|Press Clippings and Media Coverage
Midwinter Revelry with Master Chorale
The Signal, March 2009
Up Close with the Masters
The Signal, September 2008
A Drive to Sing
Elite Magazine, April/May 2008
A Fine Midwinter Knight’s Tale
The Signal, January 2008
Santa Clarita Master Chorale Celebrates Two Gifts of the Season
Santa Clarita Magazine, October 2007
A Joyful Celebration for the Master Chorale
The Signal, September 2007
The Whole World in Their Hands
The Signal, June 2007
Master Chorale Takes "Elijah" by Storm
The Signal, April 2007
"Chariots of Fire" to Showcase Style, Substance, Genius
élite magazine santa clarita valley, April/May 2007
Midwinter Madrigal Feast Delights
The Signal, February 2007
SCV Master Chorale Sings in the Holidays
The Signal, January 2007
Master Chorale Lights Up the Holiday
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, January 2007
Master Chorale Singers Fete Founders
The Signal, October 2006
SC Master Chorale Celebrates the Spirit of America
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, July 2006
An Exceptional Performance by the SC Master Chorale
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, May 2006
Magical Madrigal Feast
The Signal, February 2006
Master Chorale Serenades Santa Clarita
The Signal, June 2005
SC Master Chorale's "Holiday Splendor" Fulfills Expectations
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, January 2005
SC Master Chorale Celebrates Five Years of Success!
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, July 2004
SC Master Chorale and SC Symphony Greet Spring With Beautiful Music
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, May 2004
Master Chorale Treats Us With "A Winter's Eve Celebration"
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, January 2004
Musical Youth: Program Exposes School Kids to Choral Works
Santa Clarita Valley Daily News, Monday, December 1, 2003
Master Chorale Entices With "A Little Night Music"
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, July 2003
"Spring Songs" Show Diversity and Flair
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, May 2003
SC Master Chorale Triumphs in "Spring"
The Signal, May 23, 2003
Master Chorale Opens 2002/2003 Season with "Let It Snow!"
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, February 2003
Chorale Sounds of the Season
The Signal, December 13, 2002
Master Chorale Finishes Season with a Magical Flourish
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, July 2002
Master Chorale Revisits movie classics at concert:
Season Finale of Santa Clarita Master Chorale
features music from Hollywoods' heyday
The Signal, June 28, 2002
Santa Clarita Master Chorale Members Sing at Highlands Elementary
The Signal, May 29, 2002
Master Chorale Raises the Roof with Mozart and Beethoven
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, April 2002
Master Chorale Embraces the Spirit of the Season
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, February 2002
Santa Clarita Master Chorale's Mozart and Friends" Concert Rated "Best-Ever"
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, August 2001
The Power and the Majesty of Mozart and Master Chorale:
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale ends season on a high note
with Concert featuring 'Mozart and Friends"
The Signal, Escape, July 6, 2001
Master Chorale Educates and Entertains: SC Master Chorale
adds pre-concert lecture to sounds of French composers
The Signal, Escape, April 20, 2001
Master Chorale Sets Tone for Holiday Season:
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is in the holiday spirit
with performances of ‘Gloria!’
The Signal, December 22, 2000
Master Chorale: More than worth it
The Signal, December 13, 2000
Melody Makers: The Santa Clarita Master Chorale,
45 members strong, loves to make beautiful music.
The Signal, November 24, 2000
Interns Join SC Master Chorale: Talented high school students
join Chorale in new intern program.
The Signal, November 3, 2000
Bach to Broadway is Season Swan Song
The Signal, June 23, 2000
'From Bach to Broadway' is Final SC Chorale Concert
of Impressive Season
The Signal, Friday, June 9, 2000
Master Chorale Raises Requiem to New Heights
The Magazine of Santa Clarita, May, 2000
Master Chorale Enchants Listeners with Holiday Concerts
The Santa Clarita Magazine, January, 2000
It’s all about soul food (excerpt)
The Signal, Monday, August 2, 1999
Chorale Debut Electrifying
The Santa Clarita Magazine, July, 1999
Chorale has Stellar Premiere
The Signal, June 11, 1999
Letters to the Editor
The Signal, March 30, 1999
My Audition with the Master Chorale
The Signal, March 24, 1999
The Signal, March 12, 2009
Midwinter revelry with Master Chorale
By Annemarie Donkin
It was an evening of royalty and revelry as nearly 200 knights, ladies and courtiers joined the Santa Clarita Master Chorale in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Valencia for the Fourth Annual Midwinter Madrigal Feast.
In addition to the regular concert performances throughout the year, the Madrigal Feast - an annual fundraiser - combines music, theater and a hearty repast. The benefit also included a silent auction and drawings for vacations to Hawaii and Costa del Sol.
"You receive so much for your donation," said Sherry Klahs, Master Chorale board chairwoman of the $100 per plate dinner. "You can choose to direct your dollars toward a cause you can believe in and not just an entertainment tab."
As guests poured into the ballroom, Leslie Garman, event chairwoman and Master Chorale member, was thrilled with the community response.
"With the current economy, we have had great support and our turnout was better than expected," she said.
Guests and courtiers
Sporting a traditional Scottish kilt, Mike Millar of the Santa Clarita Symphony and the Arts Advisory Committee, was a first time attendee with his wife, Dava. Millar said interest in the Madrigal Feast is high among Santa Clarita Valley arts organizations.
"There are lots of folks here from the Arts Advisory Committee," he said. "We have always loved the Master Chorale, it is one of the greatest institutions in the Santa Clarita Valley."
Resplendent in a snappy tux was TimBen Boydston of the Canyon Theatre Guild and his wife, Ingrid, who was as pretty as a princess in a purple ball gown and pink cape.
"This is a wonderful evening," TimBen Boydston said, who was emcee at last year's supper. "It is unique because it combines music, art, theater, food and lots of laughter. The arts supply laughter to nourish the soul, which is very much needed at this time."
This year, Phil Lantis, the arts and events administrator for the city of Santa Clarita, had the honor of playing the emcee.
"It's the best event in the SCV," he said. "It's a very important part of any arts organization to remind people of the great art they are doing."
McLean said she was thrilled that Santa Clarita continues to support the Master Chorale during the economic downturn.
"The city is O.K.," she said. "We have less money to spend, but we never spend more than we have. Even though sales and property taxes are down, we are in better shape than most cities."
Feasting and fun
Once inside the ballroom, the guests tucked into a fabulous feast of a fresh wedge salad with blue cheese, New York strip steak with a Cabernet reduction sauce and a flourless chocolate cake. The Loose Goose donated the many bottles of wine that flowed throughout the evening.
To begin the entertainment, Garman took to the stage and urged the guests to continue their ongoing support.
"The arts are such a vital part of human existence," she said. "Dig deep and bring a friend to the concerts."
Following Garman, Lantis encouraged the audience to consider how important the Chorale and all arts are to the community at large.
"They do such wonderful work, sometimes there is nothing more powerful than Chorale music sung very, very well," he said. "We need to support the Master Chorale. So spread the word and help the arts through these tough times, that is what this city is all about and known all over the world a great arts community."
Fools and kings
As the centerpiece of the evening the guests were entertained by a fantastical farce, "These Foolish Kings Remind Me of..." written by Ahna Brandvik and Paul Logan and directed by Chorale member Catherine Simpson.
The irreverent tale revealed that the Royal Kingdom is in disorder for it appears the Chorale's poor, luckless hero, Merton, Lord of Misrule (tenor Larry Wood) has been fired by the King and is looking for some way to make things right again. But he also plots to become King.
Meanwhile, a powerful sorceress named Morgan Wherechild (Catherine Simpson) magically appears and agrees to help him.
Complicating matters, the King's foolish Jester (a charmingly lisping Michael Simpson) also plots to become the King.
But of course, nothing ever goes according to plan and the ensuing misadventures created three acts of intrigue, mistaken identity and mayhem. There was even a point where the king was transformed into a giant chicken. As if things weren't bad enough, a dastardly plot in the third act involved the audience as well, as they pulled up poor Jim Hackett (husband of Chorale member Jill Hackett) to assist in a dastardly plan to kidnap the real King. Or was it?
As the Jester finally declares before all is revealed, "The Fool is King and the King is a Fool!" Naturally, neither the members of the Royal Court nor the Courtiers noticed the difference.
Chorale member Mike Andrews made his royal debut as the blustering King and Susie Woo, who was not above some serious "wooing" from the naughty Jester, played the Queen.
Others in the cast were Kelly Boardman as the Town Crier; Brad Thurlow played the Boar's Head Courtier; Adam Bouziane was Chuck Fowl; Chuck Spadaro and Debbie Wright were the bumbling Royal Guards, Chester and Hank; Jennifer Potter and Harry McNeil played Barley and Stout. The Royal Courtiers were Alex Nassief, Cara Kowalczyk, Elizabeth Jameson, Ronda Herrington, Randy Phillips and Steven Rivas. Making his Madrigal debut was Trevor Simpson as the Page.
Mary Rosebrock and Jennifer Potter created the colorful medieval-inspired costumes and Tom Brown of Angstrom Lighting designed the stage lighting.
Between acts, the Master Chorale's Artistic Director Allan Petker took the stage, "for the King's pleasure" and conducted the King's Singers in a series of charming carols and madrigals from the 14th to 16th centuries. The King's singers were Brad Thurlow, Cara Kowalczyk, Elizabeth Jameson, Jeanne Jordan Robinson, Legend Ackley, Jennifer Potter, John Fairbanks, Rebecca Hasquet, Steven Rivas and Susie Woo.
Gifts and gratuities
As guests entered the lobby, they were greeted by an amazing display of hors ‘d oeuvres amid dozens of silent auction baskets donated by SCV companies and individuals. Donors included Brent's Carpets, David Ewart, Dennis and Leslie Dreith, Egg Plantation, Fresh, Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center, Spa Prive, Manee House and Harvest Café.
As an additional "thank you" from the Chorale, the festivities included two vacation drawings to Hawaii and Spain. When the tickets were pulled, Mimi Hiller won the one-week in Hawaii in an ocean view condo in Kona, donated by Steve and Robin Erenberg of SCV Pools.
Long-time Chorale supporters Doug and Jean Strickland were thrilled to win the one-week trip to Costa del Sol in Spain donated by Larry Wood, CPA. They agreed that increased support of all arts organizations is vital to the community.
"Art is the basis of our culture," Jean Stockdale said. "Without the arts, children don't learn as well. Arts as a whole influence the core values of our civilization."
Santa Clarita Master Chorale
In order to fill the need for a first-class independent community chorus in the Santa Clarita Valley, founding directors Jill Hackett and Deb Baur established the Santa Clarita Master Chorale in 1998. The all-volunteer Chorale is an auditioned chorus whose members rehearse once time each week from September through May/June and perform three concerts per year in December, March and May/June. Allan Robert Petker became the Artistic Director in January 2004. Klahs said while some arts organizations rely solely on government grants and higher ticket prices, the Master Chorale's support comes in largest measure directly from individuals, primarily Santa Clarita Valley residents who want to share great choral music performed with expertise and elegance.
"It is that personal support that will be most crucial in these difficult times," Petker said.
Santa Clarita Master Chorale, PO Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380, (310) 254-8886.
For more concert information, www.scmasterchorale.org, call (661) 284-1866 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Signal, September 4, 2008
Up Close with the Masters
By Michele Buttelman
A Valencia neighborhood received an unexpected concert recently when a slimmed down version of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale treated an invited audience to a selection of chorale music that wafted from the backyard of Sherry and Don Klahs.
The "meet and greet" with Chorale conductor and artistic director Allan Petker, featured wine, hors d'oeuvres and beautiful music.
The annual "Meet the Conductor" event brought dozens of supporters and Master Chorale members together to hear plans for the Chorale's new season of three concerts, which kicks off in December.
The Chorale will begin its 10th year of performances with the season's final concert in June.
Petker is the Chorale's second artistic director, he replaced founding artistic director Peter Pocock in January, 2004.
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale was founded in 1998 by founding directors Jill Hackett and Deb Baur. Nearly 60 voices strong, the Chorale is holding auditions for new members on Saturday, Sept. 13. An intern program is also available for high school students under age 18.
Pianist Jan Sanborn is the current Chorale accompanist. She has performed as accompanist with the Roger Wagner Chorale and is a published composer/arranger. A CD of her music was distributed in a gift basket with a travel mug and cookies to event guests.
The Chorale rehearses once per week from September through June and performs three concerts per year in December, March, and June. The Chorale performs a wide repertoire including major classical masterworks and works by living composers to Christmas carols and Broadway music.
"We have such wonderful talent in this community," said Diane Trautman, attending her first "Meet the Conductor" event. "I'd love to see more of this group and others. I think the arts is something that everyone can enjoy."
Members of the Chorale shared experiences from a summer tour of Eastern Europe where they performed in a number of historic locations, including Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava, Slovakia.
"We sang in churches where the acoustics are remarkable," said Petker. "It was unbelievable... five to six seconds of reverberation... that sound, you can't replicate, it's a beautiful, beautiful sound."
The tour was the first by the Chorale.
"It was such a wonderful experience," said Sherry Klahs. "It was an exciting and beautiful experience."
Guests listened in rapt attention as the "mini Chorale" of little more than a dozen members sang a short program that included "Lux Aurumque" and several fun American choral pieces.
"I am going to start the program the same way we stared at every venue we sang (on the tour,)" said Petker. "The entire concert program was American composers and it was all acapella music. We started with ‘Hail Sacred Music Hail' - a piece by William Billings."
Billings is regarded as the father of American choral music.
Among those sharing experiences of the Eastern European tour was Chorale singer Tom Burkdall.
“When we were in Vienna, there was one chord near the end, that came together perfectly, and it kept resounding through this beautiful dome above us and it moved our director (Petker) to tears," Burkdall said. "We realized it had been a magically emotional moment."
The group also performed an energetic Hungarian number - "Daemon Irrepit Callidus" by Gyorgy Orban.
"The text is about how the devil, despite his sneaking around during praises and dances, is frustrated because he remains worth less than the heart of Jesus," said Petker.
As the outdoor concert concluded a faint smattering of applause could be heard from a nearby backyard. It brought forth laughter from the "Meet the Conductor" guests.
Petker said the experience of traveling and performing abroad was extremely moving and when he returned to the U.S. found a grateful e-mail from an American ex-patriot living in Trnava, Slovakia.
"Dear Mr Petker, thank you for what you do. Cultural exchange is so important in the world; it uplifts the spirit with hope, broadens and deepens our expectations, exemplifies world citizenship, overcomes lingering national prejudices, sheds light on assumptions formed in the absence of light, and above all redefines quality and expertise as global resources. The Slovaks of our generation in the audience in Trnava greatly appreciated witnessing first hand the best of choral culture from a part of the planet to which many of them were denied access in the past. They were moved. You are travelling with a talented ensemble of voices and all of us (including a couple of ex-patriot Americans) send them and you our gratitude ... Regards, Joseph Roy Sheppherd"
"When you speak to another country through music, you don't realize the impact you have," said Petker.
Elite Magazine, April/May 2008
A Drive to Sing
By Susan Chapman
It all began with two signers sharing a typical Los Angeles experience—a long commute. Jill Hackett and Deb Baur attended a concert in Pasadena in the spring of 1998, and their drive back to Santa Clarita inspired them to consider establishing a chorale closer to home.
“What Deb and Jill have done is unprecedented in the history of chorales,” says Allan Robert Petker, the chorale’s artistic director and conductor. “Ordinarily, chorales are formed by conductors. But here we have two singers, who did a tremendous amount of research to make sure that all of the elements were in place, founding a chorale that is truly excellent.”
Entering is 10th year, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale has grown into an acclaimed group of talented singers, led by Allan, who is also a sought-after composer, and accompanied by Jan Sanborn. Though not affiliated with a church, the group rehearses at Valencia United Methodist Church and performs a full concert season, September through June, at Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons. The group sings an array of choral arrangements, including sacred, ethnic and popular music. Its upcoming June 1 concert, “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” for instance, will feature the works of Handel and Beethoven as well as Broadway show tunes.
“It’s titled ‘Fasten Your Seatbelts,’” Allan says with a laugh, “because it’s so good, you’ll have to hold onto something.”
The chorale is audition-only, with singers, new and returning, vying for a place each September. During auditions, singers are required to perform an art song and demonstrate sight-reading skills. The group also offers opportunities for instructor-recommended college and high school students to join its ranks through its internship program.
“As a group, we are trying to provide an outlet for choral excellence and artistic expression, something that will be a voice for Santa Clarita,” Allan explains.
To that end, the chorale welcomes individuals from the community, who are not singers, to be part of its group and enhance the experience for the broader community. Volunteers often serve as concert and special-event staff and assist in publicity and fund-raising.
In the summer, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale will reach out to a new audience, partnering with the San Francisco Bay Area’s Consort Chorale, which Allan founded and also directs, and performing in Budapest, Prague and Vienna.
“I am thrilled about everything the Santa Clarita Master Chorale is doing,” Allan enthuses. “When you pursue excellence artistically, it takes you to a place that is way beyond yourself and way beyond what you can accomplish; that is very powerful.”
The Signal, January 31, 2008
A Fine Midwinter Knight’s Tale
By Annemarie Donkin
Twas a dark and stormy night when more than 100 intrepid music lovers ventured out to celebrate the 3rd annual Midwinter Madrigal Feast on Saturday to benefit the Santa Clarita Master Chorale. But the weather only added to the Olde English ambiance.
“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast,” penned playwright William Congreve in his 17th century play, “The Mourning Bride.”
Whether it be ample breast or savage ‘beast,’ both were soothed aplenty as the attendees gathered at the King’s Castle to ward off winter’s chill and bask in the warm glow of sumptuous food, wonderful wine and beautiful women.
Songs filled the air as guests arrived through the stone archway that transformed the Arena room of the Santa Clarita Activities Center into a Medieval castle. Once inside, everyone sampled tasty hors d’oeuvres and sipped wine as they perused tables laden with lovely gift baskets donated for the silent auction. Many of the attendees were members of the United Methodist Church, who are loyal supporters of the Chorale. The Master Chorale rehearses at the Valencia United Methodist Church on McBean Parkway.
The Play’s the Thing
But of course, there must be entertainment. Accompanied by guitarist Sam Besse, the Chorale’s Musical Director, Allen Robert Petker, lead Chorale members in period music including “Sing Ye All Tra-la,” “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People,” “Fair Phyliss I Saw,” and “All Hayle To the Dayes.”
The King’s singers were Legend Ackley, Linda Bonar, Liliana Castelblanco, John Fairbanks, Nancy Flores, Nancy Honaker, J.P. Jones, Jeanne Jordan, Cara Kowalczyk, Marybeth Margrave, Brad Thurlow, Susie Woo and Larry Wood. Their fair and pleasing voices lent a festive air to the evening.
City Councilman TimBen Boydston was the emcee for the evening and bid the guests to settle in for Act I of “Tale of a Tail,” a comic play by Jay Hugely.
This was the first year that TimBen and Ingrid Boydston were able to attend the Midwinter feast, as they are usually busy with the Canyon Theatre Guild.
“I am really impressed with the play and it is such a wonderful evening,” Ingrid Boydston said later. “This is really great, we are so glad we could make it and at every table we went to, we saw someone we knew.”
“This is fabulous, the music is fabulous, the food sublime and the company is magnificent,” TimBen said. “This (the Chorale) is such a beautiful art form...there is nothing like the magical sound of people raising their voices as the music makes its way to Heaven.”
When everyone finally settled into their chairs, the players presented Act I of the “Tale.”
The tender snippet of a play was pretty much Shakespeare meets “Saturday Night Live,” based on the predicament of a kingdom plagued by an evil dragon. To protect the Kingdom, the court’s jester and his not-so-jesting nobleman had to find a way to safeguard their land. Suddenly, the somewhat suspicious Fettucini brothers arrive with a plan to rid the land of the dragon, but it was really more of a means to sell the King “dragon insurance.”
Ironically, the only evidence was a dragon’s tail (conveniently tied to the back end of Linguine Fettucini)
But the only damage done were to the ears and sensibilities of the guests due to the plethora of painful puns that flowed as freely as the wine.
All in jest, of course.
For instance, after cutting off the dragon’s tale to save the Kingdom, Sir Prancelot declared “All I have is a holy wretched bit of tail.!”
“Who’s talking about my wife?” quipped the Town Crier. Ouch.
To make the merriment happen, the band of royal players included the drunken Town Crier (Michael Simpson); The Court Jester, (an hilarious J.P. Jones); Meltonia, the Mistress of Misrule (the buxom Catherine Simpson); the totally bored King (jolly Chuck Spadaro); his Queen (the adorable Susie Woo); Sir Treachery (Brad Thurlow, boo, hiss); the plotting Fettucini brothers, Alfredo (a deceptive Mike Andrews) and Linguine (a slithery Larry Wood); the overworked ‘Execousntutomassecutoner’ who is always trying to ‘get ahead,’ ahem (a droll Steve Krogh); the gallant and light on his feet, Sir Prancelot (the noble John Fortman) the lovely Eugenia (the always lusty Collete George) and finally the fiery Fiona (a lovely Nancy Flores).
The simpering courtiers were played by Liliana Castelblanco, John Fairbanks and Cara Kowalczyk. The costumes were designed by Mary Rosebrock and sewn by Jeanne Jordan. Christine Enns (the Choir director at Valencia High School) did the sound.
Between the two Acts of the play, Chorale member Sheri Klahs said a few words about the evening.
“Thank you all for coming; this was a truly profitable fundraiser, especially since Macaroni Grill was our dinner sponsor and donated the food,” she said. “A big part of what we do is to let the community know they have a professional, high-quality international program right here in the SCV. As this event continues to catch on, next year we will need a bigger room!”
Klahs said they will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Master Chorale in June.
