Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saginaw Choral Society rocks the roof with Rutter Gloria

Review by Janet I. Martineau

A week ago the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra blew the roof off the top of the Temple Theater with a hallmark performance of Stravinksy's The Rite of Spring.

On Saturday night, not to be outdone, the Saginaw Choral Society did the same with Rutter's Gloria, accompanied by a brass ensemble and percussion.

Put the two pieces in a playoff and we are not sure who would win, although the Stravinksy is a long orchestral piece and the Rutter a short choral work so they are very different. Whatever the case, we have not heard the choral society sound this dynamic and powerful and passionate perhaps ever. Right on the piece totally with a breathtaking precision.

The brass helped deliver the sound that filled the hall, yes, of course. But so too did the chorale, with solo parts layered on in the second movement by Darlene Mikoleizik, Peggy Knutson and Deanna Patton.

But then the whole night, the season finale, was a goodie ... titled Blaze of Glory, with the stage bathed in an attractive easy orange hue and elegant draping hanging overhead.

As usual, music director Glen Thomas Rideout went for the unusual. He opened the evening singing solo in his own arrangement of a Brazilian  Benedictine  chant as one by one the choir came out and joined his voice until all were there.

Another piece had the singers assembled in a circle all the way around him as he conducted in the middle. With the fun "Jabberwocky" by Pottle the singers added to its magic with a variety of noisemakers. And "Magnificent Horses" by Jing Ling Tam had the choir sounding like, well, horses yet also human with the accompaniment of Deanna Popielarz on flute.

There were a couple of other "Gloria" pieces (excerpts from) on the program by other composers and some fine solo work, a chance for the audience to sing at one point, two a cappella pieces in the second half that beautifully showcased the virtuosity of the singers, a little poetry at the outset from Rideout (who is an excellent actor as well as musician).....all of them excellent programmatic choices, sung or spoken superbly, and with A1 clarity of diction.

But we can't get our mind off that Rutter Gloria  and its total magnificence ...its true blaze of glory.


  1. We are SO, SO, SO blessed to have Glen Thomas and the choral society to entertain us! It was a wonderfully entertaining evening, and I am so glad that I have a season ticket so that I could enjoy all of the performances. Last night was indeed A Blaze of Glory!

    Miz Liz

  2. The Rutter Gloria was truly magnificent. The brass was....breathtaking. The singing was....truly perfect. The evening was....magical. Exceeded my expectations, and exerted a power and pull that was irresistible.