Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace (RSVP)
Through the Eyes of a Child - June 6, 2014
by Nancy Bramlett
On Friday, June 6th, I spent a wonderful evening with Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace (RSVP). I had heard of them years before, but had not had the pleasure of actually attending one of their performances. My loss. Others knew better. The house was packed. With just 13 members (8 men and 5 women), they had an incredibly rich sound.
This particular set of concerts (Friday and Saturday) benefitted Lilliput Children's Services, a private, non-profit agency licensed by the State of California for both foster care and adoption. They are domestic adoption specialists, completing more foster adoptions than any other private California adoption agency. They are also a leading Kinship Care services provider in California (providing support for children remaining with extended family).
RSVP provided a stunning beginning to this concert which was titled, “Through the Eyes of a Child.” The first piece actually proved to be my favorite, bringing chills down my spine and tears to my eyes at the breathtaking and intricate harmonies and perfect high notes of “Ave Maria” by Kevin A. Memley, with a fabulous solo by Monica Crumley. I had not heard contemporary composer Mr. Memley's work before, but hope that I hear more.
You can see the entire program here.
The prayerful and poignant plea continued with “Prayer of the Children”, with both the lyrics and music written by Kurt Bestor in response to the plight of the children in war-torn Yugoslavia.
Then everything got all whimsical with “Alice in Wonderland” and the “Land of Pure Imagination” from Willie Wonka. Lots of delighted smiles and twinkling eyes met the memories that were brought to life.
The set came to a close when a particularly moving version of “Sometimes I Feel” brought us back to the plight of the children, with a plaintive solo by Lin Kassouni Walker.
Then we had the privilege of hearing of the work and stories of Lilliput Children's Services. A family shared their journey to adopting four children through Lilliput and explained how Lilliput supported them along the way. It was an inspiring story of unlimited love.
Next we got to see the children. How very fitting to have Lynn Stevens and the Sacramento Children's Chorus join with RSVP this night. They performed five pieces. My favorites were “The Map of the Clock” by Garrett Shatzer, which was commissioned for their choir and “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” complete with narrator (Molly Robinson), soloist (Jenna Hansen) and dancer (Monique Lonergan), all of whom gave outstanding performances. Monique was particularly impressive with great beauty and grace, strength and control.
“How Do I Love Thee” was very jazzy and seemed to be a favorite of the children. Eyes twinkled and smiled, bodies moved to the music, and it made me want to join in on the fun! Then they closed with a perfect song for the theme: “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods by David Sondheim. “Careful the things you say, Children will listen. Careful the things you do. Children will see and learn.”
RSVP returned with some good old fun! “Singing in the Rain,” “Smile Though You're Heart is Aching,” and “Baby.” “Baby” was a huge hit with soloist David Saul Lee leading the way in an incredibly fun Bobby McFerrin piece with a message of lovingly and intentionally teaching our children how to take our place. A return to the seriousness of the message brought a new song to my ears. “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” written by Dolly Parton, encouraged us with its uplifting message of hope.
Sacramento Children's Chorus returned for a song featuring both choirs, called “Music Lead the Way.” This song was another perfect choice in programming. The message of coming together from all over the world with music to lead the way to peace and love, conquering strife, is a message that rings loud and clear in a group that constantly raises money and awareness of groups that are making a difference in the world.
I was blessed and moved by the entire evening and I urge everyone to take the very next opportunity to relish RSVP’s jazz harmonies and their compassion for their fellow human beings.
Nancy Bramlett is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano from Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance. She has most recently studied with Marla Volovna in San Francisco and Zoila Munoz in Davis. Nancy has had the honor of traveling all over the US and to Europe with the Bradley University Chorale. She has sung in several choirs since then, as well as performing in opera and musical theater productions and singing solos for local churches, as well as weddings and memorial services. Nancy has directed choirs; taught voice, piano and Kindermusik; and has been a music director for musical theater. She is currently busy with Classical Music for Christ and as a regular soloist for Cottage Way Christian Church in Sacramento and the Placer County Youth Orchestra. Nancy resides in Rocklin with her husband Scott and three sons: Patrick, Riley and John.