Master Chorale and friends bring a joyful holiday spirit

By Alan Becker

People coming together in order to accomplish something of a positive nature seems to be a rarity in these times. Yet the Master Chorale of South Florida, the Empire Brass, and Pine Crest School Choir have conspired (most effectively) to give us a seasonal program that will lift the spirit from the troubled world of today into a time of contemplation, joy, and hope. All of this took place at the First Presbyterian Church of Pompano Beach, on a serene, if not especially starry Friday night.

Christmas carols, tastefully arranged, formed the bulk of a program that also found time for two Hannukah songs, a carol by Charles Ives, and pieces by Monteverdi and Praetorius. The Empire Brass threw in a few transcriptions of their own, including the Danse Russe from the Nutcracker, and the Troika from Lieutenant Kije. If these arrangements did not exactly erase memories of the originals, they were delightfully effective in their own special way. These brass players could probably play a violin sonata and make it sound interesting.

Dr. Joshua Habermann conducted the Master Chorale with masterly aplomb. The very resonant church acoustic might have covered up a few details, but the essence and spirit of the choir were unmistakable. Even the youngsters from the Pine Crest School Choir were disciplined and sang forth with joy during the Twelve Days of Christmas, South Florida style. That most of the words were unintelligible was certainly not the fault of Pine Crest conductor Larry Mellone who contributed the arrangement.

The longest work on the program was A Christmas Garland by the American composer Conrad Susa. This student of Bergsma and Persichetti is chair of the composition department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The Garland presents a string of several popular carols arranged with wit and creativity. Susa uses his personal harmonic language and compositional skills without straying too far from the original. When the carols emerged in their pristine state, the audience was asked to join in. It was easily the highlight of a program of fun and high accomplishment, and the audience contribution sounded very good indeed.

 The program will be repeated 8 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Miami, and 4 p.m. Sunday at Pine Crest School, Boca Raton. $30, $35 at the door.  954-418-6232.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “Master Chorale and friends bring a joyful holiday spirit”

  1. Posted Dec 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm by kevin card

    This was a wonderful review. It was honest and refreshing, and to the point. Thanks again Mr Becker for a great review on this concert.

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Sat Dec 13, 2008
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