From the President (Nov. 22, 2009)

Dear Colleagues,

I am sure that all of us are glad to be on to Thanksgiving week and an extended vacation of sorts. I am equally sure that most of us have just completed a very busy week, with the week after Thanksgiving bringing the onset of performances and auditions. However, can you believe that it is just about a month until Christmas vacation!

I am just back from a concert of the Castleton State College Collegiate Chorale and Chamber Singers under the direction of Sherrill Blodget, the Director of Choral Activities at the college and also our R & S Chair for Community Choirs. It was really a terrific concert, and I thought I might tell you a little about it? The program was as follows………

Collegiate Choral

Siyahamba……………………….Traditional South African
Jabula Jesu………………………arr. Stephen Hatfield
Gaelic Blessing………………….John Rutter
Wassail Song…………………….arr. R. Vaughan Williams

Chamber Singers

Throw The Yule Log On Uncle John…….Peter Schikele
Hodie Christus Natus Est…………………..Francis Poulenc
Bogoroditse Devo……………………………Sergei Rachmaninov
Deck The Halls in 7/8……………………….arr. James McKelvy

Combined Groups

Mass #2 in G Major…………………………Franz Schubert
Betelehemu…………………………………..arr. Barrington Brooks

Both groups presented themselves in a very professional manner in both concert dress and demeanor. The choirs were well prepared and performed completely from memory, with the exception of the Schubert Mass, which of course was done with score in hand. The Schubert was accompanied by a small orchestra of 14 individuals which was more than sufficient for the task at hand. The African selections were accompanied by a talented percussion ensemble of 5 individuals.

These students took obvious pride in their work, as well they should! These groups exhibited good intonation and diction and were well aware of the subtleties of the choral art. The first four selections were exciting and rhythmic, expressive and a pleasure to listen to. The Chamber Singers (a select auditioned group of 24) were very good, with a solid bass section of 5 that most of us would love to have in our choirs! Very good tenors, and the women were excellent. The Poulenc (arguably the most difficult selection on the program) was well done, with crisp diction and rhythmic precision. The Rachmaninov (as you know, it is the “Ave Maria” from his “Vespers”) was very well done and quite expressive. This group is capable of excellent music-making, and I hope to hear them again soon!

The Schubert Mass in G, a perennial favorite in the repertoire, was well done by the 56 voice Collegiate Chorale. I was very impressed with the soloists; soprano Suzanne Kantorski-Merrill, baritone Daniel Klein and tenor John Matthew Myers. These voices were impressive, worked well in consort with each other and were top drawer. I enjoyed every note of each of these singers, and would love to hear more from each of them!

I am not a music critic, nor do I pretend to be, but my intent here is to give yet another example of the outstanding choral work that is going on in our state. Here is a small state college in the southern part of our state that is doing excellent work, and they had ‘ought to be recognized for it! If I have any criticism, it would be that the audience, in my mind, was not nearly responsive enough for my taste, considering the quality of the performance. Each selection deserved far more applause than was offered; I found myself always being the last one to stop! I truly believe that a standing ovation was deserved at the end; not just for the quality of the performance but also for the collective effort of these students. Alas, it was not offered….a
missed opportunity by the almost full house to show how proud they were of their college’s work.

It is also comforting (?) to see that some of the same things happen in Castleton as in Burlington; the occasional cellophane wrapper being opened at the exactly wrong time, and a bottle on the floor kicked over at an unfortunate moment. There should be a law!!

Congrtulations to Sherrill Blodget and her Castleton Singers! This program is going places!

Most Sincerely,

Frank Whitcomb

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