Showing posts with label David Christopher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Christopher. Show all posts

Monday, May 16, 2011

Delaware Valley Chorale and Delaware Symphony at Immanuel Church

David Christopher conducted members of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and his Delaware Valley Chorale in a performance May 15 at Immanuel Church on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Gloria by Lee Hoiby, an American composer who died at age 85 this past March, was harmonically conservative. Hoiby was often accused of having the same style as those who preceded him a century before. Yet, he was called to Curtis by Gian Carlo Menotti after one of his friends showed his work to the famous composer and teacher at the Curtis Institute. Hoiby went on to have a long and successful career.

Written in memory of the brother of one of the DVC members, this piece has a lovely trumpet, trombone and timpani orchestration with organ obbligato that is tightly written and worked beautifully in the large stone sanctuary.

The Brahms Requiem had the support of 52 instrumentalists which sometimes overwhelmed the chorus, but sounded so good that you forgot about that right away.

Soloist Grant Youngblood had no problem holding his own against the group, mesmerizing the audience with his full, rich voice and his ability to communicate the Herr, lehre doch mich (Lord, make me know) and the Denn haben wir keine bleibende Stadt (For we have no continuing city).

Soprano June Suh’s mellow, rounded sound also carried over the orchestra without a hitch. Her high notes seemed effortless as she sang with quiet poise. Her solo melted away but the note continued on the flute in a transition so seamless no one knew where the soprano voice ended and the flute began.

It was a great idea to have players from the Delaware Symphony support this impressive chorale performance.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010 Italian Festival Gala Concert

It was Jean Scalessa who really started the Gala Concert eight years ago – and it has become a more professional and polished concert each year. But how can we appreciate those who have the courage to start a concert series and who accept the risk that a new series might fail? And after the grueling work of convincing everyone to join in, they then hand it over to the lucky successor who has a ready-made tradition.

The first performers on the Gala Concert this year were the Wilmington Children’s Chorus, another group founded by a pioneer. David Christopher founded a chorus for kids living in the Wilmington area hoping to mix kids from city and suburbs and create a free, quality choral program. Kimberly Doucette, an active participant from the start of the project and current artistic director, prepared the kids well, showing how she has truly created an atmosphere of discipline administered with a smile. The kids came on quietly, sang well, watched the conductor, had the lyrics down pat (and they sang in Italian). Afterwards I complimented one of the singers who responded with a warm and sincere ‘thank you’ – no teenage squirming or dodging, which shows the program will give them music and mature poise.

Joe Soprani played an outstanding arrangement he created for accordion of Carnival of Venice. The accompaniment on piano by Jordan Irazabal was a great foundation for the piece.

The program also included excerpts from operas, and I was impressed with the round bass voice of Martin Hargrove in Verdi’s Te Lodiamo.

I enjoyed the traditional Italian numbers like Va pensiero from Verdi’s Nabucco, which I like to sing with the chorus and I was delighted that Dr. Brian Stone brought more discipline to the conducting than I had seen in the past. The chamber orchestra also had a great sound for Preghiera from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni – again rounded out by piano.

Would that there had been more orchestral accompaniments than piano reductions! Piano reductions are great, but why use them when you have a full chamber orchestra for the afternoon? If they use the chamber orchestra for all of the solos next year, the concert will have developed in a way that would make Jean Scalessa proud.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Old-time religion in 'God's Trombones'

The Delaware Valley Chorale's concert Saturday night at Newark United Methodist Church was terrific -- good enough to hear again on Sunday, Nov. 22, in Wilmington.

"God's Trombones" -- a sermon in verse by poet James Weldon Johnson -- is a tribute to the fiery black preachers of the old South, arranged against traditional Negro spirituals by composer Roy Ringwald. Guest conductor Lawler Rogers and the chorus caught their visceral energy and emotional conviction.

With narrators Tina Betz as the prayer leader and Joshua Martin as the preacher, it was thrilling to hear. Betz spoke with the passion of belief, and Martin had a sonorous dignity in retelling the Creation and Last Judgment stories.

Franz Schubert's Mass in G was gorgeous, with lovely interplay in the Agnus Dei between the soloists Angelyn Robinson, soprano; David Anderson, tenor; and Jeffrey Chapman, baritone. Nancy Chronister was the conductor.

"On Green Mountains" by Steve Danyew won the chorale's 2009 composition contest. Danyew set a simple lyric praising nature to sweeping melody. The choir, led by artistic director David Christopher, rendered the mood with seamless cohesion.

Danyew, a graduate student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., will attend Sunday's concert too. The program will be at Saints Andrew and Matthew Episcopal Church, 719 N. Shipley St., Wilmington.

Tickets are $20, $16 for seniors and students, $8 for children under 12. Call (302) 325-4110. Or see

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

David Christopher gets around

As one of the mothers of the Wilmington Children’s Chorus said at the spring concert, “There is no one that David Christopher doesn’t know.” Christopher was her first voice teacher 15 years ago and now she drives her daughter to rehearsals from West Grove, Pa.

David Christopher balances like an expert – playing harpsichord for the Delaware Symphony, conducting operas, directing choirs and orchestras. His Christmas concerts at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew combine sacred 16th-century polyphony with Caribbean jazz carols lets the congregation express their joy of diversity and community.

He has taken over the Delaware Valley Chorale and honed it into a skilled and dedicated group. Christopher has also directed the Wilmington Children’s Chorus since 2002. He is a singer, organist, harpsichordist, classical and gospel pianist – but his real talent is to patiently turn the pitch- and rhythm-challenged into willing performers and listeners.


Wilmington Children's Chorus

The spring concert of the Wilmington Children’s Chorus on May 17 was an eye-opener. When more than 90 children have memorized the Italian lyrics to a song by a 17th-century German composer and sing with gusto, something good is happening.

David Christopher has built a choir of some one hundred kids from the city and suburbs, even out of state, and ranging in age from 8 to 18. The City of Wilmington’s CITYFEST Office is the sponsor.

Kimberly Doucette led the Chamber Choir in songs by Monteverdi, Handel and Lefevre.

Chrystal Hass led the entire chorus in a traditional South African song which was moving in an a capella style similar to Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Damala Haire sang the solo for “I Got Rhythm” by Gershwin. Her voice is pure and strong, and she performed with the ease of a professional.

Pianist Hiroko Yamazaki accompanied the choir and Johnathan Whitney provided percussion, with assistance from Philip Doucette, the chorus manager.

Wilmington Children’s Chorus is also performing at the Grand Opera House at 3 p.m. June 21, and will be joined by some of the jazz artists in the 20th annual DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. That concert is free and open to the public.

Wilmington’s Children’s Chorus is holding a day camp for musicians from July 13 through 17 for children having completed grades 2 through 8. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with music all morning, lunch, a little more rehearsal, then swimming, movies and other recreation. There is still financial aid available.