Attendee Steve Hart said he was really enjoying his first Midwinter Madrigal Feast, who attended with his mother-in-law Francis Land.
Hart joined the Chorale last year after singing with the College of the Canyons Choir for 10 years. He said his wife, Gail, teaches at Hart High School.
“This is a great opportunity to be a Chorale member and such a wonderful experience,” Hart said. “They are such nice people and really allows us to raise our voices to new levels because (Musical Director) Allan Robert Petker raises the standards so high.”
Fyne Food and Drink
For dinner, the guests sat at tables laden with a 16th-century baronial dinner fit for a king. Dinner Sponsor Kevin Black of Romano’s Macaroni Grill provided the provender for the royal feast with a delightful fare of grilled salmon, chicken piccata with lemon butter sauce, rice pilaf, vegetables and a delectable lemon cake with caramel sauce. Wine Sponsor Peter Goosens of Loose Goose provided the fine wines and Steve Erenberg of SCV Pools was the Knight Table Sponsor.
Raffle and Silent Auction
After the play, Erica Camara pulled the ticket for the big raffle prize and revealed that Steve and Debra Mann had won the one-week trip to Kona donated by SCV Pools. After the raffle, Klahs thanked some of those who had volunteered to pull the event together.
“I want to thank Jay Hugely for writing the play, Collete George, who did a yeoman’s job of silent auction and Deb Bauer, who as usual did anything and anything that needed to be done,” Klahs said. “And I want to thank Leslie Garman for putting the whole thing together. We can now release her from the terror of the event and her duties.”
Garman, the event chairperson, said in spite of the gargantuan effort, she actually had a wonderful time.
“We are seeing new faces this year, we had more tickets sold and we made more money,” she said.
Madrigal attendees Dennis and Leslie Anne Dreith were guests of Violinist Dave Ewart.
“It is a really nice move up for a smaller, local charity,” Dennis Dreith said. “We are hoping the community will continue to support the event with even more vim and vigor.”
Sponsors and Donors
As always, the Midwinter Madrigal Feast attracted a wide variety of fine gift baskets to benefit the Chorale. Many top companies, organizations, individuals and local businesses donated gift baskets and bought sponsorships for the fundraiser. They included the Canyon Theatre Guild, Repertory East Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Pro Golf of Valencia, Robinson Ranch, Valencia Country Club, Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Southwest Chamber Music, “The Tonight Show;” Vargo Physical Therapy, Walt Disney Company, Warner Home Video, Warner Music Group; Vine’s Restaurant at the Hyatt Valencia; Claim Jumper, Cookbooks Plus, Fox Music Studio, Glen Ivy Hot Springs; Hollywood Bowl, LA Center Studios, MedSpa, Michele’s Beauty Escapade and the Pacific Chorale.
Individual donors included Deb Baur, Dave Berg, Linda Bonar, Pete and Kim Brosnan, Jane and Gary Brooks, Lana Clancey, David Ewart, Clare Macauly, DDS; Sue Emerson, Collette George, Jill Hackett, Janet Hedke, Ronda Herrington, Frank Kraus, Patti Lerman, Marybeth Margrove, Mary Purdy, Michael Millar, Randy Phillips, Sandra Smith, Marina Tellis, Penny Wallace and Debbie Wolpert.
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is dedicated to fostering and stimulating interest in fine choral music in the Santa Clarita Valley and Southern California through an annual concert series of outstanding quality. For their spring concert, the Chorale will perform “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace,” by Karl Jenkins in honor and memory of our war veterans.
On June 1, the Chorale will celebrate their 10th anniversary with a rich and varied program of light classical music, “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” to jump start your summer. Both concerts will be held at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
For ticket information, visit the Chorale’s Web site at www.scmasterchorale.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (661)284-8886. Santa Clarita Master Chorale, P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459.
Santa Clarita Magazine, October 2007
Santa Clarita Master Chorale Celebrates Two Gifts of the Season
By Kimberly Ayers
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale begins its season with two gifts – first, a two-season grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and next month, an evening of diverse musical offerings from Friends of the Chorale.
The two-stage grant -- $12,750 for 2007/2008 and an additional $12,750 for the following year – continues the tradition of funding from the Arts Commission, which has provided financial support for the Chorale’s programming since 2000.
“We are grateful for the Commission’s continued recognition of our efforts,” said Sherry Klahs, the Chorale’s chair. “These funds will allow us to continue offering our concerts at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center.”
“It’s an ongoing testament to the enthusiasm for great music,” said artistic director Allan Petker.
Another gift is in store for the evening of Saturday, October 13th, when friends of the Chorale gather for a benefit concert and reception:
Fresh off a well-received run in The Pirates of Penzance with Musical Theatre West, tenor Kristopher McNeeley will be performing, along with his wife, Ali Spuck, an actress and mezzo soprano. Those who’d heard tenor J.P Jones’ solo performance with the Chorale last season will be glad to see him on the program. He was on stage last year with the Los Angeles Opera Chorus for Porgy and Bess.
Master Chorale artistic director Allan Petker will pick up his fiddles again this year to play with pianist Jan Sanborn. Also, the Chorale is pleased to announce that Sanborn has accepted the post of Chorale accompanist. Jan is a composer and arranger who also served as accompanist for the Roger Wagner Chorale and the Los Angeles Chamber Singers.
Director of Vocal Studies and Opera at The Master’s College and mezzo soprano Kimberlyn Jones is part of the Valley’s gifted musical community who will appear. Dashing baritone Kelby Thwaite returns to the Friends concert, and Viki Hilferty joins the benefit this year. The Los Angeles Times has called the lyric soprano “a delight.” You might find contributing artist Steven Applegate directing musicals or playing at the piano and organ at Valencia’s United Methodist Church. Applegate even did an early turn as musical director for the San Francisco production of the Rocky Horror Show.
September, 2007 (The Signal)
A Joyful Celebration for the Master Chorale
by Annemarie Donkin
In the grand tradition of European musical salons friends, donors of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale gathered at Don and Sherry Klahs' beautiful home in Valencia Wednesday for the annual "Meet the Conductor" event to celebrate the successful season past and promote the upcoming 2007-2008 season beginning this Dec. 2.
Sherry Klahs, a Chorale member and chairman of the board of directors, puts together these intimate musical events throughout the year for Chorale supporters. And, what a wonderful conductor to meet. The delightful and witty Allan Robert Petker is a conductor, composer, music educator and music educator.
He has been the artistic director of the SC Master Chorale since 2004.
As guests arrived, they sipped chardonnay and enjoyed an outstanding selection of gourmet hors d' oeuvres prepared by Chorale members and L.A. Catering, who provided the Southwest wraps and a party favorite, sweet and sour meatballs. While about 40 guests congregated at candlelit tables around the pool, Petker began the evening by introducing the vintages he selected to compliment each song, "to fill us with the Holy Spirit," he said.
Food, Wine and Song
To start the evening, Master Chorale members J.P. Jones, Wally Purdy, Mike Andrews, Nancy Honaker, Alex Nassief, Jill Hackett and Deb Baur gathered around the pool and while Petker conducted the first of four songs, "Fill Me Up," with Mike Anderson on percussion drums.
They followed with the "Hosanna" from the "Mass for Two Worlds" by Ariel Quintana, which they performed in its entirety at the their spring "Songs Without Borders," concert. Petker paired the music with a light and refreshing Pope Valley Sauvignon Blanc,
John Fortman, of Fortman Insurance Agents and Brokers and a member of the Chorale commented that the wine was very light, refreshing and nearly carbonated.
Petker then led the group in "The Circle," with music by poet Edwin Markham and words by Allan Petker. For this one the conductor chose a gorgeous light and astringent Markham sauvignon blanc, with qualities of grapefruit, very light, astringent and a good compliment to the spicy Southwest wraps.
Appropriate to the warm evening, then they sang "Moon River" (by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer). For this pairing, Petker chose an Old Moon zinfandel or blueberry juice for the teetotalers. Now, in any grand tradition of wine pairing, there can only be so many courses, so guests didn't overdo.
So, for the final musical offering, Petker and the Chorale sang "Amen" combined with an outstanding port zinfandel (slightly sweet, rich and fruity with notes of plum and blackberry) Fortman described it as having dark plummy notes, port is also sweet. It was a perfect way to end the evening, especially when they passed out cake brownies and exquisite meringue cookies both made by Chorale member Jeanne Jordan.
"It's a great little event, Fortman said. "I would like to see more people make donations though." Fortman has been with the Chorale since 1999 and played "Machismo" in last year's hilarious Madrigal Feast at the Sports Center.
After the music and desserts, Sherry Klahs and Petker made some timely announcements. Klahs said they plan another pre-season Oct. 13 event at the United Methodist Church for the Friends of the Master Chorale. The official season opener will be their popular Christmas concert Dec. 2 at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.
"I encourage everyone to come to the Christmas Concert, it will blow you away," Petker said. "The concert always starts with traditional holiday music and in the second half, they sing fun and the playful side of the Chorale. "Come to our Christmas concert where you will be blown away by the some of our excellent with a full orchestra. We start with more traditional holiday music and the second half shows off our more playful side."
Petker was especially enthusiastic about their March production of "The Armed Man," based on a 15th century poem. In addition to the Chorale, the piece will be expanded with choirs from local schools, Including Valencia High School, Saugus High School, Canyon High School and College of the Canyons.
"It is a mass for peace, it has great strength, which is what we need to bring about peace," Petker said. "With nearly 300 voices combined and a full orchestra, it should be a spectacular event."
The Master Chorale will welcome some new members this year. Long-time piano accompanist Ann Moore is leaving to spend more time with her family, (no, really) and long-time Chorale supporter Jan Sanborn is coming on as the official accompanist. One of the Chorale's board members, pianist Jan Sanborn also conducts master classes at California State University, Northridge and said the Chorale works at many levels in the community - to bring high quality music to the audience, a musical outlet for local residents and a training ground for young singers.
"The Chorale provides internships to students at CSUN," Sanborn said. "They just love it."
Petker said Dr. Kimberlyn Jones of the Opera Department of The Master's College is also joining the Chorale for the upcoming season.
Chorale intern J.P. Jones officially joined the Chorale for its new season. He studies music at CSUN and sang and extraordinary version of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" at their spring concert. Jones also recently appeared in the L.A. Opera's "Porgy and Bess."
Comprised almost exclusively of Santa Clarita Valley residents, the 45-member Chorale ranges from amateur to professional. "Everyone has to read music to acquire a spot," Petker said. "This is not a place for beginners." In addition to their three annual performances, the mission of The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is to educate the public about the importance of chorale music as an art form. Their "Keep America Singing" program provides fifth-graders at local schools to learn and experience through classroom instruction and live demonstrations. Additionally, the Chorale works at many levels in the community - to bring high quality music to the audience, a musical outlet for local residents and a training ground for young singers. The Chorale also provides internships to students at California State University, Northridge.
Among the many guests, Murray Siegel, a member of the Arts Advisory Committee and immediate past president of Carousel Ranch, attended the Chorale's salon with his wife, Mary. It was the first time attending and they had nothing but praise for the level of talent displayed among the members. "It is so amazing to sit here and listen to these wonderful people," Murray Siegel said. "I love this event. It is an opportunity to come and see so many hidden talents, among the people in our community, the same people you work with all year long- who knew they had such talent. It is astonishing to hear such wonderful voices."
Another "Friends of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale," fund-raising concert will be held Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Valencia United Methodist Church, 25718 McBean Parkway, Valencia. Tickets are $25. Santa Clarita Master Chorale, P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459; (661) 254-8886, www.scmasterchorale.org.
June 29, 2007 (The Signal)
The Whole World in Their Hands
by Annemarie Donkin
With a magnificent program of beautiful and inspirational music from around the world, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale concluded its season with some outstanding performances for their "Songs Without Borders."
The concert at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons June 3 was truly eclectic, presenting a wide variety of songs ranging from Africa, Israel, Europe, the United States, Broadway to an outstanding "Mass for Two Worlds" by a brilliant young composer from Argentina. Anyone who attended the concert heard one of the most innovative and interesting concerts presented yet by the Chorale.
Artistic Director Allan Robert Petker once again delved deeply into the divine to compile a group of seemingly unrelated processionals, songs and spirituals to create a unified whole to support the theme of world-wide unity and peace.
"Songs Without Borders" started appropriately with a joyous percussive processional, "Jambo rafiki yangu" by David Montoya, sung in Swahili as the Chorale members entered from stage right. Baritone Mike Andrews lead the group on drums with piano, guitar and percussion accompaniment. They followed the interesting opening with "Hiney Mah Tov" by Iris Levine. The Hebrew folk tune is based on the Psalm 133:1 ("Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live in unity). Next, two small groups sang "Bogoroditse Djévo (Mother of God and Virgin) by Estonian composer Arvo Prt (often associated with the school of mystic minimalism) and Nie Bede Plakala (I Will Not Cry) by Polish composer Juliusz Luciuk. The delightful piece describes the joys and tricks at a Polish wedding. They followed these moving pieces with the uplifting "Ise Oluwa," a Nigerian praise song by American composer Ron Kean. Once again, the Chorale singers split into small groups accompanied by layers of percussion to create as the singers create a chorded harmony and the instruments creating rhythmic independence.
Following the Nigerian chant, we moved to Scotland with the plaintive and traditional "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose," by Robert Burns.
What was most compelling were most of the chorale works chosen were written by young composers, lending the concert a greater sense of urgency for its theme of peace and unity throughout the world. Highlighting the introspective program was the outstanding "Mass for Two Worlds" by Ariel Quintana. Quintana began playing piano at age 3 and was accompanying his kindergarten classmates on piano when he was 5.
The Mass starts with a gentle and melodic Kyrie (which Quintana originally wrote as a solo piece) and was followed by a gorgeous, rich and full Gloria and Credo. The Mass was highlighted by solos by sopranos Jeanne Jordan and Debbie Wolpert and alto Alex Nassief. Soprano Jill Hackett soloed on Credo and alto Marybeth Margrave sang the Benedictus just beautifully. By the time the entire Chorale stood up and sang in full at the end of Sanctus "Osanna in Excelsis" (Hosanna in the highest) the entire PAC virtually swelled in exhalation. Followed by a gorgeous Agnus Dei, the Mass was a triumph. After intermission, the Chorale assembled for a fun medley of Broadway tunes by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Highlights included solos on "Memory" (from "Cats") by alto Penny Wallace and "Light at the End of the Tunnel ("Starlight Express") by baritone Mike Andrews. Alto Linda Bonar and tenor Steve Krogh sang "Unexpected Song" (from "Song and Dance") and soprano Christine Enns broke our hearts with "Think of Me" (from "The Phantom of the Opera").
One of the most outstanding and heartbreaking performances that brought a tear to more than one eye was when the young tenor, John Paul Jones, came downstage to sing the heartbreaking spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child." There was not a dry eye in the house after Jones, who studies voice at California State University, Northridge, hit the last perfect note. The Chorale followed with "A Native American Prayer" by 39-year-old composer Nolan E. Schmit.
Another highlight of the concert was Pianist Ann Moore's glimmering and ethereal performance of Arabesque No. 1 by Claude Debussy.
The talented and tireless accompanist for the Chorale finally had a chance to shine and she was magnificent. She dedicated the piece to her parents (who were in the audience) because, as she said, they put up with her years of practice at home. "I even sent them practice tapes after I went away to college," she laughed. Moore said among his pieces, this Arabesque ("as delicate as a spyder's web") is her favorite.
The concert continued with a robust medley from "Fiddler on the Roof" arranged by Ed Lojeski and narrated by John Fortman. Alto Janet Hedke sang a spirited "Matchmaker" and mezzo-soprano Cara Kowalczyk and baritone Wally Purdy sang a sobering "Sunrise, Sunset."
The program ended on a tear as the entire Chorale gathered again for "Danny Boy" arranged by Mark Hayes.
Once again, the Master Chorale provided the audience with a provocative, interesting, melodic and memorable program for a lovely Sunday afternoon. Adding to the experience is their wonderful program, with full translations of the text, composer Bios and a wealth of information. Just reading the program is like taking a Music 100 class and worth every minute. So, come and listen and learn when the SCV Master Chorale starts again in the fall with their wonderful holiday programs and lovely Madrigal Feast. It is well worth the wait!
Santa Clarita Master Chorale, P. O. Box 800459 Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459 (661) 645-4472.
April 27, 2007 (The Signal)
Master Chorale Takes "Elijah" by Storm
by Annemarie Donkin
The Master Chorale triumphed with a spectacular "Elijah," by Felix Mendelssohn during the group's spring concert at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center. "Elijah" is a massive 3 1/2 hour religious oratorio scored for four vocal soloists, a symphony orchestra and a large chorus. The performance, under the direction of Allan Robert Petker - the Chorale's artistic director - proved to be a real tour de force.
From the balcony one could actually feel the power of all 50 voices rising up - sending chills up my spine.
"Elijah" draws upon books of the Old Testament, primarily from I Kings and Psalms, and tells the tale of a struggle among the prophet Elijah, Ahab, a King of Israel and the seductress Queen Jezebel during a horrible drought.
Elijah spurns Jezebel's gods during a brutal showdown and predicts doom. In response to Elijah's actions and utterances, Jezebel retaliates by hunting him down, bent on his destruction. Defeated, desperate and wishing to die, Elijah flees into the wilderness, where he sings the aria "It is Enough." But God vindicates Elijah's faith, strength and resolve with a massive storm, dust, wind, fire and lighting to answer their prayers and break the drought. The people are terrified and think it is God's punishment. But in the end, after a massive crescendo, the music becomes very quiet, declaring God speaking in a "still, small voice." The angels then sing God's praises while a chariot of fire appears to sweep Elijah up into a whirlwind to heaven.
It was a stunning performance by the Chorale, the orchestra and the four outstanding soloists. The role of Elijah was sung by bass-baritone Bradley Ellingboe. A guest soloist who performs throughout the United States and around the world, he appeared in the Chorale's "Messiah" in March, 2005. Tenor soloist Steve Amerson joined the Chorale for his third appearance. Called "America's Tenor" - Amerson was one of three singers chosen to record tapes used by Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras in preparation for their performances of "The 3 Tenors."
A frequent soloist for the Chorale, Caroline McKenzie sang the soprano role beautifully. Trained as a a pianist, she studied voice at Princeton and made her operatic debut in 1989 playing Anna in Verdi's "Nabucco" in New York.
Playing both the Angel and the evil Queen Jezebel, the elegant mezzo-soprano Tracy Van Fleet sang with the Chorale for the first time. She has been a concert and operatic soloist for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Music Center Opera, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Bach Festival. Van Fleet was outstanding as the gentle Angel and then, throwing on a blood red shawl, transformed herself into the evil and terrifying Queen.
With the clear high voice of a Cherub, the most delightful soloist was 9-year-old Richard Rivale, who sang the role of the "Youth," who spots the tiny cloud over the water, heralding the storm that ends the drought.
Already a singer, pianist and composer, Rivale is a frequent soloist at the Crystal Cathedral (and the only one who had his part memorized). Throughout the performance, there were gorgeous solo ensembles, as when Chorale members Jill Hackett, J.P. Jones, Mary Purdy and Wally Purdy sang the recitative about the drought-plagued land: "The deep affords no water, and the rivers are exhausted..." (I Kings 17:7, Lamentations 4:4). Later, John Fairbanks, Leslie Garman, Mimi Hiller, Nancy Honaker, Cara Kowalczyk, Wally Purdy, Brad Thurlow and Larry Wood sang the lamentable double quartet and recitative of Angels, "For He shall give his angels to watch over thee..." (Proverbs 3:2, 3, Psalm 91:11, 12) Then, Mike Andrews, Jill Hackett, J.P. Jones and Catherine Simpson sang the Angel quartet, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. He will never suffer the righteous to fall." (Psalms 55:22).
Later, Deb Baur, Linda Bonar, Nancy Flores, Jeanne Jordan, Marybeth Margrave, Mary Purdy, Penny Wallace, Debbie Wolpert and Susie Woo came down stage to sing the beautiful "Trio of Angels."
Christine Enns, Christine Hedke, Sherry Klahs and Alexandra Nassief sang praises to Heaven with the glorious angelic choir "Holy, holy, holy is God the Lord..." (Isaiah, 6:3,2) After the concert, Petker looked triumphant, but spent. It was, after all, a nearly four hour ordeal. But the reaction from the audience was overwhelming.
Petker said he always wants to give the Chorale a challenging piece to sink their teeth into at least once a year.
"We have wanted to perform this piece for a long time," Petker said. "Our co-founder, Jill Hacker, suggested we sing it several years ago and we felt now was the right time. We knew we would lose some of the audience, but we will get them back for the (next) concert."
Petker was excited about the upcoming program June 3 at the PAC. He said "Songs Without Borders" will be a celebration of triumph in a celebration of music, the universal language. The Chorale will sing international folksongs, excerpts of Broadway musicals and a medley from "Fiddler on the Roof." Yet for those who attended "Elijah," they were richly rewarded, for the heavens opened up and the Chorale's voices rose up to be heard.
Santa Clarita Master Chorale presents "Songs Without Borders" June 3, at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center, featuring Ariel Quintana's "Mass for Two Worlds," excerpts from Broadway musicals and a medley from "Fiddler on the Roof." Tickets range from $14 to $26 and may be purchased by calling (661) 254-8886 or by mail at P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita 91380-0459. Order forms can be obtained at www.scmasterchorale.org. The COC Performing Arts Center is located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia.
April/May 2007 (élite magazine santa clarita valley)
Chariots of Fire" to Showcase Style, Substance and Genius
by Elliot Peterman
When the torrential music of Felix Mendelssohn's "Elijah" comes storming into the Santa Clarita Valley this March, it will be on the energetic shoulders of artistic director Allan Robert Petker and the passionate talents of Santa Clarita's own Master Chorale. There is nothing of the stodgy, classical stereotype in Mendelssohn's masterwork nor in Petker's conducting style. Sit in on one of his rehearsals, and his infectious enthusiasm for Elijah is immediately apparent.
