The Sacramento Choral Calendar



Concert Review

RSVP (Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace)

Life Songs - April 27, 2012

by Mary Ann Gieszelmann

Take sixteen musicians (equal parts men and women), each with tremendous personal talent and love for singing.  Add years of voice training and experience.  Blend them into a choir under the inspired direction of a leader who knows and loves people and the music that moves them.  Present all this onstage and you have RSVP, Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace.

Founded in Rocklin by Artistic Director Julie Adams in the year 2000, RSVP never fails to delight an audience.  The secret ingredient is the joy they project.  They honestly look so happy to be up there sharing their music that the audience can’t help but be infected by their joyful spirit. 

Over the past two weekends they gave four performances at various venues in Lincoln, Orangevale, and downtown Sacramento.  I attended the one in St. John’s Lutheran Church on L Street on Friday evening, April 27.  The audience filled the church almost to capacity, testimony to the choir’s ever-expanding reputation.

The concert opened with the Sacramento Children’s Chorus (5th-9th graders section) as guest performers.  Under the artistic direction of Lynn Stevens, these youngsters are well on the way to a lifetime of beautiful singing!  Their voices were clear and true, their energy and enthusiasm delightful. 

RSVP’s first selection was “Wonder” from Dances to Life by Mack Wilberg.  This SATB arrangement introduced all their fine voices in a playful, dance-like celebration of the human spirit of wonder—from birth through aging.

Next came “Earth Song” by Frank Ticheli.  This acknowledged the more somber aspects of life, with phrases like “dark stormy hour,” “scorched earth,” and “torn heart.”  But, in keeping with the choir’s outlook, the theme is “music and singing shall be my light,” ending with “through darkness, pain and strife, I’ll Sing, Be, Live, See…”  The harmonies were exquisite in this song—bell-like soprano, deep reverberating bass, and all the beauty of notes in between.

Some selections were familiar to listeners, but done in RSVP’s own masterful way.  Never before had I heard the spiritual, “Steal Away,” nor the well-known “Moon River” sung so beautifully.  “I Am the Voice,” made popular by Celtic Woman, was outstanding in this choir’s SATB arrangement. 

Individuals were sometimes showcased—as when the women sang Norwegian folksong “Our Little Katie” and the men had fun with “Diner” by Mark Sexton.  An original song written by Gaw Vang, alto with RSVP, was the heartfelt “You Find You.”

Nowhere was the group talent more strikingly displayed than with “I Hear Music,” written originally by Loesser and Lane as a popular song with straightforward melody.  With their complicated rhythms and intertwining voices, RSVP made it anything but straightforward, turning it this way and that, looking at it from forward, backwards, and all angles.

RSVP has no home venue, charges no admission, and has no reserved seating.  They perform in various churches and are available at private parties and special events.  Other than good acoustics, their needs are simple—steps for the small group to stand and be seen, a piano, and space for a few other instruments. 

Each series of public performances is given in support of a charity, which has a representative to explain its services and needs.  The audience is encouraged to leave a free-will donation, one-hundred percent of which goes directly to that charity.  This concert series benefited Music Partners in Healthcare, which provides the comfort of soothing music at home or hospital bedside for those who are ill or in their final days of life. Through their lovely harp playing, two women who are Certified Music Practitioners with this organization explained and demonstrated the positive effects of their music.

A non-English-speaking lady, agitated and in pain, was soothed and calmed by the harp, saying through an interpreter, "Doctors and nurses talk to me, and I do not understand.  This language--music--I understand."  They are welcomed in hospital ICUs, where it is observed that soft, simple rhythms can aid premature infants in regulating their immature body processes.  Dementia patients, some who do not speak anymore, often sing along to songs that they learned years ago.  A person in the last days of life, as well as the grieving family members, experience a healing that medicine cannot effect.  Read about Music Partners in Healthcare:

Click here to view the concert program.

All 2012 Reviews