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Concert Review

Sierra College Music Department

Winter Songs - December 3, 2014

by Nancy Bramlett

On a rainy December night a couple hundred damp music lovers found warmth and a bright light in the Dietrich Theatre at Sierra College in Rocklin, California.  The Sierra College Concert Choir and the Sierra College Chamber Choir came together to make musical memories. The Concert Choir is a 34-member SATB choir.  The Chamber Choir is an auditioned 19-member SATB choir.  Both are directed by Sarah McQueen Cunningham who holds a Masters Degree in Music Education from CSUS and has been a member of the highly esteemed Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace ensemble.  The accomplished accompanist, David Lee, was a perfect complement to the joyful singers.

(Click here to open the program in a new window.)

The merriment began with a suite of music from the blockbuster movie, Frozen.  The memorized music was quite impressive, and I got quite a few chills from the joint choir performance. 

Then the Concert Choir performed 3 songs alone.  “Winter Song,” a love song of regret that “you” are not at my side.  “Winter, Fire and Snow” (poem by MacDara Woods, music by Brendam Graham and popularized by the renowned Irish choral group, Anuna) hauntingly pulled at my heart, as the woman in the song pleaded with her son to come safely home.  The guitar accompaniment was perfect. “Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming” was then blended with “The Rose” to create a unique piece.

The two choirs joined forces again to share “In the Bleak Midwinter” with a particularly good blend and great accompaniment. Then the Chamber Choir took the stage alone with “In Dulci Jubilo.”  It had a wonderful jazzy feel with percussion accompaniment. Their next song, “Star of Wonder/We Three  Kings” used the men as a pedal point (repeating bass note) to create a great sound. The women’s parts also used a repetition of “star of wonder,” at times dissonant, adding more emphasis on the “wonder” of the night.  The “Coventry Carol” shone next with its silky sound and exceptional dynamics.  “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” featured several soloists.  The bass and tenor duet was particularly good.  The counter-tenor was unexpected and wonderfully done. The “rejoice” at the end provided more chills with its incredible harmony.  The Chamber Choir finished with “An Oiche,” a Gaelic winter love song with lush harmonies and musical magic.

The two choirs joined again for the finale:  “Gaudete”…”'an ancient chant with a twist.”  The driving and perfect rhythm was accentuated and augmented by Tim Stephenson on percussion.  One could not help but move with the energy of the music.  A superb choice and joyful ending to a wonderful winter's night.

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.

2014 Reviews