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Choral and Vocal
A MAJESTIC ABS MESSIAH ORATORIO RESOUNDS IN WEILL DEC. 18
by Joanna Bramel Young
Sunday, December 18, 2016
San Francisco’s American Bach Soloists (ABS) presented Handel’s incomparable oratorio Messiah, HWV 56, to a sold out Weill Hall Dec. 18. It was a celebratory afternoon. In the fashion ABS audiences have learned to expect, conductor Jeffrey Thomas brought out the best of orchestra, chorus and solo...
Choral and Vocal
EARLY CHRISTMAS SEASON TRIUMPH FOR 24 ANGELS IN WEILL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Weill Hall Nov. 27 was packed with an audience of young and old excitedly waiting for an early holiday concert by the Vienna Boys Choir, and this esteemed Choir is a five-hundred year institution which is based in a school of 100 choristers. Four touring groups divide their time between studying and...
Choral and Vocal
EASTER AND ASCENSION ORATORIOS SOAR IN ABS MARIN CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, April 22, 2016
Three baroque composers were brought together April 22 at the American Bach Soloists‘ offering of oratorios: Buxtehude, Johann Kuhnau and Bach. In Belvedere’s St. Stephen’s Church the ABS highlighted the sequence of influence for these three masters, displaying stunning choral singing, virtuoso in...
Choral and Vocal
CHANTICLEER SINGS TO THE MOON IN WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, April 16, 2016
The renowned male a cappella  Chanticleer choir presented an "Over the Moon" program April 15 at the Green Music Centers Weill Hall.  The audience, including many choral music cognoscenti, was entranced by a varied and enriching program spanning centuries and continents. The theme of the evening was...
Choral and Vocal
RUTTER REQUIEM PERFORMANCE ENNOBLES GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT AT INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 25, 2016
There is a lot to like in John Rutter’s Requiem. Composed in 1985, it’s arguably the most performed large choral work of recent times, and it was a labor of love for choral director Carol Menke’s musicians in a memorable Good Friday concert in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation. Splendid Requi...
Choral and Vocal
SEAMLESS ENSEMBLE AT MENKE-THOMPSON-ZAJAC CONCERT IN SCHROEDER
by Christa Durand
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Those who braved the storm March 13 to attend diva Carol Menke’s recital in the intimate Schroeder Hall were rewarded with a warm program of chamber music for voice, clarinet and piano.  Brahms’ E-Flat Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120, No. 2, opened the concert.  The interplay and communication between pia...
Choral and Vocal
HANDEL A FEAST AT ABS BELVEDERE CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, February 26, 2016
American Bach Soloists (ABS) once again enchanted a full house in Belvedere’s St. Stephen’s Church February 26 with an exciting, varied, virtuosic performance, this concert offering works solely by Handel. Germany-born Handel made his way to England after an extended stay in Italy, where he was ...
Choral and Vocal
NEW ABS MARIN SEASON A BACH FEAST
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, January 22, 2016
Playing to a full house Jan. 22 at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, the American Bach Soloists launched its twenty-seventh season with a program of four Bach Favorites - two delectable instrumental compositions sandwiched between a pair of cantatas that ABS had performed in its very first concert....
Choral and Vocal
MEDITATIONS ON THE ARTIST
by Mark Kratz
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Schroeder Hall's vocal recital Jan. 17 centered on the life of the artist, and tenor Nicholas Phan described the recital as “meditations on the artist” that highlighted the concepts of hypersensitivity and a sense of child-like wonder that many artists experience. The entire first half of the rec...
Choral and Vocal
MAGNIFICENT BACH CHRISTMAS ORATORIO IN ABS ST. IGNATIUS CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Saturday, December 12, 2015
The American Bach Soloists presented Dec. 12 a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in San Francisco’s magnificent St. Ignatius Church. The church, built in 1912 and one of San Francisco’s largest, was nearly filled with legions of appreciative Bach and ABS fans. First heard in 1734 and standi...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, April 16, 2016
Chanticleer. Michael Bresnahan and Brian Hinman, tenor; Eric Alatorre, bass; Matthew Knickman, baritone; Marques Jerrell Ruff, bass-baritone; Nate Pence and Danita Mara Seth, soprano; Cortez Mitchell, Alan Reinhardt and Adam Ward, alrto

Chanticleer

CHANTICLEER SINGS TO THE MOON IN WEILL HALL CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, April 16, 2016

The renowned male a cappella  Chanticleer choir presented an "Over the Moon" program April 15 at the Green Music Centers Weill Hall.  The audience, including many choral music cognoscenti, was entranced by a varied and enriching program spanning centuries and continents. The theme of the evening was the moon that affects us in every aspect of our lives, physical, emotional, spiritual and even our moments of craziness. The pieces selected reflected this idea in multi faceted ways.
  