"It's a tremendously dramatic story of clashing prophets and kings, despair and elation," he says. Indeed, Mendelssohn's musical treatment of this story rightfully ranks Elijah among the greatest oratorios ever written, second only in audience popularity to Handel's "Messiah." The composer drew from the popular Italian opera style, expertly assigning the chorale, solos, duets, and ensembles The interweaving of narrative, pleading, melancholy, and drama takes the listener on a whirlwind musical journey worthy of this Old Testament story. Mendelssohn, often regarded as the greatest musical child prodigy after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, began composing at age 6, first performed in public at age 9, and by his teens had already composed numerous symphonies, cantatas, piano and string quartets.
Petker recalls playing viola for Elijah many years ago and being instantly impressed with the oratorio's energy and style. His conducting of the work now is just one facet of his eclectic professional life. "I describe myself as a self-employed musician. Mainly, I do conducting -- two chorales and a church choir. As a composer, I compose primarily on commission, mostly for churches, community choirs and schools. I do five commissions per year, and I'm booked for the next three years. I publish choral music and textbooks through Pavane Publishing, a company I started some time ago. We publish about 20 works a year."
Petker himself has more than 250 published works to his credit, including multi-movement choral works with orchestra. Allan's five-volume "Choral Questions and Answers" has become a staple teaching text for many school and community choirs. His passion for curing musical illiteracy culminated in the publication of his ADVANCE learning series. Concert-goers will get the chance to see all of those talents come together on the stage of the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at College of the Canyons on Sunday, March 18th at 3:30 p.m. when the Master Chorale presents Elijah.
Petker's delight with these singers is obvious. "A chorale like this is a community treasure and a big part of what makes living in Santa Clarita such a great experience. The singers are wonderful people who share the same musical values I do. They work extremely hard to make good music, and they're passionate about it. It is simply lovely having a group that's so committed! Another thing that's fabulous is that we have a lot of young people in the group, many are college-aged - we even have a high school intern program."
Of performing at the PAC Allan says, "It looks so professional, and performing in such a high-quality venue brings out the best in our singers. Bravo to the City and College of the Canyons for putting up the funds so we could have a formal concert hall in Santa Clarita."
Petker's music-making has taken him "across the pond" to Europe on several occasions over the past three decades. He was the American guest conductor/composer for the Cathedral Choir Tour in England, where he shared the podium with British composers Andrew Carter and John Rutter. He was invited back to England in 2003 as the featured guest conductor and clinician for the National Association of Choirs annual conference in Winchester. They even asked "the Yankee" to conduct "God Save the Queen."
Back here in the Valley, Santa Claritans are demonstrating an ever-increasing admiration for fine choral music, a fact not lost on Petker. He makes no secret that he loves "the way they support this Chorale. The fact that we can sell out 900 seats of a Christmas concert is great!" And he's also looking forward to the Chorale's next musical offering.
"This June we will present 'Songs Without Borders.'" The centerpiece of the concert will be Mass for Two Worlds, composed by Ariel Quintana, music director at Hollywood Presbyterian and the newly-appointed Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. We have repertoire planned for the next three years - including a tour to Prague and Budapest slated for 2008. In March 2009 we will do Orff's Carmina Burana, and in 2010 Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, plus a Schubert mass."
As if he wasn't busy enough, Allan also is Minister of Music at the First Presbyterian Church, San Pedro. He just completed his thirteenth season with Consort Chorale, an ensemble of 40 select voices in the San Francisco Bay Area and is in his fourth season with the 55-voice auditioned Santa Clarita Master Chorale.
A favorite pastime of Allan's is camping, although he hardly has time for it any more. He also collects wines, belonging to several wine clubs, and loves traveling Europewhen time and work allow. And Petker never picked up a string instrument he didn't like: you can find him "sitting in" at the local pub in San Pedro, or tuning up after dinner with friends -- a violin, viola, mandolin or guitar - doesn't matter, he loves them all.
Ask him what his favorite job is and Allan Petker will answer: "whatever I'm doing at that very moment." So on Sunday, March 18th in the middle of a fine late winter afternoon, you can be sure it'll be Santa Clarita's own Master Chorale, and the epic story of Mendelssohn's Elijah.
Tickets are available by mail or phone, and an early sellout is expected. An order form with mailing information is available at www.scmasterchorale.org, or you may call (661) 254-8886.
February 6, 2007 (The Signal)
Midwinter Madrigal Feast Delights
by Annemarie Donkin
It was a wonderful way to spend a rainy Saturday evening, with joyful dancing, singing, music and feasting with the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, highlighted by a feisty farce about love. Led by Musical Director Allan Robert Petker, the Chorale performed a mini concert of carols and madrigals to a group of more than 90 loyal supporters and subscribers for the second annual Midwinter Madrigal Feast held Jan. 27 at the Santa Clarita Activities Center.
The Arena Room was festooned with royal banners and colorful pageantry, thus transforming it into the King's Royal Castle for a feast and bit of merriment in which two court jesters competed to see who could make the jovial the King laugh first. Naturally, the King couldn't have been more "bored," but the rest of Court was delighted.
As always, event chairwoman Sherri Klahs went above and beyond to make this the best Madrigal Feast yet. She was helped by long-time Chorale volunteer, Lana Clancy.
"I have been with the Chorale since the inception, my husband (Peter) used to be a member," Clancy said. "It is a fun show, they did a great job and it is bigger than last year."
The centerpiece of the evening was an hilarious fractured Shakespearean-esqe farce, "Labored Love Lost," written and directed by Jay Huguely and performed by members of the Chorale. The "goodly" players were called upon to entertain the King (Chuck Spadero), his Queen (Susie Woo) and their Courtiers (Legend Ackley, Linda Bonar, John Fairbanks, Sean Goodman, Cara Kowalczyk and Alex Nassief)
The Town Crier (Erica Camara) cheerfully tried to make sense of the whole affair as she introduced the court jesters, Perrier (Mike Andrews) and Castillia (Marie Gilbert). The "plot" concerned the dismal romantic affairs of Duke Luis, (Michael Simpson) who can't pronounce his "L"s. Meanwhile, the lovely and weepy Nofelia (Jill Hackett) who can't pronounce her "W"s, pines for a mate.
Her friends, a trio of the unpleasant including Crabia (Collette George), the irritable Hornia (Leslie Garman) and the "over-the-top" Buxomia (Catherine Simpson) fight over the available men; Nerdio (Larry Wood), the lustful Machismo (John Fortman) and the boastful Oregano (Steve Krough). After all the complicated machinations, mostly involving love potions, all's well that ends well and everyone fell in love with the one they deserved.
The play was accompanied by instrumentalists Jerry Danielsen on guitar, Nancy Flores on percussion, Nancy Honaker on recorder and Marybeth Margrave on flute and Petker on viola.
At the end of the evening, amid confetti and noisemakers, Marcia Tannehill of Valencia won the big raffle prize, a seven-day cruise for two on Holland America Line. Her husband, Steve, works at Countrywide in Calabasas and sits on the Newhall School Board.
"We came because of Laura Hall," Tannehill said. "The evening was fabulous, the music, food, it was fun!"
Tannehill works with Hall at Home Decor, a private interior design firm. They just finished a one-year remodel of Don and Sherry Klahs' home.
"This is wonderful, she deserves the cruise," Hall said. "She works long and hard making sure all the 'I''s are dotted the 'T's are crossed." The Tannehills and Halls plan to take the trip together, but they don't know when any of them will get the time off.
Enjoying the feast were Doug and Jean Stockdale, who traveled up from Orange County to be with their friends, Bob and Donna Bennett, Dan and Jeanette McGreevy and Bruce and Jane Solomon, all from Valencia.
"This is awesome," Doug Stockdale said. "The Master Chorale always puts on an excellent evening."
The guests feasted upon delectable fare, all of it fit for a king and presented by RSVP Catering.
The repast began with tiny mincemeat pies and walnut and cheese stuffed cucumbers. The entreé was leaf herb, nut and dried fruit salad, savory pork loin with prunes and apples, chicken Wellington, herbed Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables with rosemary and rustic breads. For dessert, a sublime roasted pear and almond trifle. It goes without saying the food was best paired with generous quaffs of wine - to toast the players, of course!
A silent auction to benefit the non-profit Chorale included baskets from Chorale supporters Deb Baur, Sue Emerson, Collette George, Lisa Heath, Christine Hedke, Jeanne Jordan, Don and Sherry Klahs, Betsy Lessard, Clare Macaulay, DDS, Marybeth Margrave, Sure Purviance and Sandra Smith. Other goodies included a day at Glen-Ivy Day Spa and a foursome of golf at Valencia Country Club. The Spectrum Club donated a three-month membership and Jordan donated a beautiful necklace.
Pete and Kim Brosnan donated a behind the scenes tour of Los Angeles Center Studios and Mimi Hiller of Cookbooks Plus donated a treasure trove of kitchen supplies including four cookbooks. The Hollywood Bowl, along with George, Hiller, Mary Purdy, Sherry Klahs and Purviance, donated a "Merry Night Out and About at the Hollywood Bowl." There was also a romantic "Valentine's Fancy" basket, including VIP tickets to an upcoming Guild production, dinner at El Trocadero and a 1 lb. box of See's Candies.
Other baskets filled with delights were donated by Valencia United Methodist Church; Michele of Michele's Beauty Escapade; Linda Freyre of Innovations Salon and Spa; Six Flags Magic Mountain; Kids Art; Pasadena Playhouse; Warner Music Group; Frank Kraus of Warner Home Video; Dave Berg of the Tonight Show; The Pasadena Playhouse; Pasadena Symphony Association; Angeles Chorale; Pacific Chorale and Agua Dulce Vineyards.
Guests proclaimed that overall, it was an outstanding night of fun, music, merriment and outstanding fare.
January 19, 2007 (The Signal)
SCV Master Chorale Sings in the Holidays
by Annemarie Donkin
With a medley of favorite Carols, an hilarious "Twelve Days of Christmas" sung to different tunes and a gorgeous and reverent "Magnificat," the Santa Clarita Master Chorale launched its eighth season with its "Holiday Lights" concert at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center.
It was an outstanding performance and a wonderful way to officially ring in the holiday season! The enthusiastic crowd blew in from a cold and blustery day into the not much warmer auditorium. But while the packed audience shivered through the concert, the Chorale warmed them up with the lovely "Sing Gloria," by Allan Robert Petker, the Chorale's conductor and Artistic Director. They were accompanied by the superb pianist, Ann Moore and a wonderful chamber orchestra. The next piece was the shimmering and beautiful "O Lux" by Audrey Snyder and the fervent and melodic plea for world peace, "Light One Candle," by Peter Yarrow of "Peter, Paul and Mary." With the soprano, alto, tenor and bass sections mixed together throughout the group, the Chorale blends as one voice to create a truly magical sound.
Following was a complete change of pace, the delightful and energetic Nigerian carol "Keresimesi Qdun De O" arranged by the musicologist and collector of African folk songs, Wendell Whalum.
Then, the Chorale launched into the afternoon's tour de force - British composer John Rutter's "Magnificat" - the canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke I: 46-55) traditionally performed as part of the ancient service of Vespers in the medieval Roman rite. The Magnificat was first performed in 1990 in Carnegie Hall, N.Y., conducted by the composer and the UK premiere followed a year later in Coventry Cathedral.
Sung in Latin, the Magnificat is an awesome and moving piece. Sopranos Leslie Garman and Christine Hedke nearly brought the audience to tears with their glorious solos. One will be lucky to hear the Chorale perform the "Magificat" in a future concert.
The second half opened with Craig Courtney's "A Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas," an hilarious version progressing from a Gregorian chant through various musical styles including Bach, Mozart and Beethoven - culminating in a Philip Sousa march complete with American flags. Let's just say the feathers were literally flying in a silly and funny bit every time they sang "Three French hens!"
In a beautiful contrast, accompanied only piano and oboe, the Chorale softly sang "No Longer a Baby," by local pianist and composer Jan Sanborn, set to text by Bryan Jeffrey Leech.
Singing "a cappella," the 16-member Chorale Carolers (four members from each section) uncovered the unconventional meters on American jazz composer Dave Brubeck's take on "We Three Kings," and then conquered pianist Jeffrey Biegel's delightful, "Christmas in a Minute," set to the music of Chopin's "Minute Waltz," that zips through the stress and strain of holiday preparations!
Deserving of particular praise were the orchestra's wind and percussion sections - with Pat Maki on flute; David Kossof on oboe; Patricia Massey on clarinet; John Campbell on bassoon and James Atkinson on French horn. Throughout the concert, timpanist Kris Metalla and percussionist Allen Peck were spot on and harpist Amy Wilkins brought in the "Angelic Choir" with her magical fingers. Concertmistress Carolyn Osburn kept the strings harmonious with violinists Kirsten Fife, Sam Fischer, Yi Huan Zhao and violists Robin Ross and Caroline Castillo. Also outstanding were Cathy Biagini on cello and Ann Atkinson on double bass.
The concert ended with Randol Bass's splendid medley, "Christmas Flourish," including the soul affirming "Silent Night" with soloist Jill Hackett singing in German. The encore was Sanborn's "Heart of Christmas," leaving the audience weepy and full of more holiday spirit than one could imagine.
Join the Santa Clarita Master Chorale for the Midwinter Madrigal Feast, Sunday, Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Santa Clarita Activities Center Arena Room, 20800 Center Point Parkway, Santa Clarita. Described as an evening of merriment and revelry with a royal dinner, theater in the round, strolling minstrels and a silent auction to benefit the non-profit Chorale. Tickets are $100 and it is black tie optional. For ticket information, call (661) 254-8886 or by mail at P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459. Order forms can be obtained at the Chorale's website, www.scmasterchorale.org.
Future Master Chorale concerts are: "Chariots of Fire: Mendelssohn's "Elijah," Sunday, March 18 at 3:30 p.m., with a free pre-concert lecture at 2:30 p.m. Also, "Songs Without Borders," Sunday, June 3 at 3:30 p.m. - a program of folk songs from around the world. Both concerts will be performed at College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. Individual concert tickets are $26/$22/$19 general admission and $21/$17/$14 for seniors (62+) and students. Individual tickets are available by mail about six weeks prior to each concert and group rates are also available. All tickets sales are final, no refunds or exchanges.
Santa Clarita Master Chorale. For ticket information, call (661) 254-8886 or by mail at P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459. Order forms can be obtained at the Chorale's website, www.scmasterchorale.org.
January 2007 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
Master Chorale Lights Up the Holidays
by Tonya Chrislu
Now in its eighth concert series, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale lit up the holiday with its joyful and spirited performance at College of the Canyons’ Performing Arts Center on Sunday. The 50-member ensemble, supported by orchestra, presented a wonderfully varied Christmas program. Each piece was so meticulously prepared that the audience was left to enjoy the awe and delight of this beautiful choral music.
Allan Petker, the Chorale’s conductor, is a prolific composer and arranger with over 250 published works. His “Sing Gloria” set a thrilling, celebratory tone for the concert. The chorus started with a single melody and added others that intertwined while the orchestra played an interesting and energetic accompaniment. The quick-moving lines came together at the end with singers united in full voice.
The next piece, “O Lux” (O Light) by Audrey Snyder, started quietly, almost shimmering, with dissonant but beautiful clustered chords. A single, sweet high soprano voice above the chorus seemed to be the light in the text, “O light most blessed fill the inmost heart. Grant us peace.” And, indeed, it did. The singing was warm, lovely and peaceful.
With “Keresimesi Qdun De O,” a Nigerian Christmas song arranged by Wendell Whalum, the mood once again became joyful and upbeat. Accompanied only by traditional percussion instruments, the chorus sang in eight parts. This folk song provided a nice change of pace and was fun to hear in another language.
Peter Yarrow, singer and songwriter of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, is not usually associated with choral music, but his “Light One Candle” was moving. The simple tune had a Hanukkah flavor and started simply but built in intensity to the end. Here the audience got to enjoy the dynamic range of this group, always controlled, with a warm rich tone. It finished with conviction as the sopranos nailed the last high note. Beautiful!
The centerpiece of the program was John Rutter’s “Magnificat.” Like many other Rutter pieces, this is unpretentious and accessible. The women’s voices were especially sweet on “Of a Rose,” a contemplative setting of a 15th century poem highlighted by oboe and strings. Soloists Leslie Garman, on “Et Misericordia” and “Esurientes,” and Christine Hedke on “Gloria Patri,” each performed with remarkable warmth and focus. The “Gloria Patri,” sung in 12-8 time was, as in Bach’s B Minor Mass, representative of the six-winged seraphim. Its syncopated rhythms and beautiful melody punctuated the text.
The second half of the program started with a “Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas” by Craig Courtney, a clever and humorous adaptation of the traditional song. Each verse, accompanied magnificently by Ann Moore on the piano, was presented in a musical style that progressed from medieval Gregorian chant, through the renaissance, baroque, classical and romantic eras, extracting from famous works by Saint-Saens, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and even John Phillip Sousa. The chorale sang exuberantly with props and feathers flying throughout—truly hilarious!
Then, on a more serious note, came a lovely piece by Santa Clarita resident Jan Sanborn called “No Longer A Baby.” The rich chords in the chorus were perfectly blended, and the piano and oboe accompaniment made this piece truly remarkable.
Sixteen members from the chorale followed with two light-hearted pieces: “We Three Kings,” a jazz arrangement by Dave Brubeck, and “Christmas in a Minute” by Jeffrey Biegel, a frantic and busy waltz, which makes fun of the harried lives we lead in preparation for Christmas. Both pieces were performed with energy and precision.
The concert ended with “Christmas Flourish,” aptly named! It included four well-known Christmas favorites. Jill Hackett gave a superb performance of “Silent Night,” sung in German. Her rounded tone seemed to be that of an alto, but when she went to the higher notes it became apparent that she is really a soprano!
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is an ensemble not to be missed. This Valley is truly blessed to have such a high-caliber vocal ensemble. The professionalism of Allan Petker, Ann Moore and so many talented singers is very special. This chorale once again performed a tasteful and demanding program in style and musical quality.
If you are not a season ticket holder, be sure to get your tickets early for the next scheduled event, Chariots of Fire: Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” presented on Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 3:30 pm at College of the Canyons’ Performing Arts Center. A pre-concert lecture begins at 2:30 pm. “Elijah,” considered one of the greatest oratorios of all time, will feature orchestral accompaniment and bass-baritone, Brad Ellingboe, singing the title role. For more information, call (661) 254-8886, visit the Chorale’s website, www.scmasterchorale.org, or write the Santa Clarita Master Chorale at P.O. Box 800459. Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459
Tonya Chrislu is a music education graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and a former member of the St. Olaf Choir. She has taught junior and senior high vocal music, Kindermusik, a music and movement curriculum for very young children, and private voice and piano lessons. She is a resident of Santa Clarita.
October 1, 2006 (The Signal)
Master Chorale Singers Fete Founders
by Annemarie Donkin
What could be more charming than spending an evening under a perfect starry sky enjoying beautiful music, food and wine with your friends? That was the atmosphere as nearly 35 Friends of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale gathered for an elegant evening at the lovely home of Founders Circle members Eric and Diane Schmidt in Valencia for the third annual "Meet the Conductor" event.
"People want to get to know the new person," Artistic Director Allan Petker said jovially.
Petker will begin his third full season as conductor when the Master Chorale kicks off its eighth season Dec. 3 with "Holiday Lights," at the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Center.
In the grand tradition of European salons, Sherry Klahs, chairman of the board of directors, SCV Master Chorale, puts together these intimate musical events throughout the year for Chorale supporters.
As guests arrived, they sipped Chardonnay and enjoyed an outstanding selection of gourmet hors d' oeuvres prepared by Diane Schmidt while guests congregated at candlelit tables while awaiting the performance. Petker began the evening by introducing the vintages he selected to compliment each song.
"What an elegant experience to sip lovely wine while listening to art songs that compliment it exactly," he said. "It is a beautiful way to open an artsy event."
Brilliantly accompanied by Ann Moore on piano, Chorale member Jeanne Jordan opened with "After the Dream" by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) from the late Romantic, early Impressionist period. Jordan's lovely soprano floated high above the stars as she interpreted the bittersweet tale of unrequited love. Petker combined it with a light and lovely 2002 Louis Jadot Chardonnay.
For the second selection, Petker combined a lusty San Giovisi Merlot with "Doretta's Dream," from "La Rondine" by Giacomo Puccini (1858 -1924). Jill Hackett provided just the right note of passion and innocence.
The third selection was a scintillating version by Jordan of "Popular" from "Wicked," by Stephen Schwartz.
"I was having trouble thinking what wine to choose from New York, but remembered that Schwartz has workshops in California, so I chose a California wine (a Cline Zinfandel)," said Petker.
Naturally, he chose a French champagne for Jordan and Hackett's effervescent version of Lerner and Lowe's "The Night They Invented Champagne."
Pat Modugno and his wife, Joyce, said they thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Modugno, CFO of the Conrad Hilton Foundation and chairman of the Los Angeles Country Regional Planning Commission, said he and his wife are long-time supporters of the Master Chorale. They love the fact that the SCV has its own high quality music group that can easily compete with others they see in New York or London.
"We enjoy all of this," Modugno said. "We appreciate that we don't have to travel over the hill to see quality music."
In addition to their three annual public performances, the mission of The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is to educate the public about the importance of chorale music as an art form. Their "Keep America Singing" program provides fifth-graders at local schools to learn and experience through classroom instruction and live demonstrations.
One of the Chorale's board members, pianist Jan Sanborn, attended with her husband, Loren James, a retired stuntman who doubled for Steve McQueen and performed in films such as "How The West Was Won," and "The Graduate." Sanborn conducts master classes at California State University, Northridge and said the Chorale works at many levels in the community - to bring high quality music to the audience, a musical outlet for local residents and a training ground for young singers.
