The Sacramento Choral Calendar
River City Chorale
There's a Song in the Air! - May 1, 2015
by Nancy Bramlett
River City Chorale's May 1st concert was packed with fans. The Chorale began in 1977, making them almost 40! The singers numbered almost 60 and the Chamber Choir, 20. Just looking at the program was delightful. There was an amazing variety of music in store!
(You can find a copy of the program here.)
As the singers precessed in, I admired their costume choice of black and pastels, something creative. The first piece, from Beethoven's only oratorio, was a good challenge for all, including accompanist Kathy Earl Midgley, who conquered it masterfully.
The River City Chamber Choir kicked off the "Love Songs" section with a madrigal. What a fun piece, exclaiming repeatedly, “You stole my love, Fie on you.” I had to think about that one, before I realized the “Fie” meaning. Guess that means I'm a bit rusty with my Olde English!
Gershwin's “Love Walked In” wooed us with warm, wonderful harmonies as it “drove my shadows away” and “brought my sunniest day.” Then the traditional “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” contrasted the men and women well. The "Love Songs" section concluded with the well-known, “When I Fall in Love.” Very well done.
Two sacred songs followed, the first by the director, Richard Morrissey — a simple and beautiful song. I love to hear local composers. The second was by John Leavitt. It had wonderful rhythms, and punctuation of beat: exciting! And it made my hands want to leap to action, conducting or tapping. My imagination added some dancers up front for even more fun!
The first half ended with the “Lullaby of Broadway,” from the musical 42nd Street. It was ironic because, of course, none of us were sleepy!
After intermission we were treated to a collection of John Denver songs! So much fun! I knew the lyrics to all of them, but managed to hold my tongue — just barely. “Annie's Song,” “Thank God I'm a Country Boy,” and “Rocky Mountain High” were my favorites in this set, but I missed my absolute favorite John Denver song, ”Sunshine on my Shoulders.”
I was not familiar with Norman Morris, the arranger of the next two pieces, but I was so glad to be introduced to him. Morris was a British accompanist, choral director, opera director and inspiration to many. He was a person who took his gifts to the people, even those with Alzheimer’s, bringing joy and health to many. “Let us Break Bread Together” was one of my favorites, and I loved how he made “This Little Light of Mine” SHINE!
The next set was completely unexpected fun! It was a tribute to Romberg. Well “Romberg” did not mean anything to me at first, but when Richard Morrissey started explaining about the songs, I did a double-take. I had been given a lot of old music (from a century ago, more or less), and I recalled seeing some of the titles, as well as playing through them. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing them come to life this evening, and I ran home to check out my memory. I had four of Sigmund Romberg's pieces from 1921-28. How cool is that? Of course, I had to photograph them and send them to Director Morrissey.
The finale selection of the concert had an enthusiastic spiritual text:
“I can tell the world about this, I can tell the nation that I'm blessed. Tell them what My Lord has done, Tell them that the Comforter has come, And He brought great Joy to my soul. He healed the sick and He raised the dead.”
It was a joyful way to end an enjoyable evening.
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.