Women's Chorus offers bright sunshine

With the break in dismal weather this week, the Williamsburg Women's Chorus delivered a program, Tuesday in Walnut Hills Baptist Church, that heralded our current run of sun and warmth, "The Earth Sings."

As promotional material indicated, the concert would focus on music about nature and the abundance in our world. The fine fare selected by artistic director and conductor Rebecca Davy effectively carried out that the evening's theme, opening with Debussy's "Spring Greetings." A charming work written when he was a teenager, it doesn't exude Debussy's later impressionistic style but its breezy and lyrical style was fully embraced by the Chorus and enhanced considerably by the solo work of soprano Sarah Taylor.

The extensive selections provided were light and lovely and nicely sung by the 40-some strong Chorus, despite occasional moments when enunciation tended to blend the lyrics into a composite sound. Generally, however, a pleasing sense of lyricism was exhibited throughout, along with an equally pleasing sense of unity and vocal quality, the latter noticeably and fortunately void of stand-out vibratos.

Particularly evident was a general sense of enthusiasm and seriousness of intent in producing the best possible product. Certainly Davy led the ladies toward successfully fulfilling that end, aided immensely by the always artistic piano support provided by Christine Niehaus.

The combination of talents and abilities proved particularly pleasing in such works as David Brunner's "Earthsongs," a tuneful trio of songs, and Dan Forrest's Psalm 8, both of which featured lovely violin lines by Susan Via; Z. Randall Stroope's thoughtful "Song to the Moon," which found Via joining forces with flutist Debra Moore Kidney; Cecilia McDowall's soothing and melodious "Drink the Sky"; and Libby Larsen's "Today This Spring" which featured the rhythmic "Spring," jaunty "She Piped for Us," and the reflective "If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking."

The Choraliers is an ensemble drawn from the larger body that serves as sort of a outreach group that takes music to other locales and organizations. It was featured in a Stephen Chatman's "Three Elizabethan Songs" which the ensemble delivered with full voiced enthusiasm and effervescence.

As an intermezzo type moment, Niehaus, Via and Kidney teamed up for an upbeat and joyful delivery of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu's jaunty "Promenade I," the execution of which showcased their collective musical skill, technique and ensemble.

The program also featured the Williamsburg Youth Chorale, under the direction of Genrose Lashinger and Ann Porter, which offered a sweetly and delicately sung "Sing to Me" and a joyful "Tres Canciones de los Elementos."

The Chorale joined the Chorus in the closing "Come Join Our Song of Praise," a work that Virginia Beach composer John Dixon reworked specifically for Women's Chorus. It was a very fine and uplifting close to a program of well conceived and nicely sung works.

Shulson, a Williamsburg resident, has been covering the arts for over 40 years. He makes a guest appearnce in Margaret Truman's "Murder at the Opera."

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
75°