After our Love is in the Air concert I heard a lot of positive feedback from concert-goers, and so I asked the choristers if they had any favorite moments or memories from the concert that they wanted to share.
“I had a blast singing in the concert. I had two friends come to the concert from Mississagua and they both have sung in a concert choir – Belle Arte – for many years. They loved the tone quality of our choir, especially the men! Go guys!”
“For me, my favourite memory was the combination of splendid narration of the sonnets (with a touch of humour thrown in), the teasing, saucy piano accompaniment of Shearing and the tight chords within the choir. Specifically, It Was a Lover and His Lass epitomizes this for me. One patron said to me that he so enjoyed the music, because the jazz standards were what he grew up on and hearing them live was very special.”
(Curious? Hear the JMU University Chorus sing It Was a Lover and His Lass, below.)
“I had fun movin and groovin!”
“A friend dropped in and said she couldn’t go past my house without stopping to tell me how much she enjoyed the concert (she has been to almost all of our concerts for several years). Here are her comments:
Choir – beautiful sound and blend; Loved the way the choir was moving with the music – looked to be really enjoying themselves; All three groups were really in sync with one another; Quartet (After Four) had beautiful sound; Didn’t want the performance to end – could have listened to 24 encores.”
Michelle Lynne Goodfellow is KSS’ Director of Communications.
I showed up early for the KSS Love is in the Air concert to take some behind-the-scenes photos, and make sure I remembered how to work the video camera that KSS uses to create archive recordings of its concerts. The audience always shows up early, and the anticipation in the room was high as patrons waited for the concert to begin.
I slipped backstage to check on the singers. They were assembling to warm up before the show.
Meanwhile the choir’s librarian was sorting extra music that singers had already turned in.
Karen warmed up the singers, and then began the pre-concert routine of reminding everyone which aspects of each song to focus on.
Instead of their usual formal concert dress, the choir wore casual black, with red ties or scarves, for their evening of jazz.
Back in the church sanctuary, announcer David Burghardt warmed up the audience.
And the concert began.
Each half of the program opened with a set of Shakesperean songs and sonnets set by jazz legend George Shearing. Before each piece was sung, local theatrical talents David Wasse and Bronwyn Powell read the poem aloud. This married couple’s interpretations of Shakespeare’s words had the audience enthralled and entertained.
Special guests After Four (left to right: Jenny Nauta, Dave Williams, Theresa Wallis and Ron Nauta) got toes tapping with their swinging, scat-filled versions of jazz standards and popular songs arranged by the talented Ron Nauta.
After Four even joined KSS for a few numbers, including the energetic Blue Skies, which closed the first half of the program.
I was eagerly anticipating the only non-jazz piece on the program – Eric Whitacre’s This Marriage. Karen had chosen it months ago, before she settled on the jazz format for the concert, and couldn’t bear to cut it from the program. I’m glad she left it in; I’d heard the song ahead of time on YouTube, and was deeply touched by the lyrics and harmonies. Set to poetry by the Sufi mystic Rumi, it brought tears to my eyes when I finally heard it performed by KSS.
May these vows and this marriage be blessed. May it be sweet milk, this marriage, like wine and halvah. May this marriage offer fruit and shade like the date palm. May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day a day in paradise. May this marriage be a sign of compassion, a seal of happiness here and hereafter. May this marriage have a fair face and a good name, an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky. I am out of words to describe how spirit mingles in this marriage.
I was especially awestruck by how Whitacre finished the song with sung ahhs and ooo’s – an interesting interpretation of the final line. See Whitacre himself conducting another performance of the piece (sung by the Ole Miss Concert Singers), below.
One of the highlights of the evening for some of our patrons, I’m sure, was when the audience got to participate in the final song (Sing, Sing, Sing) by snapping along in rhythm, conducted by Karen.
Our next concert, River! (Saturday, May 29, 2010), celebrates the Thames, and will feature the world premiere of a new song commissioned by KSS, composed by Londoner Jeff Smallman.
Michelle Lynne Goodfellow is the KSS Director of Communications
“This is not the first time I have enjoyed a rich and stimulating evening with the Karen Schuessler Singers, nor will it be the last. This evening’s performance however was particularly thematically dear to my heart owing to my great love of Shakespeare’s plays, many of which I have myself directed. In this concert, entitled Love is in the Air!, Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets are performed, brilliantly set to music by jazz master Sir George Shearing. In addition to the choir, Londons’ local jazz quartet After Four sang love songs from several eras incorporating diverse styles of singing. Choral work in Jazz style is my idea of heaven and I was not disappointed.”
Read the rest of the review by Cheryl Cashman, here.
Wondering what’s on the program of the upcoming KSS concert, Love is in the Air? See the song list, below. To read about the singers’ favorite pieces, click here.
All the Things You Are (Jerome Kern, arr. Ron Nauta) A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (Maschwitz/Sherwin, arr. Gene Puerling) Blue Skies (Irving Berlin, arr. Steve Zegree) Call Me (Tony Hatch, arr. Ron Nauta) I Got Rhythm (George Gershwin, arr. Christopher Clapham) I Will (Lennon/McCarthy, arr. Dan Davison) Love is Here to Stay (George Gershwin, arr. Kirby Shaw) Lullaby of Birdland (George Shearing) Send in the Clowns (Stephen Sondheim, arr. Darmon Meader) Sing, Sing, Sing (Louis Prima, arr. Darmon Meader) Songs and Sonnets (George Shearing) Taking a Chance on Love (Duke/Latouche/Fetter, arr. Darmon Meader) Tangerine (Victor Schertzinger) This Marriange (Eric Whitacre) Thousand Things (Anders Edenroth) You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Stevie Wonder, arr. Ron Nauta) You Made Me Love You (Monaco/McCarthy, arr. Carl Strommen)
Some comments on the program from Artistic Director and conductor Karen:
“I’m really excited about our next concert. It is pure delight! Taking a Chance on Love, Love is Here to Stay, You Made Me Love You… What could be more enjoyable than swinging jazz arrangements of love standards performed by KSS and the incomparable London vocal jazz quartet, AFTER FOUR?
“And not only that, but sonnets of the Bard given that special George Shearing treatment – sweet, stylish and sophisticated. Every week the choir tells me how much fun they are having working on this music. And of course, the band is second to none with Steve Holowitz on piano, Steve Clark on bass and Greg Mainprize on drums. It will be an evening of captivating rhythms and smooth harmonies.
William Shakespeare’s beautiful sonnets set to music by the incomparable jazz master, Sir George Shearing, help to set the classy tone of this special tribute to that universal affliction – love! The choir and special guests, London vocal jazz quartet After Four, will explore love in its many forms, in various musical styles, including a work by choral sensation Eric Whitacre.
Visit this space often for a wealth of background information, research and interviews about our upcoming concerts, as well as cool stuff that we've found on the Internet related to music and choral singing.
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