"The Chorale provides internships to students at CSUN," Sanborn said. "They just love it."
Comprised almost exclusively of Santa Clarita Valley residents, the 45-member Chorale ranges from amateur to professional.
"Everyone has to read music to acquire a spot," Petker said. "This is not a place for beginners."
City Councilwoman Marsha McLean, said she attends local cultural offerings as often as she can.
"I love coming to the events, the talent is amazing," she said. "The Chorale is one of the most beautiful blending of voices I have ever heard."
Another "Friends of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale," fund-raising concert will be held 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Valencia United Methodist Church, 25718 McBean Parkway, Valencia. Ticket prices are $25..-
For more information on Santa Clarita Master Chorale, P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459 Phone: (661) 254-8886, www.scmasterchorale.org
July 2006 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
SC Master Chorale's Celebrates the Spirit of America
by Joyce E. Baur
As the Santa Clarita Master Chorale ended its annual spring concert in early June, one member of the audience could be heard saying to herself and her friends, “Excellent concert. Excellent. Excellent.” And so it was. To those who have followed the Chorale since its first performance in 1999, this year’s offering was, by any measure, among its finest. Conducted by its accomplished and versatile artistic director, Allan Robert Petker, the 48-voice choral group provided a stunning panorama of musical tributes to the American spirit. Over and over in the course of the performance, the Chorale, along with its supporting cast of instrumentalists and narrator, led a full house of listeners at Valencia United Methodist Church to enthusiastic applause. “Stand Up and Cheer,” the title of the two hour program, could not have been more apt.
Do not be misled. This was not a John Phillip Sousa, salute-the-flag sort of performance. It was rather, in the tradition of the Chorale’s concert programs, a group of serious compositions coupled with a wide spectrum of folk and modern American music, all designed to musically dramatize America, its character and its dreams. “Stand Up and Cheer; the Four Freedoms,” a series of dramatic readings written by Jay Huguely and performed by Jim Brown, spelled out the unifying theme for the performances. Against the elegiac strains of Jay Unger’s “Ashokan Farewell,” Brown’s reading brought Franklin D. Roosevelt’s well-remembered four freedoms into focus. By turns, the music of the afternoon played out freedom of speech, freedom to worship as we choose, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
The opening number, Mark Hayes’ “jazzed-up” gospel arrangement of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” set the standard for an afternoon of music characterized by surprise and delight. Beginning with the lone, deep voice of Sean Goodman, bass, and growing, as sopranos Christine Enns and Cara Kowalczyk and tenor J.P. Jones joined in, the music gathered strength until the whole ensemble brought it to full volume. And so it was, with number after number, some quiet, some majestic and, at times, nearly thunderous, some slyly humorous; surprising and delightful.
If there is anything that has characterized the leadership of Allan Petker, it is his interest in and attention to twentieth century contributions to the field of choral music. Modern music masters Randall Thompson and Aaron Copland both had a significant contribution to this program. Thompson was represented by two selections from “The Testament of Freedom,” based on words of Thomas Jefferson. Copland’s unique contribution to American music—folk tunes at once lyrical and classical—was represented by selections from his award winning opera, “The Tender Land.”
The most noteworthy selection and performance in this year’s concert has to be Ron Kean’s “American Mass.” Kean has taken the basic components of the traditional mass, given them a beautiful and moving new voice, and added a series of counterpoints from American hymnody. His aim has been to “help tell the story of the American spirit in song.” The Chorale responded to the challenge of the composition with enthusiasm and ardor. Solo sopranos Jeanne Jordan and Jill Hackett added a special dimension to the composition.
Throughout the program, many an old favorite took on new significance with modern arrangements. Stephen Foster, Appalachian music and traditional spirituals all received treatments that ranged from exuberant to dramatic. Mike Andrews, bass, provided a special interpretation of the wayfaring stranger in “Going over Home.” Outstanding for her poignant rendition of a demanding aria was Leslie Garman’s solo, “My Man’s Gone Now,” from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”
Ann Moore, as always a superb accompanist, had several opportunities to delight the audience with solo compositions. Through the miracle of the modern electronic organ, Ann dazzled her listeners with “American Declaration,” a virtuoso “duet” in which she played organ and piano simultaneously.
The final set of the afternoon was a medley of Irving Berlin favorites, newly arranged by Jan Sanborn. What a lovely, lilting way to finish up a fine afternoon of music! Sopranos Marybeth Margrave and Regina Colombo and bass Tom Brown sang with flair and enthusiasm. Responding to the enthusiasm of the audience, Director Petker led the Chorale in their encore number, Berlin’s “God Bless America.”
Programs of such varied and excellent quality do not just “happen.” An artistic director and his committee first have to have the vision and the knowledge even to dream of such a thing. Fine instrumentalists underscore the musical effects and add greatly to the pleasure. Choral singers have to show up and practice under the expert guidance of their leader. A small army of volunteers has worked on all the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty to make sure the concert actually happens. And then, voila! The citizens of Santa Clarita are the beneficiaries.
Don’t miss the Chorale’s next concert season. Information will be available soon on website, www.scmasterchorale.org, or call 254-8886.
May 2006 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
An Exceptional Performance by the Santa Clarita Master Chorale
by Ed Carstens
If you weren’t in Santa Clarita’s College of the Canyons Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday afternoon, March 26, 2006, you missed one of the better performances of a major classical masterwork likely to be heard in the Los Angeles area this year. The Santa Clarita Master Chorale together with professional soloists and orchestra delivered a stunning performance of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, K. 427 (“The Great Mass”).
In the midst of its seventh season bringing exceptional music performances to Santa Clarita, the Chorale has become known for its quality of sound, impressive range and well-balanced dynamics. In this performance it also demonstrated a new excellence of articulation that brought heightened clarity to contrapuntal passages and excitement to the dramatic moments in the work. From the gently flowing strains of the opening “Kyrie” to the powerful final “Benedictus,” the Chorale performed as one magnificent instrument in the hands of its popular and highly respected Artistic Director, Allan Robert Petker.
Maestro Petker maintained firm control of the forces under his direction throughout the performance. He had command of a very talented and well-rehearsed group of singers and professional instrumentalists, and he made the most of it. Prior to the concert, Mr. Petker delivered an amusing and informative pre-concert lecture to prepare his audience to fully appreciate Mozart’s masterwork. Cautioning his listeners not to take the movie “Amadeus” too seriously as true Mozart history, he described some of the real circumstances surrounding the composition of “The Great Mass” and highlighted some things to listen for, such as influences of Bach and Handel.
Santa Clarita Master Chorale performances have always featured outstanding soloists, often from the ranks of the Chorale itself, but they outdid themselves this time. The guest soloists were sopranos Desiree Hassler, and Caroline McKenzie, tenor Jonathan Mack, and bass Michael Gallup.
Desirée Hassler, a former member of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, was a finalist in the 2005 Metropolitan Opera Auditions and winner of the Voice Division of the 2004 International Franz Liszt Competition, amongst other awards. In the opening of the Mass, she joined with the Chorale singing a floating legato pattern to which the Chorale responded. Her considerable vocal range was apparent in her flawless two-octave jump from a low A to a high A, followed by lovely trills and melissmas. The true beauty of her voice stood out in the slow and sustained melody of the “Et incarnatus est.”
Caroline McKenzie sang the difficult soprano aria “Laudamus te,” which Mozart had derived from music he had written for his opera singer wife Constanze (who apparently was simply not in Ms. McKenzie’s class). Filled with complex trills and lengthy melissmas, Caroline sang effortlessly, clearly sounding out each note, so that at once one heard a connected, flowing pattern and the individual beauty of each note.
Jonathan Mack, the tenor soloist, sang in a trio, “Quoniam tu solus,” with Caroline and Desirée and joined the other soloists in the “Benedictus” quartet. Jonathan, who has an eighteen-year tenure with the Los Angeles Opera, displayed a powerful, developed voice with a fine tone that he carefully matched to the voices of the other singers.
I would have liked to hear more of the strong rich bass voice of Michael Gallup, who is a regular guest soloist with many major opera companies and a singer of vast musical experience. Unfortunately, Mozart gave the bass soloist only a part in the final “Benedictus quartet.” Perhaps Mozart did not have as good a bass as Mr. Gallup available. The SCMC was fortunate to acquire talent of his caliber, as well as of the other soloists, and it speaks volumes that the Santa Clarita Master Chorale can attract this kind of talent.
If there was a weakness in the overall performance, it was a slightly diminished choral sound due to the stage facilities of the Center. Those of us who have heard the Santa Clarita Master Chorale in other settings realized some of the Chorale’s sound was not reaching the audience. Because of the rather large number of performers (52 singers and 23 instrumentalists), many of the singers were placed toward the back of the stage. In spite of the Center’s sophisticated sound system, and partial shells placed in back of the singers, some of the Chorale’s sound was not projected out to the audience. Perhaps a more complete acoustic shell would enhance future large ensemble performances in the Center.
If you have not heard this outstanding musical ensemble, do yourself a favor and plan now to attend their next concert, “Stand Up and Cheer” on Saturday, June 3, at 7:00 p.m. or Sunday, June 4, at 3:30 p.m. at Valencia United Methodist Church, 25718 McBean Parkway. If you have heard them, you know what I mean. For information, call The Santa Clarita Master Chorale, (661) 254-8886, or look them up at www.scmasterchorale.org.
February 14, 2006 (The Signal)
Magical Madrigal Feast
by Michele Buttelman
It was an evening defined by the phrase "eat, drink and be merry." Or as the "King" (played by Dean Smith) commanded - "Drink ale."
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale's inaugural "Midwinter Madrigal Feast" featured a host of "lords and ladies" festively costumed in heraldic and royal attire in a recreation of a 16th century royal banquet as well as an amusing "entertainment." The farcical "Handel and Gretzky: A Tale of Two Kiddies" was cleverly adapted to the people and places of the SCV by the show's director - Jay Huguely.
Between acts the cast - comprised of Master Chorale members who auditioned for their roles - performed chorale works under the direction of Allan Robert Petker, the Chorale's artistic and musical director.
In addition to Smith, featured actors included Heather Rayl as the Town Crier; John Fortman as the Jester; Catherine Simpson as Bob, the Director; Regina Columbo as the Queen; Larry Wood as Lord Mertonsire; Nancy Flores as Daddy/Step Mommy; Collette George as the Witch and Marie Gilbert as Effix. Courtiers were played by Mike Andrews, Linda Bonar, Neil Fleischer, Leslie Garman, Jeanne Jordan, Cara Kowalczyk and Clyde Wright.
Pre-show music (and a wonderful kazoo fanfare) was provided by Petker on the viola, Jerry Danielsen on guitar, Nancy Honaker on recorder, Marybeth Margrave on flute and Paul Sternhagen on percussion.
The elegant evening, which included hors d'oeuvres, champagne, raffles and dinner, attracted 115 guests, which gave the event high marks for entertainment and originality.
"I think it is lovely," said Ann Moore, a pianist who often accompanies the group. "They've all worked so hard on this."
Sherry Klahs, event co-chairwoman and Master Chorale board president, said the group plans to make the event an annual fund-raiser.
"We're looking at this to be our signature event," she said. "We want to be known as a group that puts on a quality affair."
Jill Hackett, event chairwoman, said she was surprised at the "hidden" talents of the Chorale singers.
"We were shocked and pleasantly surprised to find out how many actors we had," she said.
Among the event's attendees were state senator George Runner and his wife, assemblywoman Sharon Runner.
"This is a great way to showcase the local talent," George Runner said.
Money raised from the event will be used to assist in funding the group's sixth season which will present its next concert "Just Mozart" on Sunday, March 26 at the College of the Canyons performing arts center.
The 3:30 p.m. concert will feature a free pre-concert lecture at 2:30 p.m. by Artistic Director Allan Robert Petker. Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, the Chorale will present Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Great Mass in C Minor."
Tickets to "Just Mozart" are $19 for general admission and $14 seniors/students and are available by calling 254-8886.
Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks. For more information visit www.scmasterchorale.org
June 24, 2005 (The Signal)
Master Chorale Serenades Santa Clarita
by Michelle Sathe
Valencia United Methodist Church was recently packed to capacity as the 55-member Santa Clarita Master Chorale made beautiful music during a "Summer Serenade."
From Gregorian chants to early American hymns, and culminating with a "Sentimental Journey" of classic standards, the two-hour event showcased what artistic director Allan Robert Petker called "gems from different time periods."
"The first half is educational, while the second half is crowd-pleasing fun," Petker said. As a composer, Petker has over 250 published works including "The Circle," featured in "Serenade's" first act.
Composed almost exclusively of Santa Clarita residents, experience in the chorale ranges from amateur to professional. "Everyone has to read music to acquire a spot. This is not a place for beginners," Petker said.
Most have had musical training of some sort, Petker continued.
Soprano Desire Hassler was a particular standout with her operatic solo during "Oh! Quand Je Dors" by Franz Liszt, while accompanist Ann Moore provided gorgeous piano throughout the event.
The mission of The Santa Clarita Master Chorale, in addition to its three annual public performances, is to educate the public about the importance of chorale music as an art form. The "Keep America Singing" program helps fifth-graders at local schools learn through classroom instruction and live demonstrations.
"With all the cuts from government and other funding, there's a real lack in music programs. This allows us to expose people to incredible music," said chairwoman Sherry Klahs.
During the second act, an 18-child ensemble from the Valencia United Methodist Church accompanied the adult chorale, adding a touching chorus during the Petker-composed "Early American Hymn Festival."
Carolyn Osborne's haunting violin wafted in and out of favorites such as "What A Friend We Have in Jesus," "I've Got Peace Like a River," and "Amazing Grace."
Valencia's Tom and Penni Royston beamed proudly as they watched two of their grandchildren perform.
"We're enjoying it a lot, we love the singing," Penni said.
Kim Acosta of Canyon Country came to relive the magic she enjoyed as a child.
"I grew up hearing choir music, but I don't belong to a church," she said. "This is great."
Visibly pregnant, she rubbed her belly and smiled.
"I read babies respond to the tones of choir music. I'm here for the both of us," she said.
For more information on Santa Clarita Master Chorale, call 254-8886 or visit www.scmasterchorale.org.
January 2005 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
SC Master Chorale's "Holiday Splendor" Fulfills Expectations
by Joyce E. Baur
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale, now in its sixth season, provided its anticipated luster to the Valley’s holiday landscape with its annual winter concert on December 10 and ll, 2004 in Valencia Methodist Church. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Allan Robert Petker, the 60 voice choral group offered a sparkling and soul satisfying palette of seasonal music.
Don’t imagine for a minute that this was a program of same old, same old, tried-and-true crowd pleasers. Although it is safe to say that the assembled sold out ‘crowds’ on both Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon were very pleased, it must also be said that the program included a wonderful array of the ‘new’. There were modern compositions as well as new arrangements of familiar music, with the added flavor of brass and bells. In fact, a quick scan of the program showed that every composer and arranger was a product of the 20th century.
Artistic Director Petker set the mood for much of the performance with the triumphant tone of his opening composition, Christmas Prelude for Brass. It was followed immediately with the Gloria, a traditional liturgical piece, in this case composed with grand proportion by Randol Bass in 1990. Using to full effect the 60 voice chorale and 12 instrumentalists, Petker produced magnificent music.
Petker is not only an accomplished director of music, but also a composer and arranger. Deep in a Winter’s Night and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus demonstrated his ability as arranger and director. These traditional carols took on new beauty as the a capella Chorale joined with handbells to produce new harmonies.
The Alchemy Handbell Ensemble, directed by Boude Moore, was a delightful addition to the program. With a medley of traditional carols, the Ensemble nimbly and artfully provided both visual and aural beauty. White-gloved young musicians ably offered horizontal bell-ringing, with each person responsible not for a single note but for a voice.
Selections from The Incarnation, a Christmas cantata composed by K. Lee Scott in 1998, brought the first half of the program to a close. Adding special beauty to this devotional music was soprano soloist Desiree Hassler, who sang the familiar opening words of the Gospel of John.
Another soprano, Bonnie Thomas, brought out the pensive quality of I Wonder As I Wander with an Andrew Carter arrangement of this familiar Appalachian carol. Andrew Carter was also arranger for the Chorale’s rendition of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, a magnificent composition of unusual harmonies, with soaring sopranos supported by choral voices and the dramatic organ accompaniment of Ann Moore.
Changing the mood, Director Petker segued into the very appropriately named Sing a Merry Madrigal, a happy tintabulation of musical syllables sung by a dozen choristers.
There was room in the program for several secular classics, as well as two warm and well-received compositions by Santa Clarita resident and gifted musician, Jan Sanborn: Velvet Shoes and The Heart of Christmas.
The performance ended as it had begun, with the full chorale and instrumentalists together performing magnificent music, Donald McCullough’s Canite Tuba (Sound the Trumpet).
Under Allan Petker’s direction the Santa Clarita Master Chorale has demonstrated once again its versatility, its first rate musicianship and its well-deserved place among valued vocal groups in the greater Los Angeles area.
July 2004 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
SC Master Chorale Celebrates Five Years of Success!
by Christine Enns
In May, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale celebrated its fifth season running with a wonderful variety concert! The audience was entertained thoroughly with a walk down memory lane as the Chorale mixed memorable and favorite pieces from many of its performances over the last five years. In 1999, the Chorale started under the artistic direction of Dr. Peter Pocock, who recently moved back to his native Australia. Dr. Pocock helped set a high standard of musicality and discipline. Now, with the new tenure of Allan Petker, an internationally-recognized choral clinician and composer, the Chorale is getting the “best of both worlds.” Many audience members commented about the Chorale’s mature sound and the beautiful musicality being displayed from the singers. Also noted was the excellent choice of literature performed.
One outstanding piece that had many audience members humming along was the medley from Les Misérables, which featured solos by John and Lisa Martin, Dean Smith, Randy Pikop, Debbie Wolpert, Katie McFadden, Wally Purdy, Jeanne Jordan and Penny Wallace. As the evening went on, we heard a select group of eight singers in an a cappella rendition of “Michelle” by the Beatles, with Neil Fleischer soloing in his remarkable high tenor range. It was a very impressive moment as seasoned audience members could hear how well the ensemble blended and followed the direction of Petker.
A delightful surprise came in the second half when Petker conducted his own cleverly humorous composition called “Do you carrot all for me?” which names 11 different fruits and vegetables with a romantic play on words. Also noted was the gorgeous full-voiced Wendy Reed soloing in the traditional spiritual, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” Each note Wendy hit was pure and velvety, leaving the audience in awe. The evening also featured the famous “Lakmé Duet” performed by Nylea Butler- Moore and Leslie Garman, which made the house roar with applause for a good minute. It was a bittersweet moment as the Chorale says farewell to Butler-Moore, who is moving to Alabama.
The Chorale saved the best for last when it finished with a wonderful rendition of “In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’”--inviting all past members of the Chorale to sing together, a symbolic gesture of the celebration and the success of the chorus’s first five years.
All in all, the evening was a delightful display of the Chorale’s past, present and the beginning of future successes that will ring true for many years to come.
May 2004 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
SC Master Chorale and SC Symphony
Greet Spring With Beautiful Music"
by Joyce Baur
Spring is a time of new beginnings. This year an auditorium full of Santa Clarita music lovers celebrated the arrival of spring with a combination of several special new beginnings.
On Sunday afternoon, March 21, more than 600 listeners gathered in the William S. Hart Auditorium, Newhall, to hear the Santa Clarita Master Chorale join with the Santa Clarita Symphony Orchestra in their first concert together. It was also the Chorale’s first concert under the leadership of their new director, Allan Petker, as well as their first major concert performed not in Valencia but in Newhall. It was a special event which provided special, professionally performed classical music for an appreciative audience.
If spring is a time of new beginnings, it is also the time in the church year to celebrate liturgical music that deepens the meaning of the Lenten season. Together the Chorale and the Symphony produced two stirring masterworks, Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” and Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.”
The “Coronation Mass,” composed by a young Mozart in the early years of his career, seems to soar and move buoyantly forward, often with lyrical beauty. “The Lord Nelson Mass,” by contrast, is the work of a mature Joseph Haydn. Its music offers a more stately, perhaps even commanding aura. Under Petker’s capable clear direction, the 42 voice Chorale combined with the 20 instrumentalists of the Symphony to match the beauty and tone of each of the two compositions.
The Chorale members who were soloists added moments of special beauty to the performance. They were Leslie Garman, soprano; Nylea Butler-Moore, mezzo-soprano; Legend Ackley, tenor; and Walter Purdy, baritone for the “Coronation.” Leslie Garman, soprano; Wendy Reed, mezzo-soprano; Peter Precht, tenor; and Wally Purdy, baritone, were soloists for the “Lord Nelson.” Of these, it is fair to say that Leslie Garman’s pure and perfectly controlled soprano provided the afternoon’s most moving and memorable vocal performance.
Between the two choral numbers, the Symphony string sections performed beautifully the “Concerto Grosso for String Orchestra and Piano Obbligato” by 20th century composer Ernest Bloch. Robert Lawson, conductor, seemed really pleased to be directing this group of obviously experienced and talented musicians. Pianist Ann Moore, familiar to Chorale audiences, played Bloch’s spirited and fast-paced composition with distinction.
All in all, the afternoon concert was a tribute to the dedication of the fine musicians who live among us in the Santa Clarita Valley, and to the audiences who believe in them and support them. These are economically hard times for the arts, as budgets for support groups are being slashed on every hand. Yet it is the arts which enrich and sustain the heart and spirit of a people. Now more than ever both of the performing groups need the support of the community. The Symphony especially, which was launched only two years ago, needs visionary supporters. To offer assistance or obtain more information about the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, call 254-8886 or visit their website, www.scmasterchorale.org. For the Symphony, call 255-0244, ext. 13, or visit their website, www.scsymphony.com.
