It was practically impossible for the Examiner not to feel the spirit of the season, considering that this writer reviewed seven holiday performing arts events prior to seeing the final two of the year. One was the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus’ “Dash Away All” held on Friday, Dec. 18, and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir’s “Sounds of the Season” concert on Saturday, Dec. 19. Herein are reviews.
“Dash Away All”
Prior to the start of the annual Indianapolis Men’s Chorus concert, an unexpected and somewhat dramatic moment occurred. It came in the form of what appeared to be smoke emanating from the stage which proceeded to fill Marian University Theatre, thereby setting off a fire alarm and causing the audience to orderly vacate the building. However, ten minutes or so later, the good natured crowd returned to the hall after it was determined that haze from a smoke machine was the culprit and that there was no existing danger. Once the crowd was settled, the concert began with a welcome by IMC artistic director Greg Sanders who made reference to the scare by joking that the chorus had been backstage “roasting chestnuts over an open fire.”
Sanders’ lighthearted comment set the tone for a concert that once again, showcased the multi-talents of a singing group, now in its 26th season, that Sanders has transformed from a traditional chorus with members standing stationary with books in hand, to one that entails more production and is thus more theatrical.
Adding to the concert’s theatricality, not to mention its entertainment value, was the addition of a four piece band that included D.J. Smith on piano, Kurt Von Schakel on organ, Cliff Kimmerling on bass, and Cameron Bailey on drums.
The IMC singers, dressed in white dinner jackets, accessorized with red pocket squares and wearing scarfs around their necks performed classic holiday songs during Act 1 which included “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride,” and a finale which included “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Deck the Halls,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Anne Beck’s choreography in “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” highlighted Act 1 during which five members of the IMCSwing group dressed in military costumes tap danced. Despite the fact that one of the dancers was often out of step, it was not enough to mar the entire number which, in the end, was quite delightful.
Ethan Butt, an IMCSwing member, also stood out in Act 1’s “Snow Sequence” during which he displayed loads of showmanship in “In Summer.”
Inspiring Act 2 selections included “There Shall a Star” from “Cristus” by Felix Mendelssohn, “There is Faint Music,” and “What Child is This.”
Turning in an outstanding performance was first tenor Jason Fishborn who magnificently soloed in “O Holy Night.”
Act 2 for this reviewer was the more appealing half of the concert because it more effectively showed off not only the superior vocal qualities of the IMC singers but also the impeccable technique and superb artistry of the ensemble itself.
Thanks to top Indy lighting designer, Laura Glover, the concert’s production values reflected a caliber that matches the IMCs mostly professional quality. Unfortunate however, was the amplification of the chorus which compromised its sound and seemed unnecessary.
Overall, the IMC’s holiday concert which has become an LGTB community tradition was entertaining, often affecting and most importantly, uplifting.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus 2015-2016 season, visit indianapolismenschorus.org.
“Sounds of the Season”
Who can resist the sound of children singing? Especially if they are members of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, celebrating 30 years as one of the preeminent children’s choirs in the U.S. and known throughout the world.
The mammoth St. Luke’s United Methodist Church was the venue for the “Sounds of Season,” one of four concerts presented by the Indianapolis Children’s Choir on Dec. 18 and 19. The concert seen by this reviewer took place at 3 p.m. on the 19th.
And who can possibly resist children’s voices during the holiday season which, with its magic and wonder, brings out the child in us all? For the Examiner, there was no resistance at all as this writer easily succumbed to the purity and innocence of the talented singers who range from 4th to 12th graders.
Five of the nine that comprise the ICC choirs which performed in “Sounds of Season,” were led by conductors Ruth E. Dwyer, Joshua Pedde and ICC founder, Henry Leck, who is retiring at the end of this season.
Accompanying the poised singers were musicians that included pianists, a percussionist, an organist, a flutist, and a brass quintet, all of whom added a sense of grandness and majesty to the proceedings.
The Christmas and holiday songs both familiar and some obscure, sumptuously filled the air of St Luke’s which was crammed with the proud families and friends of ICC singers.
Song selections that stood out included the Kantorei choir in “Or Nous Diets, Marie”; Chamber and Lyric choirs’ touching rendition of “We Sing for the Children”; Kantorei, Chamber and Lyric choirs in the poignant “When You Believe” by Stephen Schwartz from “The Prince of Egypt”; and “Somewhere in my Memory” from the film “Home Alone” performed by the Cantantes Angeli and Bel Canto choirs who also shone in “White Winter Hymn” which featured choreography executed with near perfect synchronized arm and hand movement.
One of the most potent moments during the concert took place when Dwyer conducted the assembled choirs and the entire audience in a robust rendering of “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
The program concluded with all of the choirs combining to intone “Angels.” Joining them were adorable members of the Level 2 Preparatory Choirs first through third graders. Listening to the engaging sounds of these irresistible young singers, one could easily imagine what heaven must be like—such was their sincerity paired with the sweetness and saintliness of their heartfelt vocal expression.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir’s 2015-2016 season visit iccchoir.org.