: “Praise to the Trinity, the sound and life, and creativity of all within their life, the praise of the angelic host and wondrous, brilliant splendor hid, unknown to human minds it is, and life within all things.”
In anticipation of the group’s upcoming choral tour of South Africa in the summer of 2019, they performed Indodana, a song of Christian faith written in Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa. L’Dor Vador, by Meir Finkelstein (b. 1951) was performed in Hebrew, “From Generation to Generation we tell of Your greatness, Your holiness we shall sanctify to protect this chain. From Generation to Generation, these lips praise your name. Blessed are You, Adonai, the Holy One.” Sung in German, J.S. Bach’s Herr, du siehst statt guter Werke, from BWV 9, featured just the women. “Lord, instead of good works you look at the strength of faith in our hearts.You only take account of faith, only faith justifies us, everything else appears too imperfect to be able to help us.” Leah Parker Zumberge accompanied beautifully on piano for this and several other pieces on the Winter’s Eve program.
Of special note was the aria, Aure Volantiby Francesca Caccini (1587-1641), originally from her 1625 opera, La Liberazione di Ruggiero Dall’Isola d’Alcina. Another piece using just the sopranos and altos, the instrumentation featured strings and woodwinds, and the effect was particularly pleasing to the ear in the Mission’s acoustic. “Old Fox Wassail” by Stephen Hatfield, was sung by just the men of Cantiamo. They ably aped the poor and destitute of the season, pantomiming begging, pretending to be underfed and broke, as evidenced by some turning out their pockets to show nothing therein, “Down here in the muddy lane there sits an old red fox, Starvin’ and a shiverin’ an lickin’ of his chops. Bring us out yer table and spread it if you please, Only give us hungry was’ilers a bit of bread and cheese. The lanes are very dirty an’ me shoes are very thin. I’ve got a little pocket I c’n put a penny in. If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do. If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you.”
“How can we let go? How can we forgive? How can we dream?” The entire choir performed, in sometimes 20-part harmony, the piece, “All of Us,” from Considering Matthew Shepherd by Craig Hella Johnson (b. 1962). Cantiamo plans to perform the moving work in its entirety next year. Mozart’s Coronation Mass (1779), performed in its entirety with fourteen-piece orchestra, was the highlight of the concert, and Agnus Dei soprano soloist. Michelle Miracle, was the highlight of the highlight. Miracle, a voice major at Cabrillo, is a teaching assistant to Anderson, assists with the Youth Chorus, and is in all of the Cabrillo College choirs. She hopes to transfer to a four-year program to specialize in music therapy.
The concert ended with a piece which was remarkable in its execution, A Shepherd’s Farewell by Berlioz. It was remarkable in that, although the whole of the concert was good, the performance of this piece was heads and tails above all the others in its sound of professional polish, as if one were listening to a studio recording. It turns out that Cantiamo! performs A Shepherd’s Farewell at the end of all of their concerts, and thus, it is indeed the most practiced, familiar, and polished song in their bag. Amazing to hear the difference that extra practice makes. We musicians could all choose our own signature pieces, and practice them regularly and faithfully to achieve such a result.