Concert Review:

Chorale has a classically good time

May 13, 2009|By Alison Kjeldgaard

An audience ranging in age, style and musical taste packed the small chapel of First United Methodist Church for the Burbank Chorale’s spring concert Saturday.

The performance, titled “Another Night at the Opera” (in a double play off the title for the Marx Brothers’ comedy film and Queen’s album “A Night at the Opera”), affirmed that opera can be anything but conventional.

“I wanted to pick a program that is interesting and has variety to it,” said Misha Shtangrud, the chorale’s artistic director and conductor.


Featuring composers from different decades and musical backgrounds, Shtangrud created a program that had something for everybody.

The program opened with the bright sounds of Henry Purcell’s “Come Ye Sons of Art,” written as a birthday ode for Queen Mary in 1694. Soprano soloists Catherine Maynes and Sarah Eylands were highlights of the nine-movement work. Maynes’ clear voice rang beautifully over the deep melody of the oboe, while Eylands carried the final duet with bassist Eugene Carbajal.

The talented Colburn Children’s Choir took the stage next, beginning with an a cappella arrangement of Mozart’s overture from “Marriage of Figaro,” followed by the lovely “Ave Maria” aria. The young choir members’ somber faces lit up during the contemporary selections that followed, including John Carter’s playful “Will You Walk a Little Faster” from his “Alice in Wonderland” arrangement.

The second half of the performance accented the chorale’s ability to bring life to their program’s selections. Between operatic classics by Giuseppe Verdi, the chorale performed Freddie Mercury’s opera-rock ballad, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and a seamless choral selection from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” Though the disconnected nature of “Bohemian Rhapsody” could not be fully captured by a chorus singing in square tempo, the chorale easily carried listeners to a steamy 1930s summer with Gershwin’s lilting, bluesy melodies.

The chorale left the stage to a standing ovation after finishing with Verdi’s famous “Brindisi” from “La Traviata” featuring the stunning duet of animated soprano Georgia Treharne and tenor Dave Caylor.

As a whole, the chorale’s concert demonstrated that classical music performances should not be contained within elite circles of listeners or traditional venues. Besides providing a high-quality performance, the chorale showed its diverse community of listeners that classical music can be diverse itself, and more importantly, fun.

 ALISON KJELDGAARD has been playing classical piano for 14 years. She has studied and performed classical piano throughout her undergraduate career at Occidental College, and will perform her senior recital this month.

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