Friday, December 10, 2010

Concert Chorus and Young Men

And now, welcome Concert Chorus and Young Men! Francisco Nunez is on stage conducting, and we start with "Deck the Halls." Those of you who saw us in Switzerland (or followed us online) remember how this arrangement by Francisco and Jim Papoulis wowed the audiences there. Next up, Concert Chorus sings the soothing, ethereal 16th century melody, "Lo' How a Rose E'er Blooming," such a beautiful song. Then it's Brahms' uplifting "Ave Maria," followed by Tchaikovsky's nimble "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."

Now we welcome back the Young Men who rejoin Concert Chorus on "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." (Backstage is fun at this point -- our young men literally come in singing! It's a party back here!) The Concert choristers now move down to the audience -- wrapping the house in sound. The Young Men are now performing Faure's haunting "Maria, Mater Gratie." (Factoid: you can hear our Young Men rehearsing this piece on a radio interview recently done about YPC -- in Milan, Italy. Check out Radio Popolare's podcast archive for more...)

Now we are on the emerald isle, with YM performing "The Sally Gardens," a rendition that could rival the most heart-rending singing in any Dublin pub. (YPC in Dublin? Hmmm....Why not?) Now we're listening to a first: "How Long Watchman," a world premiere written by composer Thomas Cabaniss (who also happens to have 2 young men in the chorus). This moving, intense song asks us, "How long will there be pain and suffering, how long will there be darkness," reminiscent of the longing of the most ageless spirituals, with some very fine solos from five of our young men.

Solveig of Concert Chorus regales us with another poem, a beautiful piece about making angels in the snow, getting others to join her, and finding the angels come to life and rise to the skies. An amazing image that will remain in our minds long after tonight...

"Riu Riu Chiu" follows. It's a 16th century villancico, the most popular Spanish musical form in the mid 1550s, mimicking the sound of the nightingale, and celebrating the Redeemer and his Mother. There are some amazing solos from our choristers here -- in perfect post-Renaissance Castilian! Next is "Betelehemu," a Nigerian carol is next. This is a YPC favorite, and we never get tired of hearing it. It starts off slow and plaintive, then becomes this rousing, percussive, highly animated call to celebration. Rousing applause! House is wild!

It ain't over till...tutti! Stay with us!

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