Composer William Mathias (1934-92).
Oldham County High School Chorale and Cantamus
Directed by Daniel Spurlock and Haley Reed
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2015 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
On an uncharacteristically warm November Sunday, a church full of people gathered to listen to the combined work of the Louisville Chorus and the Oldham County High School Chorale and Cantamus. Under the beautiful backdrop that is St. Brigid’s Church, it was a delight to see a rich assemblage of young and not-so-young musicians creating some very lovely sounds.
The Louisville Chorus, now in its 77th Season, began the afternoon with Saint-Saëns’ Chorus from his Christmas Oratorio. Despite being dominated by female voices, as is often the case in choruses, the tenor section got a little too heavy handed in respect to the vesper-like reflection, but was quickly corrected by Music Director Daniel Spurlock. Bizet’s Agnus Dei was beautifully blended, but Jacob Arcadelt’s Ave Maria was mesmerizing: great tone and delivery with a clear register throughout the performance. William Mathias’ Let All the World in Every Corner Sing with its huge organ fanfare seemed to take some of the energy away from the chorus, but still it was an entertaining piece.
Next up was Director Haley Reed’s Oldham County Cantamus, an all-female chorus, offering Elizabeth Atkinson’s Fruits of the Selfless Heart and Night by David Sasso (including a lovely clarinet solo by artist Brad Rogers); Fruits was pleasant but Night seemed to suffer from a detachment in the middle section, but resolved quickly.
The Chorale then joined with Seth Houston’s Emerald Stream, which allowed for the tenors and basses to shine a bit. The spiritual, Ride On, King Jesus, was enjoyable and the soprano soloist had an agreeable tone about her voice.
Mark Miller’s I Believe began the second half of the afternoon, with the Chorus and Chorale combining into one. Rose Pinotti Smith’s descant was clear and she received admirable help from other soloists and the chorus.
Mozart’s Dies Irae and Fauré’s In Paradisum, both from the composer’s respective Requiems, require attention, detail and solemnity. Despite the need for more bottom note support in the Dies Irae and the organ being a bit too loud for In Paradisum, I am happy to say that the Chorus more than delivered on those tenants. Saint-Saëns’ Gloria from Organ Symphony was just as exciting; especially from a strong alto stand point.
In the last three pieces all of the Choruses combined and performed the slightly obscure Zadok the Priest by Handel. Karl Jenkins’ Ave Maria had some slight tonal problems on the short notes but did not diminish from the solid nature of the piece. Lastly, with Beethoven’s oft-performed Ode to Joy, the mega chorus regained their energy and the lower register absolutely nailed their marks.
Congratulations to the wonderful work that you are doing with students in Oldham County Ms. Reed. I do hope that your guidance is instilling the future of vocalists in our area. And dear Maestro Spurlock, thank you for the many years that you have proved, time and time again, the reason why this venerable assemblage of talented singers and instrumentalists have been around for 77 years. May the Louisville Chorus keep that melody going for many more years to come.
November 1, 2015
St. Brigid Catholic Church
1520 Hepburn Avenue
Louisville, KY 40204
Annette Skaggs is a heavily involved Arts Advocate here in Louisville and freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.