The Sacramento Choral Calendar
Sacramento Master Singers
It Takes Two to Tango - May 19, 2012
by Mary Ann Gieszelmann
The Sacramento Master Singers performed their latest concert, “It Takes Two to Tango,” May 19 and 20 in the First United Methodist Church at 21st and J Streets, Sacramento.
As the name implies, the featured music was the tango and other Latin rhythms. This particular concert was somewhat of a departure from their usual selections, which tend more toward the classical. As one of the singers remarked after the show, “This was our pops concert.”
In keeping with the more informal atmosphere, the choir entered from the rear of the church with loud talking, milling about and calling to one another, evoking a festive mood. The first song, “Vamos a bailar” (Let’s Dance), was set in a dance club and captured the excitement of boys and girls gathered for a competition. After that was a slower, beautiful Morten Lauridsen composition, “Ov e, lass, il bel viso?” (Alas, where is the beautiful face?), a madrigal based on an Italian love poem.
Next came several pieces in English, each a heartfelt love song. The passionate “Come to Me, My Love” by Norman Dello Joio, was included as a tribute to Perla Warren, who influenced these singers so much during her years at American River College. Eric Whitacre’s “A Boy and a Girl” showcased tender emotions with close harmonies in clear, hushed tones, while “I Love My Love” by David Dickau was more joyful.
Most of the remaining choir songs were in Spanish, with English translation provided in the program. They ranged from songs celebrating the joy of spring in Buenos Aires (“Primavera Portena”) to the Ecuadorian celebration of the new year (“Cancion de los Tsachilas”). From the bustle and noise of traffic in Buenos Aires (“Verano Porteno”) to the sweetness and beauty of a well-loved poem, “Se Equivoco La Poloma.”
Interspersed throughout the program were guest appearances by some outstanding musicians.
We were treated to several very enjoyable numbers by three people calling themselves, for the occasion, The Cowtown Tango. Each is an outstanding and accomplished musician—Ingrid Peters, violinist with the Sacramento Philharmonic and other groups; Winko Ljizz, the OneManBand pianist-storyteller of Sacramento; and Resh Michael, well-known local tenor called “the Mario Lanza of tango.” Their musical talents and personalities all shone through with their spirit of fun in music-making.
Also featured were Nicolai Prisacar, playing the accordion with finesse as I had never heard it before. And dance partners Alisa Shubb and Mike Bohan added their beautiful visual interpretation of the tangos.
The Master Singers ended with Kurt Weill’s “Youkali.” Though the lyrics are French, it belongs in this program by virtue of its tango rhythm. The choir fell in love with the piece after hearing it last year and identifying with the music and its sentiments. “Youkali” is a fictional island, a fairyland of everything good—Utopia. And they sang it with all their hearts.