January 2004 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
Master Chorale Treats Us With "A Winter's Eve Celebration"
by Jerry Danielsen
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale excellently presented a program of cultural diversity and timeless music with its holiday celebration on December 5th, 6th and 7th at the Valencia United Methodist Church. Artistic director, conductor and organist Peter G. Pocock led the group of singers who sparkled like sonic glitter throughout the church halls. The skillful piano and organ accompaniment was gracefully executed by Ann Moore. These concerts were Dr. Pocock’s last with the Master Chorale, having been director since its inception in 1999, and he will be missed.
The evening began with the grand “Sing Noel,” featuring brass and percussion accompaniment with great dynamic power. The vocalists then showed extraordinary authority and delicate balance with “Resonet In Laudibus” a beautiful piece. Randall Thompson’s “Glory To God In The Highest” was both modern and joyful. The next pieces demonstrated Dr. Pocock’s infectious conducting style, and showcased the highly adept vocal talents of the group. The angelic “O Magnum Mysterium” was followed by several wonderfully blended, ethereal a capella pieces. “Sir Christèmas” had a jazzy, upbeat swing to it, which left the audience delighted.
We were then treated to traditional pieces “Deck the Halls” and “The Holly and the Ivy” arranged by John Rutter. Rutter’s “Gloria” was both emotionally and intellectually stimulating. The modern piece started mellow and introspective with amazing crescendos, and continued with tremendous virtuosity. Soprano soloist Leslie Garman lent dramatic clarity to each note, and all voices went well with the brass, percussion and organ. A periodic slide show containing lyrics in both English and native tongues was interspersed throughout the show.
After intermission, we heard the triumphant medley “Christmas Day” by Gustav Holst,featuring ebullient solos by sopranos Jill Hackett and Jeanne Jordan and bass Don Jepsen. Pieces by Mendelssohn followed with elegant drama.Mezzo-soprano Caroline McKenzie then led an outstanding African trilogy that started with longing a capella strains and progressed into a revivalist-type choir with syncopated percussion rhythms that had everybody moving. Later the jazzy and sometimes comical “Variations on Jingle Bells” was quite entertaining, and featured soprano Christine Enns.
“Hanerot, Halalu”magnificently concluded the evening, with exuberant applause. The hard work and impressive results of this Master Chorale is a gold mine of cultural excellence in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Jerry Danielsen is an active Composer-Poet-Musician who resides in Santa Clarita, and promotes local involvement in the arts.
December 1, 2003 (Santa Clarita Valley Daily News) p. 4
Musical Youth: Program Exposes School Kids to Choral Works"
Fifth-graders at James Foster Elementary in Saugus were treated to a choral music demonstration Nov. 14 as part of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale’s new educational outreach program, “Keep America Singing.”
The program was funded by a $5,000 grant from the city of Santa Clarita and is intended to provide 4th through 6th graders in local elementary schools with an opportunity to learn about and experience choral music through classroom instruction, CDs, tapes, live demonstrations, and free passes to Chorale concerts.
Kay Dell, a member of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and an elementary music teacher, began the new program with a live demonstration at the school featuring chorale members Larry Wood, Nylea Butler-Moore, Bonnie Thomas and Wally Purdy.
The Keep America Singing program was developed and will be administered by Dell, who has taught elementary music education for over 20 years and is currently serving as an adjunct professor -- teaching music literature for children -- at both California State University, Northridge, and California State University, Channel Islands.
“Many music educators such as myself are concerned that our children, with so much exposure to commercial music, are no longer singing,” Dell said. “Many children today are not even familiar with traditional folk songs that are a part of our American heritage.
“The two main objectives of our program are to promote and encourage singing, and to instill in students the desire to expand their knowledge of and appreciation for choral music.”
According to Dell, current plans are to present the demonstration to 5th grade students in three more schools in February. The outreach program will focus on 5th-graders during its first year, expanding to include 4th and 6th graders in the next two years.
The Keep America Singing program will extend this educational outreach by providing curriculum materials and study guides that can be implemented by classroom teachers.
“Contributing to arts education in our schools has always been a goal of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale. We are pleased that we are launching this program and look forward to expanding it to other grades and other schools in the future,”said Sherry Klahs, chairwoman of the chorale board.
July 2003 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita) p. 12
Master Chorale Entices With "A Little Night Music"
by Jerry Danielsen
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale shined with a diverse program of short, graceful pieces on May 30th and 31st at the Valencia United Methodist Church. Artistic Director and conductor Peter G. Pocock lead the group of singers with alternating currents of delicacy and power. The flawless and thoughtful piano and percussion accompaniment was excellently executed by Ann Moore.
The evening began with the joyous and upbeat “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” by Richard Rodgers. The vocalists then showed confidence and grace with a trilogy of elegant pieces by Debussy, Schubert, and Barber’s “Sure on This Shining Night” with uncertain ruminations in a softer dynamic. By the end of Verdi’s’ “Triumphal Scene” from “Aida,” the audience was in awe of the contrast and craftsmanship of this talented group of musicians.
Using a fragile blend of unaccompanied voices, the adventurous and elastic “Draw On Sweet Night” by the living composer John Rutter was wonderfully presented. The mood was enhanced by more tender, romantic pieces that followed. Before the intermission, we were treated to a trilogy of spirituals with inspired energy, including the southern revival “In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’,” with a solo by tenor John Martin.
The next part of the show consisted of more contemporary pieces. The drama and lucidity of “Tonight” from West Side Story was touching. A special treat was a robust, jazzy medley of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” and “In the Still of the Night.” Tenor Neil Fleischer was featured in a clever arrangement of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King.” Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” magnificently concluded the evening, with exuberant applause. The hard work and impressive results of this Master Chorale is a gold mine of cultural excellence in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The next event “A Winter’s Eve Concert” will be on Dec. 5th and 6th at 8pm, and Dec. 7th at 3:30. The Valencia United Methodist Church is at 25718 McBean Parkway, Valencia. For more information about the Chorale, call 254-8886 or visit www.scmasterchorale.org
Jerry Danielsen is an active Composer-Poet-Musician who resides in Santa Clarita, and who promotes local involvement in the arts.
May 2003 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita) p. 57
"Spring Songs" Show Diversity and Flair
by Donna Marie Covert
Spring is in the air. Music is in our hearts. The conductor is ready, the instruments poised, but where were the singers? A bit lost in the moment of great music; a false start. After a moment to clear their minds, the concert began in a breathtaking pianissimo.
A little over thirty miles north of Los Angeles in our bedroom community of Santa Clarita resides a small gem of culture known as the Santa Clarita Master Chorale. This group of dedicated volunteer singers performs three concerts a year to a crowd of local residence with a sense of dedication and flair. Their second concert of the season, titled “Spring Songs,” included Schubert, Brahms and Mozart: what diversity!
Considering the time it takes professional singers to rehearse and perfect such works, the performance of the SC Master Chorale was impressive. The blend, dynamics and understanding of style reflects the experience of their conductor, Peter G. Pocock, not to mention the performers themselves, who give uncompensated time for the love of music.
There of course are always places to improve in any organization of musicians. The choice to perform the Liebeslieder Waltzer by Brahms with a smaller group of singers was interesting, although I felt a bit empty without a larger sound to bring out the nuances. Each program selection offered soloists of every voice type, but not with equal ability. This brought unevenness in the ensembles. The overall performance of the Chorale was wonderful, although the men’s section could use a bit more depth. I must say I enjoyed the Mozart the best. The sense of the style was breathtaking. The sensitivities to the dynamics made the music come alive.
Given the mix of Mozart with Brahms, adding in the expertise of the conductor, the dedication of the singers and their love of music, it’s worth the time to attend the Chorale’s next event, “A Little Night Music,” to be performed on May 30 & 31 at Valencia United Methodist Church.
Donna Marie Covert, a professional opera singer for 20 years, presently sings with the Los Angeles Opera and is a resident of the Santa Clarita Valley.
May 23, 2003 (The Signal) p. E3
SC Master Chorale Triumphs in "Spring"
by Margie Anne Clark
“The beautiful flame of this love, don’t let it go out in sparks!” —
Brahms: Liebeslieder, Op, 52, 8.
Romance was in the air as the Santa Clarita Master Chorale presented “Spring Songs, Classical Beauty and Romantic Fancy”— the theme for its second concert of the 2002/2003 season. Under the artistic direction of Master Chorale conductor Peter Pocock, the choir soared to majestic heights as they serenaded the audience with a wide variety of classical romantic and religious tunes by Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Music lovers will have a chance to take in the sights and sounds of the Santa Clarita’s premiere Chorale when the Santa Clarita Master Chorale presents its season finale, “A Little Night Music” on Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31 at the Valencia United Methodist Church located at 25718 McBean Parkway in Valencia. The upcoming concert will feature the works of composers, Debussy, Barber, Schubert, and Rutter. The choir will also sing songs from South Pacific, West Side Story and The Lion King.
Concert-goers who had the good fortune of attending the Chorale’s “Spring Songs” were treated to rich bouquet of love songs from Brahms’ “Liebeslieder Waltz, op 52.” The piece included 18 romantic melodies which were performed in the German tongue. The Chorale’s outstanding singers transcended language barriers as they captured the imagination of the audience, while conveying the ardor and passion of Brahms’ bitter-sweet strains. If music is the universal language, then the performances of the Master Chorale shine as a great example of the sheerbeauty of rhyme and verse when set to brilliantly written music.
The ebbing and flowing of Brahms’ work resonated beautifully throughout the chapel of the Methodist church as the choir sang in a flurry of crescendos and fortes. The exuberance of the choir was also apparent as the chorus displayed their expertise in the art of interpretation in their rendition of the songs which included, “Rede, Madchen, allzu liebes,” “O die Frauen,” Schlosser auf, und mache Scholosser, and “Am Donaustrande, da steht ein Haus.” Mezzo Soprano Nylea Butler-Moore displayed poise and grace as she sang Brahms’ Wohl schon bewandt.” John Martin, a tenor for the Chorale, did an outstanding job in his solo “Nicht wandle, mein Licht, dort aussen.”
The show opened with Mass G, D, 167 by Franz Schubert. The piece featured six movements including, “Kyrie,” “Gloria,” “Credo,” “Sanctus,” “Benedictus,” and “Agnus Dei.” The choir displayed their versatility as they sang all of the songs of the movement in Latin. The Mass featured the solo talents of soprano Jill Hackett, tenor, John Martin, and bass Mike Andrews.
Following the intermission, the choir continued to perform in Latin as they sang “Vesperae solumnes de confessore, K, 339 by Mozart. Soloists included soprano Leslie Garman; alto singer, Delia Curiel; tenor John Martin and bass singer Wally Purdy. The program ended on a triumphant note with “Magnificent.”
Master Chorale pianists Ann Moore and Deborah Baur once again did an outstanding job of accompanying the choir on the piano. Moore did double duty on a few of the pieces by accompanying the Chorale on the organ.A 14 piece orchestra added to the drama of the performance, complete with violins, a viola and cello, along with a bass and bassoonist. Other instruments included the triumphant sounds of the trumpet and timpani.
Concert-goers had the opportunity to learn more about the songs and the composers as guest speaker, James A. Person, the founder of the Anglican Chorale of Southern California, addressed the audience prior to the performance. Person recently served as the conductor in residence with the MidAmerica Productions in New York, where he arranged concerts at Carnegie Hall. Person touched on the history behind Classical Beauty which emerged in the western cultures in the years between 1750 and 1825 when classical composers were enjoying new opportunities to create music for it’s own sake in an increasingly secular Europe.
Opportunities for romantic expressiongrew from 1825 to 1900 as nationalism in Europe climaxed as the outpouring of composers reflected the intense emotion of the land.
Following a rousing round of applauds, as well as a standing ovation, Pocock thanked the audience for their support of the Master Chorale as he took his final bows.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity to see the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, I would encourage you to go see their upcoming concert. If you are a regular patron of the Master Chorale then you are already familiar with the high caliber oftalent that abounds in this highly professional group of musicians. It’s amazing to me that this group, which is already an outstanding group of singers, just keeps getting better with each and every performance. The residence of Santa Clarita have a real treasure in the Santa Clarita Master Chorale.
Tickets for the Master Chorale’s “Spring Song” concert are: General admission,$17, and $12 for seniors and students. To order tickets or for more information about the Master Chorale call 254-8886 or visit the web at www.scmasterchorale.org.
February 2003 (Magazine of Santa Clarita) p. 30
Santa Clarita Master Chorale Opens of
Season with "Let It Snow!"
by B.J. Schramm
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale's holiday concerts at the Valencia United Methodist Church last December 6, 7, and 8 exceeded every expectation. The breadth of musical styles and the high level of musicianship exhibited by the Chorale were a welcome addition to the holiday season.
The program ranged from the jazz-inspired stylings of arranger Ed Lojeski to the musical heights of Vivaldi's "Gloria." These diverse stylistic influences were beautifully combined to deliver a refreshing musical treat.
Adding to the pleasure of the evening was the exquisite architectural setting of the Valencia United Methodist Church. The almost "in-the-round" seating of the church ensures that every seat has full access visually and aurally to the concert experience.
The program opened with the Ed Lojeski arrangement of "Winter Wonderland." The musical textures and shapes woven into Lojeski's arrangement were effortlessly drawn out by the Chorale, delivering their trademark choral sound under the direction of Artistic Director Peter Pocock.
Other Christmas favorites were performed with equal poise and attention to detail. Assisting Dr. Pocock at the podium was the Chorale's associate director, Mary Purdy, a choral music educator with musical credits and achievements spanning a 25-year career in the Southern California area.
The highlight of the evening was a traditional favorite during the holiday season, Antonio Vivaldi's "Gloria." This work was performed with a full orchestral accompaniment. The balance between orchestra, choir and soloists was marvelously achieved, a credit to Dr. Pocock's skillful control and the church's outstanding acoustics.
The program concluded with a set of Robert Shaw arrangements entitled "The Many Moods of Christmas." Performed with orchestral accompaniment, the Chorale held up to their usual standards of musical excellence, taking the audience through a nostaglic montage of Christmas favorites including "Joy to the World," "Fum, Fum, Fum" and "Patapan." It was a fun way to conclude an evening of delightful holiday gems presented by some of Southern California's best choral musicians.
If you have not attended a performance by the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, you should treat yourself to their upcoming concerts--March 21 & 22 and May 30 & 31. Founded in 1998, the Chorale is still one of Santa Clarita's best-kept secrets. For more information, call 254-8886 or write Santa Clarita Master Chorale, PO Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380, or visit their website at www.scmasterchorale.org.
B.J. Schramm is the Choral Director at Pine Mountain Community Church. He holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Piano and Choral Conducting from CSUN.
December 13, 2002 (The Signal) p. E6
Chorale Sounds of the Season
by Margie Anne Clark
Glorious sounds of the holidays resounded majestically throughout the evening of the Master Chorale’s “Let It Snow” holiday concert held on Dec. 6, 7 and 8 at the United Methodist Church in Valencia. The sold out concerts drewstanding ovations andwas the perfect kick off to the holidays and the Chorale’s 2002/2003 concert season.
Under the artistic direction of artistic director Peter G. Pocock, the Chorale soared to eloquent heights in their performance of a rich variety of classical arrangements sprinkled with contemporary favorites.
The program opened strong with the Chorales’ performance of “Winter Wonderland,” featuring the soprano talents of Hill Hackett, and Leslie Gorman along with tenor John Martin. The Chorales rendition of “In the Bleak of Winter” evoked a remembrance of winters past of the Pre-Raphaelite era through the moving lyrics of 19th century poet Christina Rosetti. Soloists Bonnie Truaxand Wally Purdy added a nice highlight to the piece.
The Chorale continued to cast a spell on the audience in their rendition of “The Snow” and “Set Amid the Winter’s Snow. The pace picked up with “Like Snow,” directed by Mary Purdy. The piece featured smooth dynamics and a crescendo of rich pianissimos and fortes all perfectly blended to capture the allure of snowfall.
In continuing to capture the stark contrast of icy white amid the darkness and mystery of winter, the Chorale sang in flowing rich tones,of “Velvet Shoes,” arranged by local composer Jan Sanborn. Sanborn, a past president of The National Conductors Guild and a nationally acclaimed pianist, Sanborn is best known to Master Chorale audiences for her arrangement of the Loren Janes Silver Screen Medley, presented in finale concert in June. “Velvet Shoes” featured flowing melodies sprinkled with the feel of falling show.
The concert took a classical tone with the Chorale’s rendition of “Gloria in D, RV 589 by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). The compilation, discovered in the 1920’s, has delighted audiences around the world.
The piece opened with the bright tones of “Gloria” then segued into thesomber tones of “Et in terra pax hominibus.” “Laudamus te” featured the solo talents of Hackett and mezzo soprano Nuylea Butler-Moore. The arrangement continued in strong tones in “Gratias agimus tibi.” Joining the Chorale were more than a dozen talented musicians whose instrumental talents added a majestic touch to the evening. The crisp and precise tones of the orchestral accompaniment proved to be an impressive addition to the well rehearsed choral arrangements.
“Gloria continued in tones both bright and somber, highlighted at times with whimsical upbeat notes. Domine Fili Unigentie featured a flurry of arpeggios crescendoing from pianissimo to rich full forte tones. Darker tones segued into lighter strains “Domine Duesu Agnus Dei.” The piece featured the soprano talents of Leslie Garman. Other pieces in Vivaldi’s “Gloria” featured the solo talents of alto Delia Curiel and mezzo soprano Pat Moynihan. The culmination of the work ended on a triumphant note with a rich blending of choral voices iced with crystal clear soprano top notes.
The second half of the show opened with a dashing note with “Let it Snow, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” with arrangements by Ed Lojeski. The song, penned by composer Jule Styne and writer Sammy Cahn, was originally made famous by Frank Sinatra. Other traditional favorites includedthe Chorale’s upbeat version of “Caroling, Caroling,” intertwined with “Some Children See Him, featuring tenor Gary Janney.
A nice orchestration of Jingle Bells rang in nicely, followed by “The Many Moods of Christmas. Chiming in as the concert continued were other traditional favorites, including, “Joy to the World,” “Away in a Manger” “Fum Fum Fum,” and “March of Kings.” Closing tunes included “Silent Night,” segueing into “Patapan and “Oh Come,” “All Ye Faithful.” Following the standing ovation, the Chorale performed “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” as an encore to an already festive evening.
Now in its fourth season, The Santa Clarita Master Chorale was established in 1998 by Founding Directors Jill Hackett and Deb Baur. The Chorale is recognized as being a first-class independent community chorus in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Chorale’s second program, “Spring Songs:” Classical Beauty and Romantic Fancy,” will be held on Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22. Timeless treasures from the Classical and Romantic eras including Mozart’s “Vesperae solennes de confessore,” Schubert’s “Mass in G” and Brahms” “Liebeslieder Waltzes” will among the songs featured for the Spring event. The concerts include a free pre-concert lectures an hour prior to the concert.
The season finale, “A Little Light Music,” will be held on Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31. The concert will feature light classical and Broadway choral tunes and the music of great composers and lyricists like Sondheim and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Other upcoming events include the “Hoedown at the Master Corral!” The popular event is scheduled for early spring and will feature a chili cook-off as well as line-dancing andmusic.
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is a non-profit corporation dedicated to fostering and stimulating a love of fine choral music in the Santa Clarita Valley and Southern California. This is accomplished through a an annual concert series of outstanding quality, educational enrichment programs at local schools, and involvement in community-based arts efforts.
For ticketsand further information, call the Santa Clarita Master Chorale at (661) 254-8886 or write to: Santa Clarita Master Chorale, P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459.
July 2002 (Magazine of Santa Clarita) p. 23
Master Chorale Finishes Season with a Magical Flourish
by Joyce Baur
In the tradition of great performances everywhere, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale ended a third successful season with a truly grand finale, "Choral Classics of the Silver Screen." Under the direction of Dr. Peter Pocock, the 50-voice Chorale performed to sold-out audiences on May 31 and June 1 at the Valencia United Methodist Church. Film score favorites--both the dramatic scores from the works of masters and the lighter selections from favorite musicals and westerns--drew an almost electric response from the audience.
Throughout the evening the bright and beguiling narration of professional actor Dwight Schultz connected the songs with the films they enhanced. Greg Finley wrote the script storyline.
The opening number, "Exsultate Justi," composed by John Williams for the movie, "Empire of the Sun," set the tone for the evening with its vigor and joyousness. Sopranos Leslie Garman and Nylea Butler-Moore added a rich and haunting obligato to Jacques Offenbach’s familiar "Barcarolle," heard in the film, "Life Is Beautiful." The first half of the program ended with the thunderous exuberance of Carl Orff’s "O Fortuna," the opening number in his famed "Carmina Burana."
In the second half, the bittersweet nostalgia of "Scarborough Fair," sung at a slow and rueful pace, showcased the special rapport between conductor, pianist and chorus. As the grand finale to the program, the Chorale premiered the "Loren Janes Silver Screen Medley," a musical collage from some of Janes’ most memorable appearances in film, arranged by his wife, local artist Jan Sanborn.
The encore piece, "Non Nobis Domine" from "Henry V," featured Pocock at the organ and a lyrical solo by tenor John Martin. The music gathered force as the men’s voices joined in, building to a great crescendo of full chorale strength that brought the audience to its feet.
The musicality of Maestro Pocock was in evidence throughout the evening as he led his singers through changing tempos, moods and styles. As always, Ann Moore’s piano accompaniment was fine professional work in its own right. Trumpets and percussion added color and texture to the performances.
When the music ended and the clapping finally subsided, one listener expressed the sentiments of the audience, "People in Santa Clarita need to wake up to the treasure we have right here." Yes, indeed!
(Joyce Baur, a resident of Tennessee, is a Founders Circle member of the Chorale, and a lifelong lover and supporter of the arts.)
