Music review: Choristers mix old and new
March 25, 2013
If Steve Zegree were able to harness, bottle and sell the energy released when his recently acquired show choir, the Singing Hoosiers, performs, he could probably solve the money needs for desired tours that he spoke of during the ensemble’s Spring Concert in the Indiana University Auditorium Saturday evening.
Short of that fantasy, he and his young charges made an awfully strong case for support. Listening to audience response, one can imagine checkbooks opening.
The Singing Hoosiers are surely in a stage of evolution under a director with different performance goals from his predecessor, Michael Schwartzkopf, who, not so incidentally, made a welcome appearance in mid-concert to lead current and former members of the chorus in a stirring interpretation of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
There remains a commitment to music from the American Songbook. Some of this writer’s favorite moments came when the choir jauntily sang Irving Berlin’s “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” when Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” received deliciously sensuous treatment, when Hoagy Carmichael was remembered with dreamy, stunning realizations of “Georgia on My Mind,” “Skylark,” and “Stardust,” along with a rollicking, ever-faster Al Cobine arrangement of “Lazy River.” In them all, Zegree’s mastery of choral sound and training came to the fore.
So, too, the zippy vocalization of Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” spotlighted his ability to shape nuance, a quality one yearns for in choral music.
In a syncopated version of “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” and a respectful but somewhat rearranged “Star-Spangled Banner,” Zegree’s penchant for change made itself known, as also in numbers where the Singing Hoosiers were encouraged to dress down and soloists to belt more than sing. There was also a move in other items on the program toward heavier amplification, which seemed to arouse approving yelps and yells from the younger in the crowd.
On the whole, the current choristers are being guided in a jazzier, rockier, more free-form direction, which may disturb those tied nostalgically to previous incarnations of the choir but follows trends that cannot be ignored if the ensemble is to be paid its proper due in today’s (and probably tomorrow’s) performance firmament.
Two other newcomers added to the evening when the IU African-American Choral Ensemble joined the Singing Hoosiers. Its conductor, Raymond Wise, unleashed the two choirs in a spirited presentation of his own Gospel piece, “I Don’t Know What You Come to Do.” Jazz specialist Ly Wilder followed, taking charge for a Wilder/Greg Jasperse anthem, “Stand Up and Make a Change.”
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2013