A chilly spring afternoon on March 24th hosted the warmth of Aria Women’s Chorus program, She Sings!, at Monterey First Presbyterian Church. Under the direction of Sean Boulware, this women’s group continues to provide some of the best of choral music. Greg Gilpin’s arrangement of Christopher Marlowe’s text, Come Live With Me, provided the opening with a lovely gentleness of fluid voices. Sunlight, by JW Keckly had the “choir weave in and out of harmonic structures” as explained by Boulware by way of introduction. With Michelle Galindo trading the piano for flute, there was an ethereal ghostly quality to begin to set the stage for the vocal weaving – done to great effect.
A delightful Niska Banja as arranged by Nick Page followed describing the delights of a city in Serbia. Additions to this arrangement included Susan Hocevar and Suzanne Wheeler adding great voices and personality in a duet while Kristine Boyle-Topete played clarinet and Heidi Toy joined Galindo at the piano. As on several pieces, Isaiah Boulware played very assured percussion support. Sara Teasdale’s poetry, “Joy,” was set by Jocelyn Hagen in an arrangement that included Laura Burian’s beautifully assured violin accompaniment. As Boulware explained about so much of Teasdale’s poetry reflecting sadness, this was really a joyful infatuation with a found love. Burian continued to display her innumerable violin chops on Cunla. This song relates the mischievous qualities of a house spirit and apparently is a favorite drinking song in Ireland. The gist is that the spirit taps at windows and ends up in a rather risque situation with the lady of the house. No Aria program would be complete without a medley! And, closing out the first half was Andy Beck’s Give Me A Choral Medley. Jennifer Foreman gave the perfect introduction to the myriad of selections that were included.
Opening the second half was an a cappella arrangement of I Will Be With You by Sarah Quartel. This ode to loyalty of one to another no matter the season sounded as a testament to truly caring for someone. A direct mood change followed with Ben Allaway’s Freedom Come. The dynamic soloists who really nailed the spiritual style were Julie Posey and Michelle Boulware vocally playing off each other to terrific effect. Much vocal literature recalls texts and writings found in concentration camps and hideouts. Even When He Is Silent as set by Kim Andre Arneson calls up beliefs during the darkest of times during the Holocaust. For all the beliefs that can no longer be experienced, one of the hardest to hold on to is a belief in God “even when He is silent.”
Memories are recalled in Antigua Cancion by Kristina Rasmussen Collins. An old song can recall singing and crying all at once. Michelle Boulware totally nailed yet another style in a Dolly Parton tune as arranged by Craig Hella Johnson and Richard Gabrillo. Light of a Clear Blue Morning was delivered with lilting back up from the chorus as Boulware gave her all in her definite vocal sweet spot. A small group made up of Diane Ehlers, Suzanne Wheeler, and Julie Posey in addition to the main chorus also provided backup. Rounding out the afternoon was Rollo Dilworth’s rousing Stand Upon The Rock. In current times hearing an invocation to stand up for justice, freedom and liberty seems very appropriate. Free vocal improve was more than ably provided by Posey looking as if it were the most natural thing in the world for her to do.
Again, an afternoon of vocal delights as Boulware produces. Adding the consistently wonderful music skills of Galindo at piano, flute and recorder along with Isaiah Boulware’s intuitive percussion provided icing on this musical cake.