June 28, 2002 (The Signal) p. E3
Master Chorale revisits movie classics at concert:
Season Finale of Santa Clarita Master Chorale
features music from Hollywoods' heyday
by Margie Anne Clark [Signal Staff Writer]
"Music on screen can seek out and intensify the inner thoughts of the character. . .it is the communicating link between screen and audience, reaching out and enveloping all into one single experience." — Bernard Hermann.
The days of wine and roses enjoyed a resurgence as the Santa Clarita Master Chorale concluded its 2001- 2002 concert season on May 31 and June 1, with a magnificent presentation of "Choral Classics of the Silver Screen."
The event was held at the United Methodist Church in Valencia where concert-goers were treated to a nostalgic journey through some of Hollywood’s most memorable tunes under the artistic direction of Chorale conductor Peter Pocock.
Narrating the program was television actor Dwight Schultz. An acclaimed Broadway actor as well, Schultz is best known to fans for his portrayal of Murdock on the classic NBC series "The A-Team and as the irrepressible Barclay on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Schultz, who has starred opposite such stars as Paul Newman, Glenn Close and Sissy Spacek, kept the audience well entertained with his wit, charisma and humorous musical anecdotes.
The show featured a special arrangement by Jan Sanborn, a local composer and president of the National Conductors Guild. Sanborn said she has been impressed with the work of the Chorale. "It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring musicians of all ages together," Sanborn said. As the senior music editor for Fred Bock Music Publishing Company, Sanborn is the author of "Solo Piano," published by Ron Harris Publishing in Los Angeles, as well as "Accompanying," published by Pavane Publishing in Los Angeles. In addition to her publications Sanborn’s arrangements featured a medley of tunes paying tribute to the work of her husband, stuntman Loren Janes. A well known stuntman for more than fifty years, Janes has stunted for more than 500 films— including numerous Westerns —in his illustrious career. Both Janes and Sanborn were present for the opening night concert. Janes was a recipient of the 2002 Golden Boot Award.
"The Loren Janes Silver Screen Medley" featured such familiar tunes as "Before the Parade," Hello Dolly," "Put on a Happy Face," and the ever classic Camelot." Hearkening back to a more romantic era, the choir sang a lovely rendition of "If Ever I Would Leave You," featuring a solo by bass singer, Sean Goodman, a 2002 Valencia High School graduate.
Other songs in the Janes medley, included "Sand Pebbles," "Friendly Persuasion," and "The Graduate." Mike Best, a tenor, performed solos in Sand Pebbles. Best and baritone Wally Purdy performed a duet for the "Graduate."
"How the West Was Won," featured deep rich legato tones of mixed voices that seemed to transport the audience back to the days of the Old West. As the song progressed, the pace quickened to lend a dramatic effect to a song that embodied a classic era of westerns films.
"I’ve had some very unique and wonderful experiences," Janes said. In all his years of movie making —the Santa Clarita Valley is very fortunate to have this high of caliber of musicians coming together to make such great music," said Janes, a gifted singer, who at one time considered a career in the opera before becoming a stuntman for the late Steve McQueen.
Other highlights from the performance included "The Music of MGM ( A Choral Medley," arranged by Greg Gilpin. The arrangement featured such familiar and classic tunes as "That’s Entertainment," San Francisco, "The Trolley Song" and Good Morning," featuring a solo by soprano Christine Enns. Also included in the medley was Make "Em Laugh," with a solo by tenor, John Fortman.
In a tribute to a timeless classic, the Chorale performed two songs from the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz." Singing with gusto and enthusiasm, the chorus sang a colorful rendition of "We’re Off To See The Wizard." The classic tune "Over the Rainbow," was sung to perfection by the chorus and featured the crystal clear vocals of soloist Bonnie Truax, a soprano for the Chorale. Of course, no MGM tribute would be complete without the song made famous by Gene Kelly, "I’m Singin’ in the Rain."
The mood of the performance took a sentimental turn when the Chorale performed "Scarborough Fair, arranged by Fred Bock. From the film "Breakfast at Tiffany’s," the chorus sang the romantic strains of "Moon River," arranged by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. "The Days of Wine and Roses," arranged by Mancini, added a nostalgic touch to the evening as¨ the audience learned a little bit of movie trivia. Schultz explained that while the film the Alamo came up short as a box office success and nearly caused John Wayne to go broke, it was the film’s theme song "The Green Leaves of Summer," that became a memorable classic.
The first half of the show included such classics as Exsultate Justi, by John Williams, as well as Sanctus, from Missa Luba, an African Mass from an arrangement of a Kenyan folk melody. Other songs included "River," from the motion picture, "The Mission," "Barcarolle" from the Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach, featuring soprano Leslie Garman and mezzo soprano Nylea Butler-Moore. Other tunes from the classical era of music included "Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi and the Hallelujah Chorus, from the Messiah, by Georg Friedrich Handel. During the performance of the Hallelujah Chorus, audience members rose up from their seats as part of the tradition of the Chorus.
During intermission, guests enjoyed mixing and mingling while enjoying cookies and coffee in the foyer of the chapel. Pocock said he was pleased with this season’s offering and looks forward to the 2002-2003 season. The 2002/2003 season will open with "Let It Snow!" on Friday December 6 and Saturday, December 7, both at 8 p.m. The Master Chorale will be adding a new Sunday matinee performance for the first time to accommodate the ever growing audiences. The first Sunday Matinee will be held on Sunday, December 8 at 3:30 p.m. The second concert will be a classical masterwork on March 21 and 22, 2003. The season will close with a light classical concert on May 30 and 31, 2003. The Santa Clarita Master Chorale, a non-profit, public benefit corporation, was established in July 1998 by Founding Directors, Deb Baur and Jill Hackett.
Pocock graciously thanked the audience for their patronage and support of the Master Chorale. "I couldn’t hope for a better group of singers and musicians," Pocock said.
For more information about the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and upcoming concert information, call, 254-8886, or visit the web at www.scmasterchorale.org.
May 29, 2002 (The Signal) p. A6
Santa Clarita Master Chorale Members Sing
at Highlands Elementary
by Karen Phelps Bowcott
Who says opera and kids don’t mix? Santa Clarita Master Chorale singers, Leslie Garman and Nylea Butler-Moore, captivated the sixth graders at Highlands Elementary with a singing demonstration. Reprising the Flower Duet from Lakmé that they performed in the Master Chorale’s June 2001 concert, the singers had the students involved and fascinated. "The students were so much fun!" reacted Garman. "Music appreciation truly starts with children (the younger, the better), and this appreciation can foster a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment," summed up Butler-Moore. Both singers have worked in the teaching profession and were thrilled by the staff and students’ enthusiasm for the classical music.
Music teacher Leanna Tarczynski coordinated the event in conjunction with a curriculum about the opera, Aida. Tarczynski also organized a field trip for students and parents to see the rock-opera version of Aida by Elton John at the Ahmanson Theatre in January. She voiced surprise that few of the students had ever been to the Music Center before.
Although a music program is not a guaranteed part of the California public school curriculum, many schools in the Saugus District, like Highlands Elementary, are recognizing the benefits of including as much time for students with a music specialist as financially possible. Tarczynski has taught at Highlands for many years and is passionate about and dedicated to making a wide variety of music vibrant and accessible to the students. Judging by their warm reception to the Master Chorale demonstration, she is succeeding.
(Karen Phelps Bowcott is a member of the Chorale and a freelance writer. She resides in Santa Clarita and teaches music at Mountainview Elementary in Saugus.)
April 2002 (Magazine of Santa Clarita) p. 8
Master Chorale Raises the Roof with Mozart and Beethoven
by James A. Person
Biting off two masterpieces of the Classical period in music, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale presented the Mozart Requiem and the Beethoven Choral Fantasy on March 8 & 9 at the Valencia United Methodist Church. Even though oddly paired, the two worked very well together and were well within the abilities for these 54 volunteer singers. A mighty orchestra of 27 accompanied the Mozart and the winds were exceptional as the haunting melodies twisted and turned to create an introduction to the texts.
Artistic Director Peter Pocock held all parts together in a commandingly controlled and precise conducting style and the crescendos were mighty in both the chorus and orchestra. The high drama required for Mozart's final work was minimized somewhat by the absence of pianissimos in both the orchestra and chorus especially in the Confutatis and Lacrymosa. However, the Domine Jesu section showed great attention to detail during rehearsal in both difficult interval singing and quick dynamic changes. The four soloists, selected from within the choir, varied in tone quality. But their ensemble singing was quite well blended especially in the Benedictus. The final fugue, Allegro, (Cum sanctis tuis) brought all the forces together in an energized climax to Mozart's prayer for the dead.
The shining star of the evening was pianist Ann Moore who thrilled everyone with her brilliant and sensitive offering in the Beethoven Choral Fantasy. The wedding of piano solo, piano and orchestra dialogue and final section with the chorus was impressive and true to the grand Beethoven style. Dr. Pocock clicked in with just the right tempos and the choir rose to the occasion with proper German and energy as the audience jumped to their feet in appreciation. The Santa Clarita residents are privileged to have Peter Pocock and the Santa Clarita Master Chorale as presenters of fine choral music.
The Chorale's next concert, Choral Classics of the Silver Screen, will be held on May 31 and June 1, at 8 p.m. at Valencia United Methodist Church, 25718 McBean Parkway, Valencia. For more information please write the Chorale at P.O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380 or call 661.254.8886
James A. Person holds a Masters in Choral Conducting from the University of Southern California and currently directs the Anglican Chorale of Southern California.
February 2002 (Magazine of Santa Clarita) p. 21
Master Chorale Embraces the Spirit of the Season
by Peggy J. Walters
Embracing the spirit of the season, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Peter Pocock, recently presented a beautifully conceived and executed program of holiday-themed music. "A Holiday Tapestry" marked the opening of the third season for this exceptional group of voices, and both sold out houses at the Valencia United Methodist Church (December 7th and 8th) were treated to an evening of two recent major compositions in "Lux Aeterna," by Morten Lauridsen which began the program, and selections of John Rutter’s "Magnificat," which ended the evening.
"Lux Aeterna," which centers on the theme of Light, so much a part of many religious observations celebrated at the apex of the winter solstice, was richly and expressively sung under the guidance of Dr. Pocock. The Chorale, accompanied by a full chamber orchestra, was expertly conducted through this very demanding program. From the first notes, this ensemble seemed to blend into one glorious golden sound. With every eye riveted on the conductor, and every breath seemingly breathed in tandem, Dr. Pocock was able to draw pinnacle performances from all musicians, both vocal and instrumental. Watching him conduct was a visual joy; his style exuberant, yet crisp, focused and determined.
Sections two and three, before the intermission, were the more "traditional" presentations of music typical of the season. Two carols arranged by John Rutter, "Silent Night," and the French traditional offering, "Il est ne le divin enfant," plus Rutter’s own compositions, "Mary’s Lullaby" and "Shepherd’s Pipe Carol," were just the perfect contrast to the deeply moving aura and inspiration of "Lux Aeterna." These carols were light and airy in "Enfant," and smooth as silk in "Silent Night," showcasing the wonderful diversity of music this chorale can deliver. In section three, two selections from Handel’s "Judas Maccabaeus" were gifts to the audience in exultantly sung packages. "Judas Maccabaeus" happens to be this reviewer’s favorite work of G. F. Handel (with apologies to admirers of his "Messiah") and my ears were exceedingly pleased by this wonderful musical punctuation just before intermission.
Selections from Rutter’s "Magnificat," which closed and capped the evening’s repertoire, included solos delightfully and expressively sung by sopranos Leslie Garman and Laura Luxmore. The addition of timpani in this phase of the program augmented the overall dynamics of this well-known passage of St. Luke. With the Chorale’s efforts still razor and vibrant, what a perfect ending to a musically thrilling evening: "Alleluia. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
I would be remiss in not adding additional kudos for Ann Moore, the resident accompanist on both piano and organ. She is a musician of exceptional talent and exemplary performance skills.
For those who missed this season opener of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, you still have two opportunities to experience their wondrous talent(s). "Masterpieces from the Classical Era" performed on March 8th and 9th, and "Choral Classics of the Silver Screen," presented on May 31 and June 1, will undoubtedly reward audiences with exceptional musical evenings.
For tickets and further information, please call the Santa Clarita Master Chorale at (661) 254-8886 or write to: Santa Clarita Master Chorale, P. O. Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459, or visit the Chorale’s website at www.scmasterchorale.org.
Peggy Walters studied voice with Luigi Velluci, a vocal coach at the New York City Opera, and enjoyed a long career of singing and acting. Retired from performing, she is currently a partner in an advertising specialty business located in Hermosa Beach.
August 2001 (Magazine of Santa Clarita) p. 53
Santa Clarita Master Chorale's "Mozart and Friends"
Concert Rated "Best-Ever"
by Joyce Baur
A seasoned and self-confident Santa Clarita Master Chorale celebrated its second anniversary with a virtuoso performance of operatic choral selections. Under the sure direction of Dr. Peter Pocock, artistic director, the 43-member chorus recently performed its spring concert, "Mozart and Friends," a performance rated "best ever" by a great number of the concert-goers.
Pocock, who has a well-earned reputation as a master choral conductor, led his singers through a demanding program of opera choruses and Broadway music that ranged from Mozart to Gershwin and Lloyd Webber. In the process he gave his audience a new understanding and appreciation of familiar music and led them to the pleasures of unknown works.
Setting the stage for the opera selections and tying them together was a fast-paced narrative script written by Stacy Kyle and Nylea Butler-Moore, and read by veteran actors F. William Parker and Peggy Walters.
Many in the audience had been present in 1999, "at the creation" so to speak, of the Chorale. They have followed the Chorale’s path of growing maturity as an ensemble, and enjoyed particularly the wealth of talent that has found an outlet in the chorale. The entire audience reflected back to the Chorale its obvious enjoyment and appreciation for an evening of great music. Smiles of delight greeted the spirited verve of boa-draped Pat Moynihan’s "Habanera" from "Carmen." The "Bridal Chorus" from "Lohengrin" took on an unexpected depth of meaning, as words were added to music that many associate with the organ.
Director Peter Pocock has the ability to pull from his singers a full range of tone and volume, evoking the perfect emotional response for each piece. Hearts were touched by Jill Hackett’s "Dido’s Lament" from Henry Purcell’s "Dido and Aeneas." Sweet pleasure was found in the soft rippling duet, "Dôme épais le jasmin" of Leo Delibes’ "Lakmé," sung by sopranos Leslie Garman and Nylea Butler-Moore. Pulses quickened for the stirring full-throated "Soldiers’ Chorus" by Gounod and "Do You Hear the People Sing" from "Les Mis" by Schonberg,
The bond of affection between performers and audience was dramatized in the warm and emotional farewell to a favorite soprano, Desirée Hassler. Her smiling, expressive face mirrored the pleasure she found and shared in choral singing, even as her vocal talent moved her listeners.
Ann Moore’s accomplished musicianship at the piano once again added a special dimension to the chorale performances. Several of her instrumental introductions to the choral works were virtuoso piano recitals.
A reception to recognize the Chorale’s Millennium Club sponsors took place at the home of Board chairman Sherry Klahs immediately prior to the Saturday performance on June 2. Honored were Bryce and Jo Ann Blakely, Jack and Linda Gordon, Elwin Greer, Tom Morse and Diane Boddye, Mr. and Mrs. J. Eric Schmidt, the Wal-Mart Foundation, and Larry and Beth Wood.
For information about the Chorale, call (661) 254-8886 or write to Santa Clarita Master Chorale, P.O Box 800459, Santa Clarita, CA 91380-0459, or visit www.scmasterchorale.org.
Joyce Baur, a resident of Tennessee, is a Founders Circle member of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and a lifelong lover and supporter of the arts.
July 6, 2001 (The Signal) p. E3
The Power and the Majesty of Mozart and Master Chorale:
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale ends season on a high note
with Concert featuring 'Mozart and Friends'.
by Margie Anne Clark
"When You perform. . . you are out of yourself— larger and more potent, more beautiful. You are for minutes, heroic. This is power. This is glory on earth—" Agnes De Mille
The power and majesty of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale came to life in all its glory with its rousing presentation of "Mozart and Friends," the final concert of the 2000-2001 season, at the United Methodist Church in Valencia on June 1 and 2. Blending a robust mix of rich vocals, along with a superb piano accompaniment, by pianist, Ann Moore, the evening featured an outstanding variety of operatic songs ranging from classics, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Georges Bizet, Handel and Richard Wagner, and George Gershwin, to more contemporary favorites from Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The program was narrated by acclaimed actor, F. William Parker, of the Emmy Award winning show, "The West Wing," and his wife and actress, Peggy Walters. Now in its third season under the artistic direction of internationally renowned conductor, Peter Pocock, the 43-voice Chorale, is a tour-de-force of musical talent, and a true gem in the heart of the Santa Clarita’s ever blossoming entertainment offerings.
Displaying a musical forte of classical proportions, the Master Chorale evoked a charismatic charm that rang through in crystal clear tones of color and light, while blending an exquisite assemblage of harmonies which seemed to abound throughout the entire evening performance. Rich deep resonant tones effortlessly floated into the air while enchanting and mesmerizing the enthralled audience. In addition to the music, the narrative provided just the right amount of humor to the mix, while educating the audience on the history and subtleties of the songs.
First-time concert-goer, Larry Small said he found the performance to be very invigorating. "It was just fantastic and it’s very exciting to know that the Santa Clarita Valley has such a first rate Chorale in its midst," Small said. Fellow music lover Barbara Sparren agreed. "They did a fabulous job and the entire concert was very enjoyable," she said. Other concert-goers included acclaimed pianist, and future president of the National Choral Conductors Guild, Jan Sanborn, and her husband, actor/stuntman, Loren Janes. Sanborn will replace Pocock, outgoing president of the Conductors Guild, tonight, at an installation dinner in Long Beach. "It’s wonderful to see so many talented musicians perform here in Valencia," Sanborn said. Her husband, agreed. "The Santa Clarita Valley is very fortunate to have this high of caliber of musicians coming together to make such great music," said Janes, a gifted singer, who at one time considered a career in the opera before becoming a stuntman for the late Steve McQeen.
The program opened with Mozart’s "Voyagers’ chorus from Idomeneo," and featured soprano singer extraordinaire, Desiree Hassler. In beguiling crystal clear tones, Hassler kept the audience under a spell of enchantment throughout the song. Following Hassler’s haunting melodies, the chorus sang "Witches Chorus," from Macbeth, by Verdi. The whimsical number, directed by Chorale associate director, Mary Purdy, choral director at Canyon High School, added a touch of humor and variety to the overall performance.
Some of the highlights to the performance included the Flower Song from "Lakmé" by Delibes. Concert-goer and opera expert, Hans Hansen, a local accomplished musician in his own right, described the Master Chorale’s rendition of the piece as being magical in
quality. "The two female soloists were just outstanding," said Hansen of soloists, Leslie
Garman and Nylea Butler-Moore. "When the two women walked out of the Sanctuary and down the hall, the effect was quite haunting," he said. Other highlights included The Bridal Chorus from "Lohengrin." " This piece was very well done," Hansen said, adding that the contrast between the men and women was great. "It was sung with great feeling and very well rendered," he said.
Singing with panache and enthusiasm, The Soldier’s Chorus from "Faust" by Gounod, showcased the robust bravodo of the male half of the chorus in excellent, rich deep tones. An old war-horse of song, The Anvil Chorus from "Il trovatore" by Verdi, resounded so clearly in tones of strength and might, that a few concert-goers said they could almost imagine a few husky men walking on stage while hitting their anvils. "Brindisi" from "La traviata" by Verdi was very well done and proved to be the perfect piece to close the first half of the performance with.
The second half of the concert featured familiar tunes from "Porgy and Bess" by George Gershwin. Classics such as "I Got Plenty O Nuttin’, "Summertime," and "It Ain’t Necessarily So," brought back memories of a more classic era in musical genres. The chorus sang some enchanting melodies from the musical "Les Miserables" that were truly awe inspiring to hear. A rich mix of contrasts resounded through, in emotional tones of dark and light with such songs as "I Dreamed a Dream," Castle on a Cloud," and "Do you hear the People Sing." Tenor Mike Best did a superb job in the haunting piece, "Bring Him Home."
As a special treat, the Master Chorale rounded out the evening with songs from the Broadway hit musical, "Phantom of the Opera," by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The sheer joy of singing the tunes rang through clearly as the enthusiastic chorus of voice displayed their versatility in singing styles in such musical numbers as the exciting and enticing, and ever popular hit, "The Phantom Opera." The chorus expressed a wide range of emotions as they followed Pocock’s direction, in a unity of balance, grace, and excellence. Other songs from "Phantom" included, "Think of Me," "All I Ask of You," and the haunting, "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again." "The Point of No Return," was especially intriguing.
The evening’s performance closed with a special encore performance, featuring Mascagni’s "Easter Hymn." The song spotlighted soprano soloist, Desiree Hassler, in her last performance with the choir. Reprising her crystal clear tones, Hassler displayed a poise and strength of someone who is sure to go far in the world of music. Hassler, a Masters College graduate, is leaving the choir to further her musical studies on the east coast.
Pocock graciously thanked the audience for their patronage and support of the Master Chorale. Pocock, who has led the Santa Clarita Master Chorale since its inception two years ago, is the National President of the Choral Conductors Guild. With Masters and Doctorate degrees in Music from University of Southern California, Pocock has had a distinguished choral-conducting career in both Australia and the United States. "I couldn’t hope for a better group of singers and musicians," Pocock said. "I am grateful for the support of this community in giving us the opportunity to perform. It’s been a great year," he said.
For more information about the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and upcoming concert season information, call, 254-8886, or visit the web at www.scmasterchorale.org.
