Fourteen voices, seven instrumentalists, a conductor and accompanist delighted the audience Sunday evening (May 17) with a fine concert of mostly Mozart fare.
The vocal ensemble is comprised of quality voices, many of whom are soloists. The singers were not stifled by a forced blend. The blend is in the vowel sounds which were obviously addressed by the conductor, as evidenced by the shape of the singers’ mouths.
I have to confess to a preference for this kind of ensemble, both as a participant and as a listener. The smaller ensemble is capable of producing a full sound, while the conductor essentially shares the music-making with the vocalists.
The approximately hour-long performance began with a trio of pleasing contemporary compositions and arrangements.
Then the group launched into the meat of the program – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
From the singer’s perspective, you can rarely go wrong with Mozart. He’s so logical and tuneful. The vocal line goes right where you expect it to go, right where it needs to go.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
The Mozart fare began with three smaller works, two of them very familiar to choral singers – Ave Verum Corpus and Laudate Dominum. Emily Capece, an alto in the ensemble, was more than up to the soaring soprano solo in the Laudate. The third work was a little-known Jubilate Deo.
An instrumental piece by Mozart followed with two violins and organ, giving the singers a respite before the main work, Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C, the “Spatzen.”
This lovely mass employed strings, timpani and trumpets plus harpsichord and gave a number of vocalists the opportunity to shine in solo sections.
David Donathan, Opus Artistic Director and Conductor
I happen to think that Charleston audiences are much too eager to reward local performances, but the Mozart mass elicited a well-deserved standing ovation.
The encore was a fabulous arrangement of Shenandoah by Derric Johnson. A little Web research turned up this Web site. Johnson is certainly prolific, and possesses a definite style. He’s got a “print on demand” element on his site for any interested conductors looking for music.
David Donathan has only been artistic director and conductor of this ensemble since January. He’s made an auspicious start.
Several newer vocal ensembles have sprung up over the last few years. Let’s hope the apparently limited audience for choral repertoire in the Kanawha Valley will support all of these fine choral groups.