Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saginaw Choral Society's "A World of Carols" dispelled winter gloom

review by Janet I. Martineau
Granted it was a Saginaw CHORAL Society concert on Saturday afternoon at the Temple Theatre.
But it was instruments and visuals that tickled the fancy:
 -- of a saxophone player dressed like a snow globe character (Jonathan Hulting-Cohen in the unusual-sounding “Caprice en Forme de Valse”) 
-- of a bell choir exquisitely performing two  complicated pieces (the Bells on High from First  United Methodist Church on “How the Greenblade Riseth” and “Farandole”) 
-- of conductor Glen Thomas Rideout performing his own embellished arrangement of “The Christmas Song”/”Christmastime is here” on piano
-- of dozens and dozens of socks donated by concertgoers in the lobby (and headed to warm the feet of the needy)
-- of Rideout dancing out on the stage as intermission ended and the second half began with “Mi Zeh Y’maleil”
-- of two pianists at one piano (Carol Angelo and Betty Mayer on “The Virgin Mary had a baby boy”)
--  and of two conductors conducting at once (Rideout the singers and Catherine McMichael her church bell choir in “Bells in the high tower”). 
Add to that the bell-like sound the singers created at one point as the music segued into the bell choir ....well, “A Concert of Carols” was quite an afternoon’s delight.
Rideout’s theme was light -- as in the light of this season as seen by Christianity (the birth of Christ), the Jewish faith (Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights), Winter Solstice (the end of the darkest days) and even Kawanzaa (the light of its seven principles).
And the music he chose? Nigerian, Ukranian, Hungarian, British, West Indian, American; gospel, calypso and classical; very little overly familiar .. as well as teaching the audience four-part harmony and three-part hand-clapping on “Freedom Song.”
No insult intended to the Saginaw Choral Society, but when the more than 1,000 in the audience was set to singing at several points -- WOW, we sounded fantastic.
We may indeed be “In the bleak midwinter,” as the Holst tune said, but things definitely brightened up with this CHORAL concert plus.

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