Radiating enthusiasm and confidence, the eleven singers strode onto the stage, elegant in tuxedos, and all their movements well coordinated. They launched immediately into Gerald Finzi's joyful "My Spirit Sang All Day,” followed by Monteverdi, Elgar’s "There is sweet music" and a second Monteverdi composition.  The sound was clear and rich, the blending of voices exquisite and nuanced, They sang of the exhilaration of love and of comfort to lovers. These songs from the 16th century and the 20th century, Italy and England, complemented each other. The singers effectively moved in and out of different positions and groupings. The hall provided a remarkable space for this choir to be heard in all its beauty of choral sounds.
   
The next set included four Renaissance composers, Orlando di Lasso, Busnois, Parsons and Josquin Desprez. A spoken introduction informed the audience of the great inventions of the Renaissance in every field, the pushing of boundaries and composers' desire to "unlock mysteries of the heavens." Lasso's Conditor alma siderum had the beauty of unison melting into full choir, at times creating organ-like sounds. Busnois’ (1430-1492)Gaude, celestis domino was the earliest piece and was full of playful and complex cross rhythms building to a joyful ending, and the singers were intensely watchful and mindful of each other. Robert Parsons’ Ave Maria was enchanting in its simplicity and harmonic beauty. The singing was effortless and natural. The Desprez Benedicta had the singers communicating palpably with the each other and the audience.
  
The third set moved from the Renaissance to "right now" with composer Nico Muhly. The Three Moon Songs was based on poetry by Giraud and were a 2015 commission. The first, "Harlequin,” presented charming soprano lines over repeated patterns making use of dissonance, humor and was always musically intelligible. Then "Moondrunk,” which had a robust solo by Marques Jerrell Ruff, had intriguing harmonies. The third of the set was received with delight by the audience - "The Alphabet" featured two soloists weaving around in jazzy scat style against a serious choir. Sudden stops and starts in the midst of perpetual motion and some vaudeville type gestures brought the audience to appreciative laughter.
  
Following the humor and liveliness, two profoundly moving Mahler masterpieces were sung. The first, Liebst du um Schoenheit (arr. Jennings), featured ethereal soprano notes and a solo by Cortez Mitchell over orchestral choir accompaniment. This was an audience favorite. The second, "Ich bin der Welt abandon gekommen", was performed with deep emotion and conveyed a sense of being rooted in great humanity and love. This set of Mahler songs was able to bring many in the hall to tears of joy and perhaps sorrow.

After an intermission of spirited lobby conversations and shared musical experiences the ensemble returned with a spectacular choral composition by Jaakko Mantyjarvi (b. 1963), “The tide rises, the tide falls.” Over a drone bass, waves of motives rose and fell. With simple means, this composer created a piece of depth and lovely motion. The sound of the choir was rich and full of color. This was followed by Mason Bates' Observer in the Magellanic Cloud, a futuristic piece exploring "primitive and mystery over the moon." At times intriguing, at others inscrutable, it was an experiment in different cultural effects and concepts.

Stephen Paulus's set from "The Lotus Lovers" (poetry by Tsu Yeh ) had variety of choral effects and techniques. There were fragmented phrases, beautiful glissandos, romantic harmonies and lively rhythmical singing ending with exciting bass octave jumps. A favorite was the one titled "All Night.” To end this exhilarating evening in a lighter mood, Chanticleer presented various arrangements of standards and traditional spirituals. The highly arranged "Fly me to the Moon" and "Moon River" were professionally performed though perhaps contrived. "There is a Balm in Gilead" (arr. Jennings) with magnificent soloist Mr. Ruff was compelling. Moses Hogan's "Ride the Chariot" was elating. The audience rose to applaud enthusiastically and brought Chanticleer back for an encore, "La Vie en Rose".
  
This was an evening of journeying through many phases of light and dark. As the words in Elgar's composition stated, "There is sweet music.”