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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
Green Music Center / Sunday, September 30, 2012
Sunrise Concert. Sonoma State University Chorus and Chamber Singers; Santa Rosa Children's Chorus; Cantiamo Sonoma; Maria Carillo High School Chamber Singers; Sunrise Chamber Players; Jeff Langley, piano

Composer Jeff Langley

A POPULAR INAUGURATION; THE DELIGHTFUL SUNRISE CONCERT AT WEILL HALL

by Phillip Beard
Sunday, September 30, 2012

It’s hard to imagine a more fitting setting than the Sept. 30 Sunrise Concert for the popular – as opposed to “elite” – inauguration of the palatial, pre-legendary Weill Hall in the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. You know something special is going on when you fill a 1,400-seat hall at 7 a.m., most of those 1,400 still rubbing the sleep from their eyes.

The elite inauguration, the one with all the tux-and-gown pooh-bahs and the solitary rock star, had of course taken place the previous evening, hugely impressive with its pomp and circumstance and speeches and its stunning recital by the world’s current leading pianist Lang Lang . This Sunrise Concert, by contrast, was entirely home-grown and consciously community-oriented: a choral program created by SSU’s own composer Jeff Langley and poet/drama coach Amanda McTigue, performed by a phalanx of local choruses and soloists and a 14-piece instrumental ensemble, the Sunrise Players, drawn primarily from the Santa Rosa Symphony. The conductor was SSU choral director Jenny Bent.

Host Lynne Morrow, another SSU music faculty fixture, welcomed the crowd invitingly and inclusively, delivering her own paean to the beautiful shared space, “an instrument that tunes us,” and rehearsing the audience for its sing-along role in the ode to music that would end the concert.

Then we were launched gently, first silently (what a magic moment of shared introspection!) then with brassy fanfare into a marvelous eight-song mélange of full-choir, small-choir, solo-voice, dual-voice, and instrumental numbers sometimes merging one into the other, sometimes ending on glorious full chords. They ran the musical gamut from mild harmonic edginess (in “Fanfare: Make Music”) to hymn-like strophic loveliness (“The Loving Cup”), to pop-tune sing-along good vibes (“Every Little Minute”). The texts, each a masterly poem in its own right, roamed from the sundry roles that music plays in our lives to the love that binds us together, whether intimately (“Love Is Our Lot”) or communally (“The Loving Cup” and “Every Little Minute”).

This triple focus, the interweaving of three thematic elements – love, music, community – provided the backdrop for myriad glistening moments. My favorites included soprano Carol Menke’s several stellar solos; the velvet trio offered by Jeff Langley at the piano, soprano Jenni Samuelson, and the amazing countertenor Chris Fritzsche, serendipitously blessed by the dawn sun rising over the hills to the east at the very moment of the vocal line “It’s the angle of the light, It’s the fading of the hills”.

In the Sunrise Players both Kathleen Reynolds’ flute and Roy Zajac’s clarinet playing stood out with warm resonance, along with the descant purity of the Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus. The larger ensemble, made up of the Maria Carrillo High School Chamber Singers, the SSU Symphonic Chorus, Cantiamo Sonoma, and the aforementioned Children’s Chorus, sang with thundering richness.

A star performer throughout the concert was the hall itself and its acoustic spectrum, ranging from pianissimo delicacy and crispness to full-on Mahlerian boom.

A marvelous new facility has opened at SSU, acoustically arguably among the greatest in the country. It was memorably showcased in this Sunrise Concert, and the program was written by local artists and performed by a well-rehearsed and well-conducted ensemble of local instrumental and vocal talent. The transparent intent of the concert's producers and performers was to contribute to the establishment of a community sense of ownership of the shared architectural and cultural space. They succeeded beautifully.