Chorale brings sounds of season

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Montgomery Chorale and Montgomery Youth Chorale treated the Camellia City to a feast of holiday favorites – musical ones, courtesy of the Greenville Area Arts Council, at the Ritz Theatre Monday night.

The 30-year-old Chorale is the Capital City’s official choral group and oldest performing arts organization. Rebecca Taylor, artistic director and conductor of the Chorale, led the volunteer group of musicians and singers. Skilled accompanists Elisabeth Donaldson and Frances Bonn took turns at the keyboard that evening.

An appreciative audience enjoyed a rich mlange of musical styles over the course of the evening, with selections by Barber, Vivaldi, Berlioz and Handel among the classical musical offerings that are a trademark of the Chorale.

During ‘A Christmas Garland’, the audience was able to join in on the performance of a spirited medley of traditional Christmas carols, including ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, ‘We Three Kings,’ ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Joy to the World.’

During the second half of the musical program, the audience heard a selection of traditional tunes in celebration of the Jewish festival of Hanukah.

They also were treated to a light-hearted ‘Christmas Sweet’, a unique and delightful acapella arrangement of ‘Deck the Halls’ and the poignant Christmas pop standard, ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas.’

The 40-plus member Montgomery Youth Chorale, now in its second year, ably performed several selections including Thompson’s ‘Solstice’ and Chilcott’s ‘Mid Winter’ and ‘This Joy.’ Two Greenville area teens, Courtney Rice and Evie Poole, are part of this impressive group of young performers ages 8-16.

The concert was rounded out with Nick Page’s ‘A Child Is Born’, described by Taylor as a mix of &uot;black gospel and South African musical traditions&uot;; the beloved spiritual ‘Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow’ and an Austrian carol, ‘Still, Still, Still.’

The piece de resistance of the evening was Basler’s rousing ‘Gloria’ from Missa Kenya.

With accompaniment on bongos and maracas, handclaps and soaring choruses, this unique sampling of ‘world music’ evoked both the spiritual and the festive side of the season.

Following the performance, the chorale members and GAAC patrons were treated to a feast of edible holiday delights at a reception held in the two rooms flanking the theater. Christmas cookies, handmade chocolates, fresh fruit, a selection of dips, cheeses and hot apple cider were among the offerings enjoyed by the guests.

The final performance of the GAAC 2003-2004 season will be Barry Manilow’s ‘Copacabana,’ slated for March 2004.