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Sizzling on stage

March 29, 2006|By Joyce Rudolph

All the sizzle and excitement of a South American carnaval are planned for this weekend's Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles concert the at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

This second concert of the chorus' 27th season is one part North American music and another part South American, chorus Executive Director Hywel Sims said.

"I think its going to be the most wonderful mix of old favorites and new music presented with our trademark flair, choreography and lighting ? it's a great show," he said.

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The chorus will take the show on a tour to South America in the fall, where they will visit Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, Sims said.

In planning their repertoire, chorus organizers said they wanted to reflect the diversity of the cultures that make up Los Angeles. One of the largest cultures is of Latin heritage, with the roots that can be traced back to Central and Southern America. Those countries have a rich tradition of poetry, prose and music, which are included in the chorus' program.

A poem by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971, has been put to music in the "La Noche en la Isla" by Basque composer Javier Busto.

"People in Chile are particularly excited to hear we will be singing selections from his poetic work," Sims said.

South American audiences also love opera and music from the European music tradition, Sims said, so the chorus will be singing "Va' Pensiero" from Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Nabucco."

"We were asked to perform it because opera and Italian opera is especially popular in South America, and this particular one is one of the world's most popular choral pieces," he said. "Very stirring music."

The North American part of the program includes audience favorites from shows over the last four years, Sims said. Many were written by Los Angeles composers.

"Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal," a traditional North American folk song arranged for the chorus by Alice Parker, and "In the Space of Now," which was composed by Kevin Robison, the chorus' assistant conductor, will be included in the program. Robison composed the piece as part of its 25th annual celebration two years ago.

The chorus also commissioned Los Angeles composer Byron Smith to write the gospel song, "Just Can't Tell It All," and it will receive its world premiere performance at the concert, Sims said.

This is the chorus' third international tour since it was founded in 1979. When choosing a destination, two things are considered, Sims said.

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