This past weekend the Greenville Chorale joined forces with the Greenville Symphony for a concert entitled “Inspiring Voice” featuring the works of Leonard Bernstein and Guiseppi Verdi. It was probably one of the most enjoyable and stirring concerts we’ve done, and I think all went very well.
Local music critic Ann Hicks had this to say about the concert…
Bombastic choral music at the heart of opera combined with modern nods to ancient text comprised the Greenville Symphony Orchestra€™s final Masterworks concert of the 2009-2010 season.
The concert, led by maestro Edvard Tchivzhel, fused orchestral might to the vocal power of the excellent Greenville Chorale in a program titled €œInspiring Voices€ at the Peace Concert Hall on Saturday night.
The entire evening proved to be both vocally and instrumentally inspirational.
Works by America€™s incomparable 20th century composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein filled the first half of the program, in which €œChichester Psalms€ was bookended by the Overture to €œCandide€ €” a jewel in any orchestra€™s repertoire €” and the operetta€™s closing duet, €œMake Our Garden Grow,€ elegantly delivered by the entire Chorale.
The deeply inspirational €œPsalms€ provided a perfect platform for the Chorale and for boy soprano Caleb Smith. The seventh-grader at Prince of Peace Catholic School, coached by Alan Reed, interpreted the 23rd Psalm in a clear, sensitive tone, phrasing the difficult Hebrew phonetics with confidence. His performance would have been even more compelling if the microphone had been placed closer to him.
The Chorale€™s massive vocal power found a perfect outlet in the Psalms€™ bold sonorities and transformative melodic passages. The singers delivered its sheer beauty with soul and raw energy, definitely making a joyful noise unto the lord. Spotted in the midst of the Chorale, singing his heart out, was its fine artistic director, Bingham Vick Jr.
The second half of the program was all Verdi, all the time. The vocal and instrumental narratives from the Italian composer€™s vast operatic repertoire included, among others, the auto-da-fe €œSpuntato Ecco,€ from €œDon Carlo,€ the stirring €œAnvil Chorus€ from €œIl Trovatore€ and, for a passionate, marching conclusion, €œGloria all€™Egitto€ from €œAida.€
The music was very challenging. We had to learn rapid-fire Italian and Hebrew, and my having braces didn’t help with that process. However, as with all things that are a challenge, often the rewards justify the hard work. It wasn’t until the last couple of weeks that the music actually became fun for us. Now that the concert is over, I find myself humming the melodies.
I feel fortunate to be able to perform with a group like this and do music of this caliber. I’m not a huge opera fan, but it’s impossible to not be taken away by Verdi’s Anvil Chorus (complete with brake drum anvils.) Everyone should have a chance to at least hear this music live. There is nothing like it.