Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Choral Chameleon

SO, you know that vocal ensemble Choral Chameleon?

What? You don't? How could this have happened??

Alright, you're off the hook. While they'd been in the works for quite a while, they've only had once concert so far: a Holidayish offering at the Broadway Presbyterian Church in December. I know, I know: this is waaaay behind the times, but - the group will be back, and next time you'll get to be one of those lucky people in the know.

Vince Peterson directs a chorus of about 15 voices. While their Vision Statement (not to be confused with their Mission Statement. They make a lot of statements.) claims that they have assembled irrespective of age, they would appear to be a young bunch. This is not a criticism: without sacrificing professionalism or musicianship, they bring a fresh approach to programming, an adventurous spirit and a palpable (and infectious) enthusiasm to their singing.

They performed music inspired by Medieval Plainchant and music adapted from English folksong; Christmas Carols from American Gospel and African vernacular. They sang the relatively obscure (Joan Szymko's Nada te turbe - at any rate, that was unknown to me, and featured a lovely Cello line), and the all too well-known (White Christmas, Winter Wonderland - though that was in a fun new arrangement by Tony Asaro). Their warm voices blended into a hauntingly beautiful reading of Nurit Hirsch's Bashana Haba'ah. And they did not shy away from the very challenging, handling Poulenc's Quatre Motets pour un temps de Noel with intelligence and finesse.

Sure, there were moments of imprecision. Sometimes I would have liked to hear more power (although to be fair, there are only 15 of them). But what a treat to hear a new ensemble with such imaginative programming and ambitious intent. Keep them on your radar.

And maybe next time they won't let that pipe organ at Broadway Presbyterian loom silent behind them...

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