Jamestown Choral Society Delights At Christ First UM

The voices of the Jamestown Choral Society joined to provide a musical welcome to spring, Sunday afternoon, at Christ First United Methodist Church.

The program, titled “All Nature Sings,” was conducted by Cindy Lind Hanson. Joining the Choral Society were the singers of the Southwestern Choraliers and the ladies of Serendipity.

There was a certain irony to the fact that the concert to welcome spring was delayed a few minutes because so many members of the filled audience were having trouble finding a place to park, due to the heavy snow which fell on Saturday and had made so many spaces unusable.

The Choral Society began the program, singing three sacred works, then yielded to the Choraliers, who sang two pieces, then gave way to Serendipity, who sang three works. Then all three groups rose and invited the audience to join in the singing of “The Tree of Life,” by Pecselyi Kiral Imre, following which the Choral society performed five more pieces, this time secular in nature. The entire program lasted just over an hour, and the resulting effect of the program was energetic, upbeat and most enjoyable.

The Choral Society sang quite well. They suffered under an imbalance, with a ratio of five women to each man who sang, but the singing displayed careful training and mastery of the music, which ranged from relatively simple, hymn-like harmonies to complex and demanding choices such as “The Trees,” by Mark Schweizer, which involved challenging, sometimes grating harmonies that they performed with seeming ease.

Hanson, the society’s music director, conducted all of their selections, except “The Tree of Life,” for which she turned the baton over to Susan Huther, conductor of the other two ensembles, and took charge of the church’s powerful pipe organ.

Huther performed accompaniment for the rest of the Choral Society performances, while Laura Flower Hotchkiss accompanied the Southwestern Choraliers.

The Choraliers were a balanced and well-prepared ensemble who brought a youthful energy to the concert. Serendipity was – as always – musically very gifted, each singer capable of soloist-quality performances. They way they adapted their standing, from song to song demonstrated to anyone who listened carefully, each singer’s individual contribution to the performance.

The works performed were well chosen, combining the brightness and energy of the season, while providing a challenge to demonstrate the ensemble’s level of accomplishment.

Two works: “The Heavens Are Telling,” by Franz Joseph Haydn, and the final selection, a large arrangement of “Over the Rainbow,” by Buffalo native composer Harold Arlen, displayed a bit of trouble for the singers, which was otherwise absent from the entire afternoon, and was worthy of mention only because of its rarity.

The next performance in the present concert season of the Community Music Project will take place May 11 at 5 p.m., at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, when the Chautauqua Chamber singers, directed by Rebecca Ryan, will perform a welcome of their own to spring.