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The Music School of Delaware’s
Spring Choral Concert showcased the talents of four ensembles in an eclectic
program at the school’s Wilmington Branch on Sunday, May 1, 2016 featuring music from church, folk and pop/rock traditions.
The Delaware Women's Chorus, led by Music Director Joanne Ward
The concert opened with five selections
by Bella Voce, a 10-member choir consisting of students from Grades 2 though
8, under the direction of faculty member Marybeth Miller. If these young
singers represent the future of music, we’re in good hands. The group showed
its versatility with capable renderings of two Dominican folk songs, three
nonsense ditties (Two Tongue Twisters and Antonio) as well as the Harry
Belafonte-penned folk song Turn the World Around. Their set concluded with
the traditional spiritual Twelve Gates into the City, which spotlighted
their individual voices.
Next up was the recently formed
Adult Jazz Choir which performs under the direction of Martin Lassman. Their
segment opened with a sublime rendering of John Lennon’s In My Life — arguably
the best pop song ever written. Sopranos Jackie Slavin and Kayla Holden and
Bass Sam Parks offered capable solos. The group showed off its mastery of
complex harmonies in a haunting delivery of The Meaning of the Blues, the
much-recorded 1957 classic by Bobby Troup and Leah Worth. Soprano Slavin was
joined in solo outings by Tenor Dennis Connor and Bass Robert Weiner.
Individual members then showed off their improvisatory skills — including some
respectable scat singing — in their segment closer Joe’s Place.
We then heard a uniquely organized
program by The Delaware Women’s Chorus under the direction of Joanne Ward,
chair of the school’s voice department. The group presented three sets of
paired songs, each with a different take on a single concept. The first pairing — In
Love/Not in Love — featured Arise, My Love and No Thank You, John. Motherhood
got a turn with the nostalgic Music In My Mother’s House and Heartstrings, a musical rendering of a poignant conversation a mother has with her teen-aged daughter. Choir member Carolyn Becker provided the cello
The final pairing dealt with
empowerment. In Lineage, a musical setting of Margaret Walker’s poem, the
narrator compares herself unfavorably to the women of previous generations,
while From Dusk to Dawn sings of the strength of Liberian protesting the
civil war which engulfed their country until 2003. Soprano Ann Warren soloed.
We were then treated to a
performance by Philadelphia-based a cappella group Vocal Motive, who appeared
at the invitation of Ward. This 14-member mixed-voice ensemble under the
direction of Doug Stuart was founded in 2012 by longtime friends seeking a
return to the a cappella singing of their college years. The group is quickly
gaining a following in the Philadelphia
area with good reason: They love to sing and it shows.
The set the tone immediately with a
rousing rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s foot-stomping Down on the
Corner and kept the rhythm moving with Jason Mraz’s immensely successful I’m
Yours. They showed their softer side with Billy Joel’s hymn-like And So It
Goes, became contemplative with Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These
Years, and evoked feelings of a distant time period with Barton
Hollow/Bottom of the River.
They attempted to close things out
with Queen’s gospel-tinged Somebody to Love. I say 'tried' because the
audience came to its feet begging an encore which they supplied with a
rendition of James Taylor’s poignant The Lonesome Road.
The Delaware Women's Chorus and the Adult Jazz Choir will hold auditions in the coming months for new members, by appointment, at the Music School's Wilmington Branch, located at 4101 Washington Street in Wilmington. Call 302.762.1132 to schedule.