Camerata Singers — Beatitude Mass (for the Homeless)

Camerata’s program on Sunday afternoon, March 4, at First Presbyterian Church, Monterey, was a special one indeed. The idea behind the program was to give a program for benefit of outreach in Monterey County. Unlike presentations of this caliber, admission was free – with donations encouraged but not required. John Koza, Artistic Director and Conductor, conceived a program of music complementing the main work – Henry Mollicone’s Beatitude Mass (for the Homeless). The first half included works by a number of the usual top choral arrangers. Ed Lojeski’s arrangement of  Amazing Grace began with a clear, clean vocal line almost in the traditional vein before morphing into a jazzier feel. Bring me little water, Sylvie as arranged by Kirby Shaw featured Liz Baseman as soloist. This is definitely a cool work. St. Francis’ Lord, make me an instrument took on new meaning as composed by M. Roger Holland. Holland is known for Gospel arrangements and this one definitely hit the mark. The final “instrument of peace” fairly floated. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Choral

Lamplighter’s Production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers

I am always amazed at how fresh William S. Gilbert’s humor continues to be in this day and age. Even though it was written over one hundred years ago, the writing in “The Gondoliers” is always delightful and at times hysterically funny. This was made abundantly clear in the current Lamplighters production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s twelfth operetta, which I had the good fortune to see this past Sunday afternoon at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Choral, Opera, Vocal ensemble

Madregalia presents “Twelfth Night” – Renaissance Music for Christmas

Director Jeff Demarco & the Madregalia Singers

Hearing the Madregalia Singers presentation of “Twelfth Night – Renaissance Music for Christmas” at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Monterey last night was my first opportunity to observe the artistic craft of Jeff DeMarco, whose work with “Madregalia” and “The Pastyme Consort” has been much admired. I would have preferred to have one of our other reviewers more conversant with choral music cover the concert, but since they were unavailable, I was the last man standing.

Being by profession a pianist deeply immersed in “the truly expressive music of the 19th century,” leaving my comfort zone to hear music from the 15th and 16th centuries initially left me feeling about as out of place as a gunman at a garden party. But early on, some magic happened. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Choral, Vocal ensemble

A Chanticleer Christmas at the Carmel Mission

Not surprisingly, since “Chanticleer” was the rooster in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” the choir with the same moniker is no different — bright and colorful. A sense of awe and wonder took over the audience as the choir entered the Carmel Mission Basilica from the rear of the sanctuary. All the lights had been turned off as the choir entered bearing candles and singing the Gregorian Chant, Christe redemptor omnium.

As the lights were turned back on and the music continued, the once hushed audience was filled with murmurs – comments on the sounds of the voices emanating from the all-male choir. One of the unique features of this choir is the presence of countertenors, a voice partly higher than a tenor and equivalent to a female contralto or soprano. Looks of confusion turned to gentle smiles amongst the audience, and the confidence of the choir took over to a sense of serene happiness. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Cantus, Choral

Hartnell Community Choir at All Saints’ Church

Robin McKee Williams

Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel was the acoustically lovely and festively dressed setting for the Hartnell Community Choir December 17 Concert. For small groups this venue has the ability to accent and amplify a special richness of sound. Although not one of the larger groups on the Monterey Peninsula, this group of singers under the direction of Robin McKee Williams is certainly one of the most dedicated in its pursuit of performing great choral repertoire. Ambitious choral works included in the afternoon’s program were Ralph Vaughan Williams Sancta Civitas, and Kim Andre Arnesen’s Requiem. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, All Saints' Church, Baroque, Choral