Culver City Observer -

Master Chorale's Holiday Concerts Entertain As Usual

 

December 31, 2015



By Steven Lieberman

Observer Reporter

Grant Gershon, esteemed Artistic Director/Conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC), filled the Walt Disney Concert Hall with his passion and joy as they presented their annual holiday concerts.

He channeled his enthusiasm during the LAMC’s presentation of “Festival of Carols” on December 12 and Handel’s Messiah on December 20.

The LAMC rung in the holiday season with a concert of favorite carols sung by one of the greatest chorales in the world. Sprinkled with new arrangements (four by composer in residence Shawn Kirchner, who also sings in the tenor section) and traditional Christmas songs of the season, including one “Chanukah Suite,” this “festive” concert, an LA tradition, put audience members in a good mood.

The 108-member Chorale was accompanied by accomplished organist John West and pianist Lisa Edwards. West inspired all 6000 pipes to fill Disney Hall with a glorious sound along with the wonderful voices of the extremely capable chorus.

From “Hark the Herald Angles Sing” to “We Need a Little Christmas.”

The audience even got to sing-along to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” in which Santa made a surprise cameo appearance and conducted the chorus as Gershon stepped down to join in with the singers.

Messiah is one of the greatest, if not the greatest chorale composition of all time (next to Bach’s Mass in B Minor), and Gershon’s interpretation of Handel’s masterpiece created a transcendent experience for all in attendance. The marriage of Handel and Gershon’s joyful baton conveyed a stream of harmonic fluidity that seemed to trump all of the chorale’s past annual performances.

It’s also most amazing that it took Handel only 24 days to compose it.

Gershon enlisted the services of four soloists hand-picked from the Chorale. Soprano Hayden Eberhart, mezzo soprano Janelle DeStefano, tenor Jon Lee Keenan, and baritone Steve Pence. Pence and his Sterling baritone voice was the brightest spot among the soloists.

Their voices seemed to clearly resonate throughout the acoustically-sound Disney Hall. A hall that was creatively decorated with silver snowflakes dangling from the ceiling and special lighting that created a snow-like effect on the walls.

The 48-member Chorale, accompanied by the LAMC chamber orchestra, sang the chorus parts with a synergetic blend that created a chemistry that I’m sure made Handel smile. From the majestic “Hallelujah” to a soaring “The Trumpet shall sound,” the audience members’ spirits were lifted and “raised.”

For information about future performances, visit: http://www.lamc.org.

 

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