April 20, 2001 (The Signal, Escape) p. E3
Master Chorale Educates and Entertains:
SC Master Chorale adds pre-concert lecture
to sounds of French composers
by Jeff Bringle
Just as the quality of sound from a symphony orchestra depends upon the skillful blending of instruments employing a varied palette of textures, so, in turn, does the Santa Clarita Master Chorale depend upon its most prized instruments, the voices of its 43 members. On Friday, March 23, I was fortunate enough to secure a seat among a packed house at the Valencia United Methodist Church and experience an evening of pure vocal virtuosity.
The evening began with a very informative pre-concert lecture by Dr. Paul Plew, comparing and contrasting the lives and compositional styles of the French composers Maurice Duruflé and Gabriel Fauré as they related to their respective bodies of work, each a Requiem Mass, being performed by the Master Chorale at the 8 p.m. concert. The Latin term "requiem" is most closely translated as "rest" in English, and each of the composers sought to convey in their works their interpretation of the solemn liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church as sung to honor the departed and to ask for rest for their immortal souls.
Under the guiding baton of Maestro Dr. Peter Pocock, the Chorale once again presented a breath-taking range of vocal expression and precision.
The Duruflé Requiem, the lesser known of the two, led off the evening highlighted by the hauntingly expressive "Sanctus" during which the Chorale shared the fruits of their tireless and passionate dedication to the choral art form. The Tenor section was virtually flawless in the "Agnus Dei" movement.
The Fauré Requiem followed with its stunning melodies and complex harmonic textures. Fauré had been quoted as seeing death as "…a joyful deliverance," rather than "…a painful experience." In the "Offertoire" movement, the Tenors and Altos joined in a beautifully interwoven harmonic exchange, while Wally Purdy provided a valiant Baritone solo in the face of a somewhat overly fervent performance by the accompanying Chamber Orchestra. Leslie Garman, the Soprano soloist in the "Pie Jesu" displayed exceptional breath control in her lyrically clear, confident tone. Likewise, Mike Andrews, the Baritone soloist in the "Libera Me" movement sang with an inspired authority.
Overall, Pocock’s strong rapport with his charges was reflected in their respectful attention to his call for the many changing dynamics of each piece. At its most reverent pianissimo, the 43 voice Chorale sounded as one, a barely perceptible yet perfectly intelligible whisper of sound. On the fortissimo end of their spectrum the Chorale exhibited the wonderfully restrained musical thunder of a group twice or even three times their membership. Throughout the evening, their gazes were riveted to their director’s every move, their enunciation of the difficult Latin text crisp and precise, and their sectional entrances in each piece confident and well executed. They were well served by an expanded Chamber Orchestra made possible in part by a most generous grant from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. This is a most accomplished group at this juncture in their existence, and they gave us yet another glimpse of their mettle as well as their ability to use their vocal instruments to sing intelligently, inspirationally and most important of all, honestly.
Jeff Bringle is a former member of the Valley Master Chorale, the Ojai Camerata, and most recently, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, where he is a Charter Member and former Music Librarian. It was a distinct pleasure to hear the Chorale from the audience’s perspective at last.
Friday, December 22, 2000 (The Signal, Escape, pp. E12-13)
Master Chorale Sets Tone for Holiday Season:
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is in the
holiday spirit with performances of ‘Gloria!’
by Joyce Baur
Music to match every mood of the season was performed by the Santa Clarita Master Chorale to sold-out, delighted audiences at the Valencia Methodist Church on Friday, December 8 and Saturday, December 9.
Artistic Director Peter Pocock led the approximately 45 member Chorale in a performance of wide-ranging virtuoso vocal compositions. Thirteen talented instrumentalists, led by concertmaster Peter Kent, lent the beauty of orchestral accompaniment to the Chorale’s vocal performance.
The evening began and ended with a mood of awe and reverence. The many voices of the choral group seemed to breathe hushed notes of beauty as they sang a cappella the compositions of both new and old masters. Beginning with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Glory Be to God” from the “All-Night Vigil,” the first set continued on without interruption through “Heavenly Light” by Aleksandr Kopylov, “O Nata Lux” by Los Angeles composer Morten Lauridsen and finally “Totus Tuus” by Henryk Gorecki. These compositions of moving resonance, though mostly new to the listeners, drew sustained applause.
The succeeding set of choral masterworks was of a grander scale, sometimes tender, sometimes majestic, and at other times exuberantly joyful and captivating in an entirely different way. Beginning with Hector Berlioz’ “Thou Must Leave Thy Lowly Dwelling,” this tender and moving piece was enhanced with the oboe of Jennifer Mitchell.
The set continued with the serenely beautiful “Sanctus” from Maurice Durufle’s “Requiem” followed by two compositions from Handel’s “Messiah” with Heidi Best’s vibrant soprano doing full justice to the recitative, “And Suddenly There Was with the Angels,” followed by the familiar “Glory to God.”
Concluding the first half of the program, J.S. Bach’s magnificent “Sanctus” from his “Mass in B Minor” was the unquestioned high point of the evening. The Chorale performed this majestic work with vigor and intensity. In the “Pleni sunt coeli” section, Pocock chose to highlight segments with the use of soloists, creating a lighter texture alternating with the full Chorale’s robust sound, all of which climaxed in an electrifying ending.
In the second half of the program, Director Pocock selected largely familiar and popular seasonal music offered in different, less well-known arrangements. The result lent an air of surprised pleasure to what could have been ho-hum choices.
Opening the second part was the only relatively obscure number, “There Is No Rose of Such Virtue,” a 15th century text sung to a lovely 1980 composition by Santa Cruz resident Robert H. Young. Again, the beauty of the music and its presentation ensured that it will be remembered with pleasure.
“The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”), composed by Mel Tormé and first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1947, received a bright new arrangement by Jan Sanborn, a resident of Santa Clarita.
“Go Tell It on the Mountain,” a traditional spiritual performed often enough to verge on the trite, had a new and enlivening arrangement done by another Santa Clarita Valley resident, Paul Sjolund. The incorporation of a swing beat gave a lilt to the joyous message of the song. Chorale accompanist Ann Moore displayed her virtuostic skills with the jazzy piano accompaniment, while Laurie Curry’s smooth alto voice provided a welcome and satisfying introduction and solo to the piece.
No Christmas concert is complete without the audience joining in for the singing of traditional carols. With Mary Purdy, the Chorale’s associate director at the podium, Peter Pocock at the organ and Ann Moore at the piano, the listeners became performers in a spirited rendition of three carols, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Joy to the World.” Later in the program, the listeners sang along in three more carols, this time with Pocock directing, and further enhanced with orchestral accompaniment and vocal descants.
The finale to the evening was the performance of the joyous “Hallelujah Chorus” from George Friedrich Handel’s “Messiah.” Although the Chorale is capable of a full-throated, grand sound, Director Pocock chose to highlight the beauty of the music with a lighter and quicker 18th century interpretation.
“Silent Night,” the encore number, restored the mood of the music to that of the opening set. This most loved carol was sung in low, muted tones, underscored with a moving accompaniment of oboe and piano, and enriched with soloist Delia Curiel’s warm alto voice. The hushed performance underlined the sacredness of the miracle celebrated throughout the evening.
With this concert, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale affirms its place among the valued artistic organizations in the Valley. As the growing number of Valley residents who appreciate the quality of the Chorale’s performances will confirm, Director Pocock’s skilled conducting and choice of music combined with the sound of talented and dedicated singers always guarantees a satisfying evening of musical entertainment. Mark your calendars for the Chorale’s next set of concerts, “French Masterworks,” on March 23 and 24, sure to be another enjoyable musical evening.
Joyce Baur, a resident of Tennessee, is a Founders Circle member of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale and a lifelong lover and supporter of the arts.
Wednesday, December 13, 2000 (The Signal, p. A8)
Master Chorale: More than worth it
by Eve Bushman
On Sunday, Dec. 3, while almost everyone was either tied up in their own holiday lights or watching someone else do it at the tree lighting at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Samantha and I attended a free concert by the Santa Clarita Master Chorale at Valencia library. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t tell Sam she was missing Santa at the other activity, or maybe it was because her music teacher, Mr. Eric, was in attendance, but either way we both were silent for over 40 minutes. And that ain’t easy.
Later that week I saw a post on Tell It to The Signal asking if the price of future concerts ($17 general admission, $12 senior/student) was worth it. Of course I responded that it was, but I wanted, as always, to say a little bit more.
In junior high school we had a choir and I, not unlike all my school chums, signed up for this “easy” elective. We didn’t actually learn to read music notes, or follow the “artistic director,” but we were happy just to learn the words to the popular songs. My group of friends were all designated as second sopranos. We tried to sing from our diaphragms, but no one had ever pointed out in what part of our chest this imagined metal siding lie.
We were lost. Our only hope was to be drowned out by the alto section behind us. But still we forged ahead, imagining in our wildest fantasies that our diaphragm was indeed doing the right thing and we would become the next Carole King.
My mother got thrown out of choir when she tried to join one as an adult. Poor thing. Had it been an elective in her day she could have had her chance. We both now are left with the confines of our respective showers and cars, imagining that if we just had the right artistic director we would have made it.
Samantha tried her own voice out with singing lessons last year when VIBE studios offered the classes through Parks and Recreation. The classes averaged a little over 10 paltry bucks an hour, but she never wanted to practice. When the recital finally came, she made it through with flying colors. She hasn’t asked to continue her lessons as she’s caught up with other activities now, but as soon as Eddie forgets that she wanted to be the next Britanny Spears, we may go for it again.
At a friend’s funeral some years back the recorded singer whose voice wafted up from behind a lattice fence brought tears to my eyes. I thought it was a recording of my friend’s as she had been a great, albeit unheard of, singer. The only people who had heard her were at her friend’s weddings, her husband and her young son. No, it hadn’t actually been her, her husband tearfully told me after, just what he thought sounded most like her.
Then there was that psycho psychic boyfriend of mine, B.E. (Before Eddie, of course), that could make everyone around him hear his singing without opening his mouth or diaphragm. He just had a hole in our minds he could plug his own brand of acoustics into, anytime he wanted. He seemed to have a nice voice, in a very weird way.
After hearing the Santa Clarita Master Chorale I know now, firsthand up and close, how dead wrong I was about any hopes of talent in my family. These people were truly gifted, with or without the best teachers I imagined. Their program promised that this award-winning, standing-ovation-warranting, rave-press-reviewed singing group would charm. And charm us they did.
The holiday songs chosen for that day ranged from the English to Welsh, written by Rachmaninoff, Bach, Berlioz, Handel and others. The 45-voice chorale also performs classical masterworks, spirituals, folksongs and Broadway music. We applauded easily after each song, building to our own crescendo; we couldn’t help but give them a standing ovation, either.
Their limited holiday performances, at press time, have passed. (How I thought they could have improved the wait for the shuttle buses – 90 minutes at times – at the Holiday Home tour.) But in March they are holding a “French Masterworks” concert, and in June, “Mozart and Friends.” We, including the little one, are big Mozart fans, so that’ll be the one we’ll aim to attend.
I admit that a few times I whispered a thought or two into my 5-year-old’s ear to keep her attention. Once I suggested she concentrate on one singer and see if she could make out when he or she sang their part. Other times we looked for the most animated. I also promised she could visit with her favorite teacher, Mr. Eric, at the end if she were good. Something did the trick.
Then I dreamed of my junior high choir, Carole King and a day when well-performed live music wouldn’t make me cry. That’ll be when I’m 6 feet under, I guess, when someone else will be doing the crying.
Eve Bushman is a Newhall resident.
Friday, November 24, 2000 (The Signal, Escape, p. E8)
Melody Makers: The Santa Clarita Master Chorale,
45 members strong, loves to make beautiful music.
by Michelle Snyder, Signal Entertainment Writer
One Palm Sunday two years ago Jill Hackett and Deb Baur were driving on the Interstate 5 freeway, returning home from an enlightening choir performance in the Los Angeles area. On that trip, inspired by the music, both members of the United Methodist Church of Valencia decided that they wanted to participate in a choral experience of their own.
Between the Calgrove and Lyons Ave. exits, Baur and Hackett looked at one another and said, “Why don’t we start a chorale group of our own?”
So they put their heads together and created the Santa Clarita Master Chorale.
Back then, the idea for the SCMC was a mere fantasy, a seedling of inspiration that was shared between singers Baur and Hackett, both residents of the Santa Clarita Valley. Now more than two years and 43 voices later, Hackett is the Chorale’s first chairperson and Baur is their CEO and a devoted member.
“Here we are, and I still can’t believe that we have come as far as we already have,” Hackett said.
Baur also expressed her enthusiasm and devotion for the much favored choir group that is quickly growing in size and popularity.
“The opportunity to create beautiful music with a group of singers is one of the great blessings in my life,” Baur said. “The icing on the cake is the knowledge that this group, in presenting quality choral works and continuing the fine choral traditions established in our local educational institutions, is adding to the quality of life of Santa Clarita Valley residents.”
Hackett agrees. “We’ve developed public awareness not only in the local arts-loving audiences and fellow arts organizations, but also in our City Council, Chamber of Commerce and media,” Hackett said. “We have given much thought to our community and made it a priority to develop our outreach programs.”
As plans for the Chorale began to develop, Hackett – a former music teacher and experienced singer with a BS from Ball State University – agreed with Baur that the Santa Clarita Valley needed a musical organization in which to hone its creative talents.
In May of 1998, they met with Dr. Peter Pocock, who would later become the chorale’s beloved artistic director.
With Doctorate and Masters degrees in Music from University of Southern California, Pocock has conducted choral groups all over the world.
Born in Australia, he has had a distinguished musical career in both the land down under and the U.S. During that time, he worked for three years as deputy director of the Concert Music Division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Since 1991, he has been Director of Music Ministries at the United Methodist Church of Valencia.
“We spent roughly nine months planning what we were going to do before we did it,” said Pocock.
For Pocock, it was the kind of moment he had been hoping for since he arrived in the valley nine years ago. He’d wanted to form a group of high caliber singers, but to succeed Pocock knew that a chorus needed skilled leadership.
So he accepted the challenge.
In an earlier article printed in “The Signal,” Pocock expressed his enthusiasm for the chorale and its members. “I knew immediately the quality that I was going to get when I met with Jill and Deb,” Pocock said. “I was happy to take on the project.”
From experience, Pocock knew that maintaining a successful choral organization meant avoiding mistakes that other groups fail to recognize while trying to get off the ground. That meant singing before the business and organizational elements were in place was out of the question.
“You’ve got to get your 501(c)(3) status before you can actually get a tax-deductible donation from anyone,” he said. “Because we got off the ground quickly, we got all the mechanisms rolling before we even sang a note.”
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale is dedicated to fostering and stimulating a love of fine choral music in the Santa Clarita Valley and Southern California through an annual concert series of outstanding quality, educational enrichment programs at local schools, and involvement in community-based arts efforts.
But for many in the community, the SCMC is a place to call home.
“The chorale is a place I can go when I am feeling troubled or angry,” chorale member Jeff Mathias said. “It’s full of wonderful, caring people that will be there to listen if you have problems. I have a great time there and I am glad to be a part of the group.”
Like many members of the chorale, Mathias views his participation as one of the most fulfilling aspects of his life.
“I make time for the Santa Clarita Master Chorale,” he said. “I have probably one of the most twisted and busiest schedules, but all I can say is that the love I have for singing and the positive atmosphere the chorale promotes is what keeps me going.”
Mathias also said that since he joined the group a year ago, he feels he’s grown more as a singer and a performer.
“To me, dedication means giving your absolute best shot at completing a task and striving to become better,” Mathias said. “It also means making an honest effort.”
The chorale rehearses once per week from September through June and performs three concerts per year in December, March and June. Since its debut two years ago, the chorale has performed a wide range of classical masterworks including spirituals, folk songs and Broadway music.
While striving for the highest level of artistic performance, the Chorale is also dedicated to serving the community. The group gives free performance at senior citizen residences from time to time. It is also developing educational enrichment programs for local high school students.
In March 2000, Artistic Director Peter Pocock spoke to Valencia High School music students to prepare them to listen to the Brahms Requiem. In June 2000, the Canyon High School Concert Choir joined the Chorale for the grand finale of the “Bach to Broadway” concert, gaining the experience of singing under a high caliber adult choral group under a master conductor.
The Chorale plans to continue coordinating future repertoire with local schools so that it can offer workshops in which students and chorale members will sing together.
The SCMC has succeeded at bringing together experienced singers and also getting them to blend well together as a group.
“You need to get everybody basically singing the same way in order to get that unified sound,” Pocock said.
To meet that challenge, Pocock has been trying different techniques during each rehearsal period. Sometimes he stands one singer in a different place in relation to another singer—a process called “vocal matching,” which Pocock said can also improve overall blend.
“Dr. Pocock is wonderful when it comes to creativity,” Mathias said. “We can sing a piece the exact way it is written, but with Peter we can take a piece and make it blossom.”
Mathias, who began his singing career at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School, thinks that music is a gift that needs to be shared with the community.
“I think that as more and more people hear about us and see our concerts, we will gain more singers to join us in the great times we have during each rehearsal and performance,” he said.
Friday, November 3, (The Signal, Escape, p. E3)
Interns Join SC Master Chorale: Talented high school students join Chorale in new intern program.
by Dana Charles
Singing in a choir is nothing new for Canyon High School senior Marc Olsen, or for Valencia High School 10th grader Eric Rowland, who are members of their respective high school choirs. But, joining the Santa Clarita Master Chorale for Monday night rehearsals as interns is something that is not only altogether new for them, but it's also a first for the Chorale, as well.
The two high school singers were chosen as the SCMC's first interns after receiving recommendations from their high school choral teachers and passing the Chorale's regular audition process, according to Peter Pocock, the Chorale's Artistic Director. "Since our first rehearsals began several weeks ago, we've been so pleased with the participation of these two talented students," Pocock said.
According to Chorale Chairman Sherry Klahs, the 45-voice Santa Clarita Master Chorale launched its new intern program on a trial basis to provide a special musical experience for selected local high-school students who have demonstrated outstanding vocal ability. "The idea behind the program was to take high school students into the Chorale, depending on their availability, for either a semester or a full year," Klahs explained. "For that period of time, we wanted them be singing members of the Chorale to help them gain the experience of singing challenging repertoire with a high quality adult group under a master conductor," Klahs said.
Intern Marc Olsen, 17, sings with the Bass II section. Last year, Olsen auditioned and was accepted into the State's regional honor choir. He is thinking about majoring in music at BYU in the not too distant future. So far, his Chorale experience seems to have given him a new respect for the ability of the adult singers around him. "I marvel, really, at the sound, at the quality of music that we do," Olsen said. "You sight-read it for the first time, and it (sounds like) something that I'm used to practicing for months and months to make it become performance quality. But, (here) that's just how we start out. It's amazing to me," Olsen said.
At 15 years of age, Intern Eric Rowland, singing Tenor II, is currently the youngest member of the SCMC. In addition to his singing ability, Rowland also plays alto saxophone and piano. Last year, Rowland auditioned and was accepted into the State's regional honor choir. Later, he was selected for the all-state honor choir, as well.
Since he began his Chorale internship, Rowland has been impressed not only by the quality of the group's singing and its repertoire, but also by the concentration and discipline that the adults exhibit during rehearsals. "It's different from high school," Rowland said. "In high school you get immaturity a little bit more, and a little more slack. (But) here, when everyone is talking and Dr. Pocock says 'everyone be quiet,' you can hear a cricket in the background. It's down to business. Singing with adults is a lot more of a serious thing, and you have to treat it as it's a very serious place to be," he said.
Olsen agreed. "In high school, it's a bit more laid back. People laugh, and they talk, and they talk. But here, somebody makes a hilarious joke, you laugh for five seconds, and then you are done, and then you move on. It's quite a concept to me," Olsen said.
Discovering that kind of serious focus that adults bring to their music during rehearsals, among other things, is just the kind of experience that the implementers of the Chorale's intern program were hoping their new interns would have, and would learn from.
"Eventually we hope to have one intern from each of the local high schools," Pocock said. "After watching Marc and Eric during these past several weeks, it's clear that they've raised a high standard for those singing students who will participate in the intern program in the future," he said.
June 23, 2000 (The Signal--The Escape)
Bach to Broadway is Season Swan Song
By Joyce Baur, Special to the Signal
With the final stunning concert of its inaugural season on June 2 and 3, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale fulfilled in grand measure the promise of its first presentation just a year ago. Singing in the familiar venue of the Valencia Methodist Church, under the direction of Dr. Peter Pocock, the 50 voice choral ensemble offered to its clearly delighted audience another Bach to Broadway feast of musical masters.
Dr. Pocock, as artistic director, not only selected music for a variety of tastes but also assured through masterful direction that all listeners would enjoy the program from beginning to end. Throughout the performance, Pocock has his singers in the palm of his hand, bringing forth not only soaring dramatic sound, but also a pianissimo as light as a whisper.
The Chorale's professionalism and the virtuosity of its performers carried it through a tremendously demanding range of musical genres. There were deeply moving compositions in every set, ranging from Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, through Verdi's Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from the opera Nabucco and Copland's deeply wistful Long Time Ago and on to the final Sing Me to Heaven. There were bright lilts a-plenty, too: toe-tapping Scottish folksongs, hand-clapping traditional spirituals, and a grand medley of Disney favorites. Truly something for everyone.
Pocock set the standard for the evening by opening with Randall Thompson's majestic The Last Words of David, a composition that demanded a full range of dynamics from the chorus. A magnificent collection of sacred masterworks by Bach, Mendelssohn and Mozart concluded with a moving solo performance by baritone Wally Purdy in Franz Liszt's The Beatitudes.
Throughout the evening, other soloists added color, emotion, and depth to the program. Mike Best, tenor, and Daniel Cardwell, baritone, shone in one of the concert's favorite numbers, Au Fond du Temple Saint from Les Pecheurs des Perles by Georges Bizet. For the Saturday evening performance, Mike Andrews brought smiling responses from the audience with his exuberant performance as tenor soloist with the well-known spiritual Amen. There is nothing quite as light and joyous as a Disney medley, and the Chorale made the most of the old favorites selected for the evening. Solos by Mike Best, tenor, and Delia Curiel, alto, both enhanced the medley.
