Change Of Tone
The Camerata Singers deliver a concert of seasonal music that reflects improved sound and tone.
Thursday, December 14, 2000
Noticeable improvements marked John Koza''s Camerata Singers concert at Carmel Mission. The holiday program--a sampler which wandered the world from France to Latvia to Nigeria--was almost free of the pitch problems that have nagged the group over the years. Moreover, a richer, fuller sonority filled the basilica, starting with the robust Masters In This Hall.
These changes reflect techniques that are being implemented by choral conductors more and more. They involve pairing voices that complement one another, and positioning them throughout the entire group. As Koza explains it, "Since the singers are forced to hear the other parts right around them, it helps them stay in tune." It also allows the listener to concentrate on the music instead of the glitches.
Enhancing the choral program were solo works by various composers played on the organ by Stephen Boniface. In other cases, Boniface and a 15-piece orchestra supported the 47-voice chorus. A trio of flute, oboe and bassoon highlighted the charming French carol Il est ne le divin Enfant. Holst''s a cappella arrangement of Lullay my liking spotlighted four solo voices.
Renaissance madrigals and motets have proven unpredictable for local choirs. Last spring, I Cantori had its best success in this style. In this program, however, Victoria''s In festo natalis Domini suffered from a lack of intensity. Not so the following two Spanish pieces. The anonymous Dadme albricias, hijos d''Eva was energized by drums and metal percussion, while Hacia Belen va un borrico, featuring baritone Rod Alfsen, parlayed its folk music roots.
Koza split his chorus in two for an exciting antiphonal display in Praetorius'' arrangement of In dulci jubilo. Bach''s popular cantata Wachet auf was harvested for its three choral movements, the first (and most complex) of which dragged at a sluggish pace.
Local choirs are comprised of mostly amateur singers and music directors are often restricted in their artistic prerogatives. "It''s not my chorus," explains Koza. "It belongs to the board of directors." This, in turn, restricts the critic''s role. Should one chorus be compared with another? Should each chorus be held to its historic highest standards? Should the conductor limit his or her program choices to music that won''t lead to embarrassing results? Or should these programs simply be honored for the effort made, rather than the artistic result?
Happily, one answer is that the Camerata Singers are making a fuller and more accurate case for themselves. Thanks to that, a holiday spirit warmed all present in the mission church.
Cantiamo Cabrillo! Friday, 7pm. Cheryl Anderson conducts seasonal concert featuring Frank Martin''s Mass. Church of the Wayfarer, 7th and Lincoln, Carmel. 786-0565
I Cantori Saturday-Monday, 8pm. Sal Ferrantelli conducts works by J.C. Bach, Brahms, Bruch, Hassler, Haydn, Schütz. Carmel Mission, Rio and Lasuen, Carmel. $20/reserved; $15/general. 655-0869
Monterey Symphony Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 8pm. Kate Tamarkin conducts instrumental and choral program of J.S. Bach, Boyce, Handel, Schubert, Susato, Telemann, Warlock. Friday and Wednesday: Carmel Mission, Rio and Lasuen, Carmel. Tuesday: Sacred Heart, Market and Sloan, Salinas. Advance ticket sales only. Carmel: $40/adults; $20/children under 12. Salinas: $20/adults; $10/children under 12. 624-8511.