While the Symphony Chorus cannot be heard on the current WVSO season, the local community clearly demonstrated their support of the chorus last evening. (ed. note: This sentence was edited for clarity after this article was initially published.)
It was SRO for
Messiah at Christ Church United Methodist
in Charleston. Chairs of all kinds were brought
from rooms throughout the church to accommodate the overflow crow – and some
folks just stood through the concert or sat on the stairs. Christ Church’s David Donathan says: “In my 18 years at CCUM, I have never seen that many people in that
room. It was very exciting!”
their efforts, the 80 member ensemble was rewarded with an extended standing
ovation at the end of the 90-minute concert.
Kudos go to
director Dr. David Castleberry for his leadership, and not just as conductor.
The choice of repertoire, Handel’s Messiah,
was both popular and timely. His judicious cutting created an offering that
both satisfied the audience but did not wear out the chorus. He also matched
the vocal quality of the soloists to the solos well.
conductor, Castleberry was efficient and clear with very little expression
except during the alternating sections of Since
by man … He’d obviously done his job in rehearsal. He took the movements at
a clip, detached and ‘dry’ to match the musical period. A small instrumental ensemble
of 11 provided more than sufficient accompaniment for the chorus and soloists.
Oh – and no stick. It was an intimate performance.
was well-rehearsed and fairly well-balanced. They executed the melismas with
accuracy and delicacy, a quality often lacking in the performance of this work.
The chorus was not unleashed until the Hallelujah
and the following choruses. And Castleberry gave the singers somewhere to go
and grow in the final chorus by starting the Amen section quietly and detached.
As for the
soloists – they were all members of the chorus. What a pleasure! Choristers are
rarely allowed to shine individually but they did last night. Dirk Johnson,
Roger Wolfe, Erin Kishpaugh, Susan Tams, Eva Jones, Winnie Smith and
16-year-old Collin Nelson all acquitted themselves admirably.
WV Symphony Chorus
should also go to the concert sponsor, DiTrapano, Barrett & DiPiero and all
the donors who stepped up to support this dedicated organization. It’s amazing
the commitment a little controversy can elicit.
reports, the retiring offering plates were over-flowing – and well-deserved!
Bravo WV Symphony Chorus!
P.S. The Bloch Sacred Service is planned for the spring semester. Interested
singers can contact Dr. Castleberry by email or at 304.696.2963 to schedule an