The Sacramento Choral Calendar
Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus
Holiday Mix Tape - December 1, 2017
by Terrie Carrozzella
The holidays started off with a fabulous beginning, thanks to the Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus and their show, “Holiday Mix Tape,” presented at The First United Methodist Church. With the church, festively decorated and warmly lit, the audience was seated on comfy pew cushions, while an ethereal harpist strummed gently and set the mood for the evening.
Soon to follow the angelic and soothing harp, two engaging and somewhat naughty elves, Blinx and Twinkles, played by Alexander Quinonez and Richard Sims, came onto the scene. Their clear and energized comic patter soon had the audience rolling with laughter, as they discovered some of Santa's secret stash.
The chorus entered with a beautifully blended rendition of "Home," written by Charlies Smalls and arranged by David Maddox. The joyous blend became more confident as the balance of voices continued to unify.
Next up, the chorus did a complete one-eighty, with "Boogie Woogie Hanukkah." There were great stage theatrics combined with effective and smooth choreography in this upbeat rendition. It was obvious that this chorus is accustomed to providing first-rate entertainment, and they appeared to love every moment performing this fun number.
The chorus progressed to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." While well-known to most vocal groups, SGMC put their own twist on this familiar tune by including a bit of audience participation, mixed with clear falsetto and a gorgeous variation in dynamics, which showed how well this chorus can deliver a solid sound in a wide variety of dynamic levels and vocal gymnastics.
Several phenomenal soloists were featured in the number, "Opera Takes a Holiday," by Eric Lane Barnes. Santa, played by Lorenzo Ramsey, gave the audience goosebumps with his warm sound. Rudolph, portrayed by Andrew Gibout, provided energy and vocal clarity to the ensemble, while James Dahlen's Mrs. Claus was fabulously sung and full-on fun. The inebriated elf, Terry Randolph, was both perfectly portrayed and quite hilarious. Broadway-level performances all.
Some Frosty "madlibs" gave the audience yet another opportunity to partake in the festivities, and these were soon followed by a "12 Days of Christmas/Africa" medley. Counter melodies were well delivered, demonstrating the confidence and independent singing abilities of the group.
Closing out the first half, the audience was treated to the deep, resonant solo voice of Louis Ramirez, whose amazing, silken sound wowed the crowd. The final piece of this set, "Jubilant Gloria," had a slightly hesitant start, but the superior cuing skills of Director Steven Johnson quickly brought the group to its customary, solid sound. This tough-to-tune piece showed off the vocal flexibility of the chorus as they maneuvered through difficult tempo changes with grace.
Side B, or the second half of the show, began with a dramatic opening: a procession of singers entering from the aisles. Soon to follow was a rendition of "The Holly and the Ivy," featuring the beautiful and crystalline sounds of soloist Joe Engle. The smooth and dramatic "Oh Christmas Night" was highlighted by a stirring crescendo, while "The Prayer" offered a lovely and ideally blended duet superbly sung by Kay Alteri and Bay Howdy.
A bit of a cappella entered the scene with the spirited "Goin' to Bethlehem." The full chorus offered admirable tuning on this challenging song. Silky soloists Brian Rath and Paul Jones sailed notes through the next number, "Baba Yetu," but the real thrill of "Side B" was "How Could Anyone," sung in memory of Jean Hansen. It was evident in its delivery that the chorus has a deep connection to this song. Sighs could be heard throughout the pews as the chorus delivered top-notch, heartfelt singing.
The closing program number, "Sure on this Shining Night," reminded us all of the peace of the season with its soothing message. The audience lifted to its feet at the close of this superior holiday performance.
Reviewer Terrie Carrozzella is a professional marketer, designer, and blog author. She is the Musical Director of Sierra Gold Chorus, Auburn, CA, and has been a member of Sweet Adelines International for 22 years. She has sung in three award-winning choruses and several quartets. Terrie attended Shenandoah Conservatory of Music, where she studied music composition.