Saturday, October 8, 2011

Concert Review

Benedictine College Pops Concert: "Showstoppers!"

The Pops Concert by the Benedictine Chamber Choir and Concert Chorale was a high-energy, entertaining venue which attracted students and families from all departments of Benedictine College. Faculty, family and students alike all loved the enthusiasm and music and could not stop telling the singers afterward how much they enjoyed it.

The concert opened with the Concert Chorale singing Jump, a energetic piece by Van Halen and arranged for chorus by Ed Lojeski. The arrangement was charming and engaging, though the men in the small ensemble were sometimes hard to listen to, varying so much on pitch and expression that they seemed to be singing different parts.

The next piece was a work originally performed by the King Singers, Africa. As a da capo pops work it was quite charming, exploring innovative vocal textures. It was wonderful that the men had the most important line, though unfortunately the tenors in their solo on the chorus were hard to hear. There were some tempo problems when people forgot to watch Dr. Krusemark's direction and the sopranos forgot their ending as usual.

The Chamber Singers took the stage next with In the Still of the Night with a solo by Joe Heron who has a sweet, masculine tenor voice. The choreography was simple but charming and the subdued dynamics in the choir highlighted the romantic solo line. The sopranos and bases were really into their choreography, but the lack of enthusiasm in the majority of the altos created a rather unbalanced feel.

The next work was a medley of numbers from the musical Godspell with solos from Katherine Bittner, Rachel Noffke, Erin Martin and Joe Gifford. The works were boldly sung and brought out the diverse characters of the musical via completely biblical texts.

Love Potion No. 9 was the only piece in a minor key in the entire concert and made the audience laugh with the high-pitched “I took a drink!” from bass Mich Bechina. The only mistake I noticed in the piece was when the sopranos forgot to diverge during the bridge.

The Concert Chorale once again took the center stage with an arrangement of Somebody to Love by Queen. The soloists were Emily Storment and Michael Clinton . I was very unimpressed by most of the choreography for the Concert Chorale, and this work was no exception, but for the Chorale the singing was probably the best.

The Chamber Singers came forward immediately after with a swing piece from the 50's called At the Hop. The Sopranos were the only part with speaking lines during the verses so they were a little hard to understand, but the choreography was well done and sung with enthusiasm. The swing dance solo in the first performance was unnervingly close to the edge of the stage, but Joe Gifford did a brilliant job of making sure his partner did not fall to her doom.

The last work by the Chamber Singers was a work for only men, Calendar Girl. This was the highlight of the concert with its ridiculously corny romantic and comedic effects. Tom Henry the soloist brought a lady friend out from the Chorale and spend the verses singing to her and emphasizing the words with amusing actions. The best part, however, was when the entire line of men began a high-kicking can-can and the audience roared with laughter and applause.

The Concert Chorale then performed another work by Queen; Bohemian Rhapsody. There were drastic speeding problems during the middle section of the work and the “thunderbolts and lightning” section was completely botched by the sopranos. It was also quite obvious that many people were lost in the choreography, which seemed to highlight unimportant sections and ignore the parts which screamed for action.

The concert concluded with The House is a Rockin which featured the most creative choreography from the Concert Chorale. The only criticism I had was that people were unsure of the choreography and of the modulation, which was performed quite clumsily. Otherwise it was very engaging and had the audience rising to their feet with a standing ovation.

Overall it was a wonderful performance with some rough sections that no one minded because the energy level was contagiously high. There is one not I would like to make, however, and it is that the skirt levels on most of the ladies was much to high. Many audience members commented to me that when the girls sat on the risers they practically put their panties on display. When one is performing on a stage that is more than four feet off the ground, the cutoff length for skirts should be no higher than the knee. If this can not be followed, shorts are a necessity for the sake of the audience.

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