The Sacramento Choral Calendar
REPLAY: Musical Settings of Bedtime Stories - May 4, 2013
by Dena Kouremetis
Sacramento’s May weather beckons us all to an early summer night’s dream, making Saturday’s Vox Musica’s "REPLAY: Musical Settings of Bedtime Stories" even more apropos.
It was my first time hearing Vox Musica’s nine beautifully matched women’s voices as director Daniel Paulson skillfully led this talented group of singers comprised of five sopranos and four altos. As the program began, Paulson donned a Cat-in-the-Hat top hat and bow tie to conduct the group in two Dr. Seuss/Eugene Podanny songs he arranged named Plinker, Plunker and Rainy Day in Utica, N.Y. Clarinetist Daniel Enrico and cellist Krystyna Taylor shared the whimsical set and actress/narrator Rachel Songer participated throughout most of the program, connecting with the children in the audience using her expert storytelling skills. For a spirited, perky performance such as this, I believe it would have been made even better by having the singers off-book, engaging with their audience more.
(Click here to open the concert program in a separate window.)
The evening was made invitingly casual by the appearance of both singers and director in blue jeans and colorful t-shirts, while visuals were provided in the form of projected images (art and storybook illustrations) over the performance area, puppeteers Christopher Carlson and Mary Goodall entertained us during selected songs, and at one point a slender ballerina appeared, dancing her heart away while somewhat obscured by church pews.
Selections included Joan Szymko’s Wynken, Blynken and Nod, Ron Jeffers’ Some Hums, by Pooh, John Muehelsen’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and a masterfully sung rendition of David Husser’s Maggie and Milly and Molly and May. We were reminded of Robert Louis Stevenson’s contributions to bedtime storytelling in the Jyoti Josahentara’s arrangement of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Among the most entertaining moments of the program was when the singers sang their parts grouped on multi-leveled stools and chairs like children in a kindergarten storytelling setting, enhanced by Songer’s narrations and puppets telling the story of The Harmony Jar by Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi.
The second half of the program was an interesting combination of delightful children’s music that included Elizabeth Alexander’s They Have Freckles Everywhere and included Seven Pieces of Me, songs about body parts whose content was partially written by children themselves, as noted in the program. It isn’t often one hears songs about eyes, birthmarks, brains, mouths, fingers and cheeks. My favorite, however was My Legs featuring a jazzy alto solo by Mary Frank.
The program ended with a personal favorite, Eric Whitacre’s Seal Lullaby, whose rhythmic sea swells and enchanting lyrics took us to watery depths and topped off a fascinating journey into music through a child’s eyes.
Vox Musica, directed by Daniel Paulson, was founded in 2006 in a niche of untapped potential in Sacramento’s budding classical music scene. This women’s vocal ensemble enjoys the privileged position of nurturing the choral arts by combining outstanding vocal artistry with innovative programming. Visit their web site at www.voxmusica.net.
Event reviewer Dena Kouremetis studied languages and psychology at Ball State University, Deree University in Athens, Greece and at l'Aliance Française in Paris. A native of San Francisco, she grew up in a family of musicians as well as in and around her father's piano store. A writer, author and journalist, Kouremetis is also a professional blogger for Forbes. She has sung alto voice under Sacramento's Donald Kendrick in University Singers, under Alan Simon for Soli Deo Gloria in the San Francisco Bay Area and currently sings with Placer Pops Chorale under Lorin Miller, where she also serves as corporate sponsorship chair for the newly-formed non-profit organization.
Dena Kouremetis may be reached at email@example.com.