From their first sensitively executed phrases, the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus conductor Anne Tomlinson coaxed a finely controlled vocal blend from the ensemble. Throughout their performance, perfectly proportioned textural balance mingled with flawlessly merged overtones, evenly produced vocal tone, and gloriously positioned head voice sounds; the latter especially convincing in the soprano tessitura. Equally persuasive was their faultless intonation, especially obvious when performing sustained major triads. This choir impressed with their disciplined response and professional demeanor.
Meir Finkelstein’s L’dor Vador received a richly produced cantabile vocal line where expressively constructed phrases outlined the meaningfully created melodic contours. Soloist Nicole Toto’s maturing timbre added to an appreciation of this finely etched performance. Puzzlingly, this choir’s reluctance to engage with full-blown forte declamations detracted from interpretative exclamation at the music’s climactic pinnacle.
Performing three specially commissioned movements by the Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason’s The Isle is Full of Noises (a tribute to Shakespeare, the choir showed their mettle in handling this complex score with artistic panache and musical maturity. In this modernist setting with its astringent tapestry, the choir impressed with their flawless intoning of diversely shaped clusters, and they showed adept control over staggered breathing (Oh, I have suffered). Accompanist Twyla Meyer displayed enormous skill in handling the piano score’s many intricacies, especially the thrusting rhythmic propulsion in Be Not A’feared. However, Tomlinson is yet to structure the interpretation toward a climactic point as unfortunately an element of sameness permeated the latter section of the work.
In Schubert’s rapturously conceived and performed Seligkeit, Tomlinson allowed the phrasing space as soaring soprano lines resonated in the chapel’s fine acoustic. Here Meyer should consider applying greater finesse when performing the repeated semiquaver figure during the introduction and subsequent interludes.
Caturog na, Nonoy was evocatively delivered, though more care with tonal balance should be shown when the soloist enters her lower register. In a traditional song from Australia, Sesere Eeye the choir needed to deliver more rhythmic verve and vibrancy, though the well co-ordinated movements provided for an enjoyable performance.
Ellington’s It Don’t Mean a Thing was effectively staged though, for my taste, the syncopations required sharper pointing, and consonants at the close of words greater clarity. Jacqueline Santoni’s drumming deserves special mention, especially her vibrant abandon in Amabhayesikili.
Keith Hampton’s Praise His Holy Name revealed the choir’s easy identification with the African-American gospel style, performing this work with understanding and obvious enjoyment. Meyer’s accompaniment was stylishly executed with a felicitously rendered interlude adding a touch of raw edginess to the interpretation.
An American folk song, Sail Away (arranged by Malcolm Dalglish) received a hauntingly magnificent interpretation with the closing phrases highlighting the choir’s splendid breath and tone control. A spine-tingling, passionate performance of the Star-Spangled Banner, followed by a thoughtful rendition of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika brought this very pleasing concert
to a close.
– Jeffrey Brukman –
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