For the first time, the Chorale invited the Canyon High School Concert Choir to join its performance. The well-trained high school students, who are directed by Mary Purdy (the Chorale's associate director), joined the Chorale in Leonard Bernstein's Make Our Garden Grow from Candide.
Following an enthusiastic standing ovation, the two groups capped the evening with the beautifully moving Sing Me to Heaven. Both audience and Canyon High singers found the joint performance to be "moving and inspirational," according to Kevin Frandson, a former member of the Chorale who was in the audience for Saturday's performance.
Ann Moore, the Chorale's brilliant accompanist, was the unsung star of the evening. From her introduction to the opening number by Thompson to the last note of Make Our Garden Grow, she provided not only the instrumental underpinning of the evening's performance but also virtuoso solo introductions and interludes.
In its first year on the cultural scene of the area, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale has ably reached its stated goal "to provide choral music of the highest quality" to residents of the valley. The Chorale has assumed a recognized place among other performing arts groups in Santa Clarita. Most important, it has all the ingredients for continued future success: a top flight artistic director, a corps of skilled singers, a capable and dedicated Board of Directors, and the growing financial backing of the community.
In addition to striving for the highest level of artistic performance, the Chorale is also dedicated to serving the community. For example, the joining of Canyon High School Concert Choir with the Chorale is an example of the Chorale's educational enrichment programs for local high school students. Previously last March, Dr. Pocock spoke to Valencia High School music students (taught by Chorale member Debora Wait) to prepare them to listen to the Chorale's performance of the Brahms Requiem. The Chorale hopes to work with all local high school choirs over the years. Aside from providing educational benefits for the students, the Chorale Board feels very strongly that its future lies with such high school and college choirs. In fact, a number of current Chorale members began their musical careers at Canyon High.
Artistic Director Pocock, in taking note of the Chorale's first anniversary, commended its co-founders, Deborah Baur and Jill Hackett. In addition, he presented to Mrs. Hackett, who has had to withdraw as Chairman of the Board and member of the Chorale because of business demands, a special certificate of appreciation on behalf of the City of Santa Clarita, signed by Mayor Darcy.
Friday, June 9, 2000 (The Signal) Escape, E3
'From Bach to Broadway' is Final SC Chorale
Concert of Impressive Season:
Canyon High School Choir makes special appearance at season ending SC Master Chorale concert.
By Michelle Snyder, Signal Entertainment writer
The Santa Clarita Master Chorale, along with a special appearance by the 60-voice Canyon High School Concert Choir, and under the direction of Artistic Director Peter J. Pocock, performed June 2 and June 3 at the Valencia United Methodist Church for a packed house of eager and inspired Santa Claritans.
The program, entitled "Bach to Broadway" marked the third and final set of performances of the group's first full concert season. The musical evening featured a wide variety of music ranging from folksongs to classical pieces.
The Chorale performed "Here Yet Awhile" from Bach's St. Matthew's Passion," Randall Thompson's "The Last Words of David" and "He, Watching Over Israel" from Mendelssohn's "Elijah."
Along with other classic spirituals, the Chorale also sang Jester Hairston's arrangement of "Amen" featuring tenor soloist Mike Best, tenor, and Daniel Cardwell, baritone.
The 60-voice Canyon High School Concert Choir joined the Chorale on both nights for the program's final number "Make Your Garden Grow" from Leonard Bernstein's Broadway Show "Candide."
"The inclusion of this wonderful high school choir is part of our educational outreach program," Deb Baur, Chorale CEO has said. Mary Purdy, who is the choral director at Canyon High School as well as the Santa Clarita Master Chorale's associate director helped make the special appearance of the Canyon High School Concert Choir possible. "From Bach to Broadway" has the same theme as the Chorale's first-ever performance last June. The success of last year's concert, with its wide range of music is what motivated Chorale organizers to put together a similar program this year. Jeff Mathias, a first tenor with the Chorale said that he thinks "Bach to Broadway" illustrated the "caliber that the ensemble was capable of" but that it's just a milestone for the Chorale to improve upon.
"I believe the Chorale has done better due to the increase in its size and popularity," Mathias said.
He also said the Chorale's success is due in part to a number of things, including excellent, directors, staff and the musical accompanist. "The dedication of the members of the Chorale is also crucial, as well as the general community support for something of this nature," he said.
Mathias said he also thinks the Chorale's success has been so swift because "the wonderful job the directors did choosing pieces that meshed well together." Under Pocock's direction, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale received standing ovations at its two previous concerts - "'Tis the Season" and "A German Requiem."
Pocock, who is the current National President of the Choral Conductors Guild, holds a Masters and Doctorate Degree in music from USC. The artistic director has also had a distinguished career in his homeland of Australia as well as the United States.
The talented bunch make for an appealing combination of talent, experience and heartfelt devotion to Chorale music, that has garnered continued support from the Santa Clarita community.
"People can relate to the music because they are familiar to the pieces that were chosen. The wide range of sounds work well together," Mathias said.
Mathias has been a member of the Santa Clarita Master Chorale for more than a year.
He said that this recent merger with the students at Canyon High School was a perfect example of the lengths the Chorale will go to share their love of music education with the community.
"It was a wonderful experience to perform with the younger group and it was nice to see the love they have for music. They are our future," Mathias said.
May, 2000 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita, p. 153)
Master Chorale Raises Requiem to New Heights
March 27, 2000, Santa Clarita, CA – For the second concert in its exciting inaugural season, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale recently presented Johannes Brahms' beloved work, A German Requiem. With its 48 wonderfully blended voices, and supported by chamber orchestra, timpani and organ, the Chorale provided a deeply satisfying and soul-stirring musical performance.
From the very first note of the Requiem, the audiences sensed that a truly special musical journey had begun. It was apparent that the singers loved the Requiem and were thrilled to present it. Their musicality, conviction, and facial expressions all reflected the intent and mood of the music. Engaged in music-making, the singers likewise engaged the audience. The Chorale's rich sound, soaring vocal and instrumental lines, excellent ensemble, and the genius of the work itself captured and held the audience's interest throughout the concert. Even the many school-age children in attendance were captivated. The two capacity crowds expressed their delight and appreciation in the performance with standing ovations.
The Master Chorale, which has the ability to leave audiences breathless with its soft singing, can also thrill with a sound much larger and stronger than one would expect. In its performance of the Requiem, audiences experienced the Chorale's wide range of dynamics. Under the expert guidance of Artistic Director Peter Pocock, intense, soft dynamics swelled into or contrasted with healthy, exhilarating forte passages, and a full-bodied sound was present throughout the dynamic range. In the second movement of the Requiem, for example, the lower voices presented a haunting theme which was punctuated by timpani, "For mortal flesh is as the grass. . . " This theme slowly increased in dynamic intensity until the full choir was singing a dramatic forte. In typical Romantic style, the dynamic was relaxed but the intensity retained. The change in dynamics, coupled with the pulsing of the timpani, enabled one almost to see the grave open and to feel propelled by the marching of time to face one's own mortality.
One of the numerous challenges in performing a work of this magnitude is being able to sing with a purity of vocal tone throughout the vocal range. The Requiem's general vocal range is especially high for sopranos and tenors. What a pleasure it was to hear a group of sopranos sing their highest notes clearly and consistently, right on pitch! Likewise, the tenors sang their ascending vocal lines with a lovely, unstrained lyrical tone. The smooth, mellow sound of the altos and the warm vocal quality of the basses were present throughout their extended vocal ranges as well.
With conviction and poise, Daniel Cardwell, a young lyrical baritone, presented his solos in movements three and six. The fugal sections of these movements, as sung by the Chorale, were nothing short of spiritual moments.
A highlight of the performance was soprano soloist Desirée Hassler's rendition of movement five, "You Now Are Sorrowful." Her angelic voice combined a shimmering brilliance with lyric warmth. In addition to Ms. Hassler's wonderful sense of pitch and line, her voice brought, as the text proclaims, "comfort" to the audience.
To the very end of the Requiem, the singers maintained focus, energy, and stamina--quite a feat for any choir presenting such a demanding work. Congratulations are due this outstanding new Chorale on its musical growth and high quality of performance. What a gift the Chorale brings to the Santa Clarita Valley! Peter Pocock's excellent leadership combined with the talents of the singers and instrumentalists made for a superlative performance. Johannes Brahms himself would have been pleased.
January, 2000 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
Master Chorale Enchants Listeners
with Holiday Concerts
Santa Clarita, CA, December 14, 1999 - True to the promise of its exciting debut performances last June, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale gave its listeners another program of outstanding music last week. This time it was a holiday season concert program again presented at the Valencia United Methodist Church under the distinguished direction of Dr. Peter Pocock. Performing to sold-out houses on both nights, the Chorale delighted and moved its listeners with a repertoire that spanned centuries and moods, expressing the many aspects of the Christmas spirit.
Beautiful, enchanting music was the hallmark of the evening. The concert began with Benjamin Britten’s lovely Ceremony of Carols, sung by the women of the Chorale with soprano soloist Leslie Garman; followed by Franz Beibl’s Ave Maria performed by the men with soloists John Daly, Wally Purdy and Daniel Cardwell. Anton Bruckner’s Ave Maria and Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium, both performed by the whole group, expressed the mystery and wonder of the Nativity. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming created the magic aura of expectancy, while O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, the traditional French Advent hymn, featuring viola soloist Jacqui Ewart, captured the spiritual longing of the ancient Israelites.
The surprise delight of the evening was the Hodie by Z. Randall Stroope. Joined by brass, timpani, percussion and organ, the choir exultantly sang the three distinctive movements that celebrate the joy of Christ’s birth. Lively exuberance marked the final group of numbers, the Wassail Song of Gloucestershire arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams, African Noel, and the traditional farewell number, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
Newly appointed Associate Director Mary Purdy demonstrated both ability and personal charisma as she led the audience in its participation with the Chorale in grand, stirring arrangements of two favorite traditional carols, O Come, All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World. Accompanist Ann Moore demonstrated her exceptional talent on both piano and organ. Instrumentalists who added verve and body to the musical evening included John Fumo, David Johns, Craig Mohr and Christian Leukert, trumpets; Alex Isles, Kevin Bradley and Andy Malloy, trombones; Ross Deroche, tuba; Paul Sternhagen, timpani; Marie Matson and Tina Curtis, percussion.
But it was the encore number, Silent Night, which quite literally held the audience spellbound. The Chorale, with the support of Amy Shulman on the harp, Ann Moore at the piano and alto soloist Marilyn Hackett, presented this dearest of all carols with the inexpressible beauty and peace for which it is justly loved.
Spontaneous comments after the concert demonstrate the impact of the evening’s music on its listeners better than any reviewer’s assessment. “I liked this performance even better than the first concert!” “Marvelous. They have sung my favorites.” “Great choral group.” “Moved to tears.” “Silent Night has given me peace.” “What a range of dynamics and expression!” Clearly, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale offered a wonderfully satisfying concert for its audience.
Monday, August 2, 1999, (The Signal) p. A6
It’s all about soul food
“Tremendous” was the word that came to me when the Santa Clarita Master Chorale’s first piece, “Zadok the Priest,” was performed. It was their premier concert. It was the one I wouldn’t have missed for the world. After my feeble audition and my sharing it with you, I became their #1 documented fan; an honor, indeed. It was truly an honor to be sitting on the softly cushioned pew of the United Methodist Church listening to the professional voice of its 38 members and the fabulous orchestra and pianist that accompanied it. And they were led under the superior direction of my new best friend, Dr. Peter Pocock.
And, no, I couldn’t stop the flow of tears during their medley from Les Miserables. The music was so heavenly, so touching, so awesome. It was spiritual food. And I came to believe that the melodies I heard were coming from magnificent voices of angels. For they were certainly that and so much more.
Joan Warden is a Valencia resident.
July 1999, p. 40-41 (The Magazine of Santa Clarita)
Santa Clarita Master Chorale Debut Electrifying
June 10, 1999, Santa Clarita, California - In its premier performances last weekend, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale more than lived up to its promise to provide musical performances of the highest quality. Under the masterful direction of Artistic Director Dr. Peter Pocock, the 38-voice Chorale presented a rich and varied repertoire of demanding compositions in two evening performances at the Valencia United Methodist Church.
From the first electrifying notes of Handel’s Zadok the Priest to the last sweet strains of its encore, Danny Boy, the Chorale held its near-capacity audiences in the palm of its hand. For nearly two hours, listeners followed the singers from Beethoven, Bach and Mozart through haunting spirituals, lively folk tunes and a touching medley of songs from the highly popular Broadway musical Les Miserables. Richly melodic operatic selections from Wagner, Offenbach and Mascagni rounded out the evening.
The performances were enhanced by the Chorale’s outstanding soloists: Heidi Best, Michael Best, Jeff Bringle, Nylea Butler-Moore, Jill Hackett, Marilyn Hackett, Desiree Hassler, Cara Kowalczyk, Pat Moynihan and James McCullough; all of whom demonstrated beautiful voices and exceptional musicianship. Accompanying the Chorale in several numbers and enriching the musical experience was an eight-piece chamber ensemble under the able leadership of concertmaster David Ewart. Accompanist Ann Moore demonstrated both brilliance and sensitivity.
Founded just a year ago by two Valencia residents, Deb Baur and Jill Hackett, who saw the need for a high-quality choral group in Santa Clarita and the surrounding communities, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale is composed of skilled singers chosen through discriminating auditions. Artistic Director Peter Pocock, who is also National President of the Choral Conductors Guild and Director of Music Ministries at Valencia United Methodist Church, is originally from Australia, where he conducted the City of Sydney Choir and the Sydney Male Choir. With only three months of rehearsals, Pocock melded his talented singers into a first-rate ensemble. The results were evident to all who heard them in last week’s performances.
June 11, 1999 (The Signal)
Chorale has Stellar Premiere
By Patti Finley and Debora Wait, Escape Guest Critics
June 11, 1999 – The Santa Clarita Master Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Peter Pocock, performed a stunning debut concert last Friday and Saturday at the Valencia United Methodist Church. The 38-voice chorale was selected only three and one-half months ago and Artistic Director Peter Pocock has assembled an amazing group of talented artists whose voices produce a breathtaking sound.
The Chorale performed a broad range of repertoire in this debut performance, using effective programming, which was interesting, varied and entertaining, with something to appeal to everyone. In his program notes, Pocock stated, “When decided on tonight’s concert program, I chose to present choral works covering different styles and periods ranging from the 18th Century (Bach, Handel and Mozart), to an old story set to new music by Claude-Michel Schonberg (”Les Miserables”). I hope that you will find one piece tonight that particularly touches and uplifts you.” That wish became a reality Friday evening.
The premiere program took the audience on a musical tour of composers from 1685 to the present. From baroque to spirituals, from American folk songs to contemporary musical theatre, from oratatios to opera, each selection was outstanding. The program opened with a powerful fortissimo in “Zadok the Priest” from “Coronation Anthem No. 1” by George Frideric Handel. This piece was an excellent choice in literature for introducing the choral sound of this exciting new chorale. A rich blend of exceptional voices (all of whom are local residents) filled the acoustically perfect sanctuary.
The first half of the program included choral favorites from the baroque, classical, romantic and impressionistic periods. The group performed a capella three traditional spirituals arranged by a leading authority in African-American music, Alice Parker, featuring soloist contralto Pat Moynihan. This was followed by excellent arrangements of three American folk songs, including Pocock’s favorite inspirational piece, “Shenandoah,” featuring soprano Jill Hackett. Also in this section were “I’m Goin’ Away” and the challenging arrangement of “Cindy” by Mack Wilberg with four-handed piano accompaniment by Ann Moore and Jill Hackett.
It was the “Dona Nobis Pacem” from “Mass in B Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach that distinctly displayed the chorale’s achievement in tone quality and balance within each section of the choir. Delicate themes were sensitively sung with exquisite dynamics and phrasing in both the forte and piano sections of the music. “Laudate Dominum” by Wolfgang A. Mozart featured a lovely solo by Mezzo-soprano Cara Kowalczyk.
The angelic sound of the women singing Franz Schubert’s “Gott Ist Mein Hirt” (The Lord Is My Shepherd) was particularly impressive. The “Hallelujah Chorus” from “The Mount of Olives” by Ludwig von Beethoven featured the versatility of accompanist Ann Moore on the organ supporting a dynamic sound from the chorale.
The thrilling medley from the Broadway musical “Les Miserables” in the second half of the program featured soloists contraltos Marilyn Hackett and Nylea Butler-Moore, tenor Jeff Bringle, and bass James McCullough. Opera selections highlighted the exquisite tone quality of the men in the “Pilgrim’s Chorus” from “Tannhauser” by Richard Wagner and Jacques Offenbach’s “Barcarolle” from “The Tales of Hoffman” displayed the exceptional voices of soprano Heidi Best and contralto Nylea Butler-Moore. The final piece, Regina Coeli (Easter Hymn) from “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni featured the beautiful voice of soprano Desiree Hassler and immediately brought the audience to its feet for a standing ovation. Music lovers were then treated to a moving encore piece, a favorite of Pocock’s. “Danny Boy” was performed by the choir with an outstanding tenor solo performed by Mike Best.
Although they were not listed in the program, we felt we would be remiss in not mentioning the excellent musicians who embellished this performance. David Ewart, violinist, served as concertmaster, with Barbara Porter, Leslie Woodbury and Kgong Zhang completing the violin section. Jacqui Ewart played viola with Joyce Geeting on cello. Dan Ackerman played trumpet and Paul Sternhagen was timpanist. Accompanist Ann Moore, was extraordinary.
This new chorale states that their purpose is to ensure the highest musical standards while providing a new cultural opportunity to residents of the Santa Clarita Valley. The attendance and enthusiasm for this premiere concert was proof that quality music and high standards are valued by this community.
Wait is the choir director at Valencia High School. Finley sings real good on the Canyon Theatre Guild stage and with Vibe Performing Arts Studios.
March 30, 1999 (The Signal)
Letters to the Editor
"I enjoyed Joan Warden's sense of humor in "My audition with the Master Chorale" (The Signal, 3/24/99). Auditions for this new choral group were indeed very demanding and less than half of those who tried out were accepted. This is indicative not only of the determination of the director, Peter Pocock, to develop a first class chorale here in Santa Clarita, but also of the remarkable pool of talent available in and around the Santa Clarita Valley . . ."
March 24, 1999 (The Signal)
My audition with the Master Chorale:
Commentary by Joan Warden
"Please celebrate me home," sings Kenny Loggins. Actually, I was singing along with him and sounding oh so well, I thought. This has been my Kenny two-week overdose of his greatest hits. I like him because he’s someone I can sing with. Not too high and not too low. Just right. He’s the person I practiced with before I put myself through what was one of the most embarrassing fiascos of my life: My audition with the Santa Clarita Master Chorale.
If you see my buddy-girl Holly walking around with black and blue bruises, you’ll know I beat her. How she talked me into this is easy. Sometimes I don’t have a brain in my head. And letting her talk me into something I don’t really care if I’m a part of or not was just plain stupidity by me. Just because she’s a dynamite singer doesn’t mean I am.
But I do love music. And I do need to be uplifted. So that’s why I did it.
Music has always been a big part of my life. I recall as a child listening in with delight to a record my mom made. Our record player, then our stereo was always turned on full blast. We were either singing to Elvis or Johnny Mathis or Brenda Lee or Connie Francis, or someone.
And, yes, there were piano lessons. And, no, I never practiced like I should have, so lost interest after three years. But I do remember sitting in the Methodist church playing my recital piece with my back toward the audience. This suited me just fine. Then there was my stint with the band. Played clarinet. And, no, I was no Kenny G. Again, did I ever practice? Don’t think so. Was too darn lazy. But I got by and was first seat for quite a while. By high school time I was burned out with the band. It was really the conductor I didn’t care for. He was too mean for me. I quit and headed to the choir and enjoyed it immensely.
As a teenager I dreamed of being a singer. Not that I had much talent. Not that I had any guts to get out there and do it. Not that I had one clue about how to go about such an undertaking when I came to Hollywood. It was just a daydream, let’s face it. Did have the pleasure a year ago of singing with the COC choir. Beautiful melodies for the holiday season. It was truly a spiritual experience. And I had intended to go back, as I really must wear that black lacy dress more than once.
"Let me hear you sing," said the executioner. I mean the auditioner. I believe he actually wanted me to sing the notes while he was playing them. "I can’t hear what you’re playing," I said. I’m used to the pianists playing the notes first. Letting me hear them so I can get the feel of what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Then I sing my oohs, aaahs and uhhhs. Not with this nice gentleman. He wanted me to jump right in there with him. I knew I was doomed from the get-go. "Now let’s hear the piece you brought," he said. "I haven’t practiced this song," I told him. "Don’t know how it’s going to sound." Had found the easiest song I could find. "Day By Day" from Godspell. Only three words to remember. If I goof up, it won’t be that bad. Turns out I was going faster than the wind. I know I was ahead of the pianist Lisa by about three bars. Was relieved when it was all over.
"Now go to the larger sheet music, and this is where you’ll read by sight," he said. Looked at that sheet music. Which group was alto now? Sorry, it’s been a while. As easy as these notes were, a couple of D’s, some E’s, some G’s, for the life of me I couldn’t remember how they sounded without first hearing them.
"I really can’t read this," I told the nice man. "I have to hear it first." "We’ll call you in two weeks," was his reply.
From the look on his face, I think I know the answer to this one. Don’t bother. But my heart won’t be broken if I’m not accepted. I’ll go to their concerts, and let them entertain me. Think I’ll just stay away from the choir groups. Discovered I may be a person who needs to stay solo.
Joan Warden is a Valencia resident