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What Others have to say about the Valley Choral Society

The Critic's Aside
Diamond in the Rough

I popped into a dress rehearsal this week of the Valley Choral Society to gage what one might anticipate at this weekend's spring May with the Masters concert. The expected angst over dropped beats and intonation was rampant among chorus and orchestra. Amidst the uproar of the production staff's banging, the rattling of chairs, and the endless rustling exchanges between seats, the artistic director drove the orchestra on with tenacity.

Such pre-concert commotion is normal for any volunteer performance group. Countless movies have devoted themselves to giving mildly interested audiences a backstage glimpse of the easily forgettable pre-performance hubbub. So why comment on the norm?

One unexpected musical jewel surfaced during the roiling turmoil of pre-concert activity.

The orchestra was released for a momentary stretch and water-cooler break while the choir trudged on rehearsing a number in a cappella form. The tight harmonies and attention to dynamics lifted the listener and the choir above the recent chaos into an atmosphere of sweet tranquility and cherished accord.

The assistant artistic director, no stranger to a cappella work and nuance, drew out a finer sound than the choir has exhibited in performance heretofore. (So often choral musicians employ their voices in a useless duel with the orchestral instrumentalist.) Perhaps this choral organization will delight us with a further exploration of the unaccompanied musical landscape; executing, with characteristic excellence, the kind of dynamic prudence required in a cappella performance. Their size belies such an aptitude but they are decidedly capable.

And should one be concerned about the outcome of this weekend's spring concert program, be at ease. This group will undoubtedly match their orchestral comrades. May with the Masters is likely to bring the audience to a level of gratifying enthusiasm. And yet, would that each of you could have been in attendance when these wonderfuly unpretentious voices momentarily transcended, unaccompanied, to an astonishing pinnacle of musical perfection during a not-so-impressive dress rehearsal.

Corbett Fielding (printed by permission. Copyright May, 2005)

The Critic's Aside
CHARACTER or Character

"Uncharacteristically polite and attentive but skillfully prepared, enviously talented, and splendidly musical." So said a venerable music critic of the Brigham Young University Philharmonic Orchestra during dress rehearsal with the Valley Choral Society as the two prepared for their joint concert this past January 15, 2005.

Why would college-aged musicians, with undeniably distinguished music ability behave with such sophistication and refinement when so many of their counterparts in other universities and even renowned musician's unions take the alternate route of snobbery and arrogance?

And no wonder the National American String Teachers Association and National School Orchestra Association invited them to be one of two special-invitation orchestras at "Strings Alive in 2005", the Associations' annual Convention in Reno this February.

This is the kind of musician that will bring audiences back into the concert halls, reinvigorate fading orchestral organizations and soar above the too oft-favored European conceit that many American musicians have sought to exemplify.

If BYU is a front-runner, and they certainly should be, then it is hoped that they will out-distance the flabby, outmoded music departments of too many other colleges and universities; holding a torch of excellence that will draw young musicians from around the world to their music stands.

Not even during the "glory" days of the Sacramento Symphony did such character represent itself in the music hall. Bravo!

Corbett Fielding (printed by special permission. Copyright January 2005)

The Critic's Aside

"If you missed the Valley Choral Society's December 4th and 5th concerts you missed a superb experience. Beginning with the opening strains of Handel's MESSIAH right down to the reverent closing of "Silent Night" concert goers were treated to a brilliant program that ranged from ethereal splendor to exuberant delight. The standing ovation at concert close was not the normal polite ministration music enthusiasts have come to grant but a genuine explosion of appreciation from a capacity crowd. "This was the best of the best" crowed one attendee, "They get better every year" announced another. "Finest Tenor yet" stated a former choir member. This critic was hard pressed to disagree.

If you missed the first two don't miss the December 18th concert."

Corbett Fielding (printed by special permission. Copyright December 2004)

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