REVIEW: (Singing Hoosiers) New director of show choir made debut a ‘golden hour’

MUSIC REVIEW: SINGING HOOSIERS
New director of show choir made debut a ‘golden hour’

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer | pjacobi@heraldt.com
October 8, 2012

Should there be an outage locally in our future, I have a possible solution for the authorities. Hire the current crop of Singing Hoosiers. Let them loose. Their surge of energy is likely to be sufficient to restore service.

The new configuration of IU’s show choir introduced itself on Friday evening in Auer Hall (and again on Saturday). It introduced not only itself but the ensemble’s new director, Stephen Zegree. He’s just the fourth to take that position in 63 years, and from what one heard and saw this past weekend, one can only hope he’ll be around a long time.

He’s the real goods. In a matter of six weeks or so, he has turned these 90 young performers, these 90 Singing Hoosiers, into a true choir, capable of handling the most complicated arrangements with seeming ease and an infectious spirit.

They sang up a storm. They danced up a storm. But their storm was all sunshine, a joyous musical celebration added to by the guest presence of Tim Noble, the Jacobs School’s distinguished professor whose resonant baritone is being lent these days to fare from Broadway and the American songbook, following decades of focus on opera.

So, we had the Singing Hoosiers. We had Stephen Zegree, directing, dancing nimbly, bantering and playing a mean piano, jazz and otherwise. We had Tim Noble exuding ebullience of personality and decibels of voice. We had eight well-tuned instrumentalists. Together, they made for a golden hour.

Zegree disclosed a masterful sense for pacing. With the choristers scattered throughout the hall, he led them in a stirring arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was followed by a super-charged, just about over-the-top performance of “Keep Movin’” that got the crowd roaring; then, “Georgia on My Mind,” Hoagy Carmichael’s familiar ballad, done ever so sweetly; then, a rock-and-rolling “Smack Dab in the Middle.”

At that point, Tim Noble came along, to sing with the choir, to sing with a portion of it, to sing with Zegree at the piano. And again, variety was part of the key to success as Noble moved from the “Stop the World — I Want to Get Off” show-stopper, “Gonna Build a Mountain,” to the lilting Italian Serenade, “Return to Sorrento,” and from “My Fair Lady’s” “On the Street Where You Live” to a fast-as-lighting “Ya Got Trouble” from “The Music Man.” Noble was terrific.

The Singing Hoosiers, back in the spotlight, sang a lovely “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Cole Porter’s teasing melody. Zegree then switched to a departure-from-the-norm for the choir: Mozart, a surprising, catchy, delightfully frothy vocal translation of the Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Zegree promoted the Singing Hoosiers’ Christmas show with a favorite from that annual celebration, the “Jingle Bell Fantasy,” led by the group’s Varsity Singers; it was fully up to par.

A new assistant director was introduced; Ly Wilder, a Bloomington-based arranger and conductor, raised the oomph level as she lead “Stand Up and Make a Change,” an anthem by Wilder and Greg Jasperse with plenty of kick to it. As elsewhere during the program, the choreography of Joe Giovannetti, Emily Paulsen and Chris Yousif was much in evidence.

The packed program ended with “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” sung beautifully, a final reminder that, most importantly, this year’s Singing Hoosiers, guided by their new mentor, are musically in tiptop shape.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2012

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