The Sacramento Choral Calendar
Sacramento Valley Chorus
Our Past Present & Future - October 20, 2012
by Dick Frantzreb
There were two performances today of this annual show of the Sacramento Valley Chorus; I attended in the afternoon. The show began with a set of favorite songs from past concerts. The first of these was “Razzle Dazzle,” and it was indeed that: an intense, highly choreographed song that grabbed you by the shoulders, shook you, and made you realize you were in for some serious, high-energy entertainment. As they proceeded to other songs, it was clear that these ladies were loaded with personality, animated in every song they presented. There were no dead faces or motionless bodies on that stage, and that energy really connected with the audience. A lot of that vitality came out in the frequent choreographed moves, which made the group as much fun to watch as it was to listen to. Director Lynne Erickson was herself a big part of the show. She seemed like the dynamo that powered the whole chorus, and her directing amounted to a choreography of her own that made it almost as interesting to watch her back, as it was to watch the chorus face-on.
I counted 65 singers – or was it 70? It was hard to count because they were moving so much. And besides the entertaining choreography, I was struck with the quality of their sound. I was often conscious of the good blend and intonation, and I think the room (the Orangevale Community Center) helped, with its high ceiling and concrete block construction, making it easier for the singers to hear one another and easier for the audience to appreciate them in the absence of electronic sound reinforcement. It’s also worth noting that, despite the acoustic liveliness of the room, the articulation was outstanding: I felt that I could make out nearly every word they were singing. That’s something choruses really have to work at to achieve.
I’d say that, beyond the pure entertainment quality, nearly all the music I heard this afternoon was eminently listenable. (Click here for selections from the printed program.) Besides “Razzle Dazzle,” I especially liked “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Oh, You Beautiful Doll,” the latter of which was performed with amazing energy and choreography that made it a full-fledged production number. But then there was “Fame,” which was positively electric. And that was followed by “It’s Raining Men,” which I had never heard before, and which had me laughing throughout – it was that cute. And I liked their rendition of “Proud to Be an American” better than Lee Greenwood’s.
A major part of the show consisted of performances by 6 quartets. Actually, one included 7 women, making them a “heptet” – a term I think they’d like. Each of these groups sang a single number, highly stylized and with a strong dose of showmanship. Honestly, though, none of the quartets came up to the vocal quality of the chorus as a whole, and I think much of what held them back was the inadequate microphone set-up: it just didn’t seem to me to give a good balance of the voices.
The last third of the show was devoted to the SVC's "future," and it featured a number of contemporary tunes and edgy arrangements that got me thinking “this ain’t your grandma’s Sweet Adelines.”
These ladies are good singers and capable of a wide emotional range. They are also, incidentally, a very diverse group (in occupations, ethnicity, etc.). But they are especially proud of the recent influx of younger members that gives them a wide mix of ages. Another source of pride for them is that, topping their second-place finish in the Sweet Adelines Region 12 competition last April, they have been selected as only one of 4 women’s choruses to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall next May. Based on what I saw this afternoon, that New York performance should be a great show, too.