In light of last weekend’s big doings for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, we’d like to send a heartfelt congratulations to director Grant Gershon, the LAMC Board and all of this weekend’s performers. LAMC has been a consistent force for excellence and innovation in Los Angeles and well beyond, and this is a milestone that must be marked.
The big weekend included a grand gala and two performances of one of the most monumental works in the repertoire: J.S. Bach’s hallowed B Minor Mass. Although our regular reviewers were unable to attend due to illness or performances of their own, we did manage to send one of our team members, Sherry Hutson, as our “spy on the inside”, and she reports a grand evening of music on Sunday. Her notes are below:
As the choir comes in and takes their places, I see that the ladies have a new concert dress: Black and white, sparkly with sparkles on the shoulder, with a black satin skirt with a sheer black overskirt. They all look fabulous! Once the group is in place, the audience breaks into thunderous applause, with plenty of excitement in the air. Grant came in last — a man on a mission. Without a word or delay he starts the program, and it really set an exciting tone for the performance.
Trumpets opened the Gloria section, and really set a joyous mood. Before the Laudamus te, Grant took a noticeable pause (1 minute?) as if to give it special attention. The section featured Callista Hoffman-Campbell (mezzo) and concertmaster Joel Pargman on violin. Elissa Johnston (soprano) and Jon Lee Keenan (tenor) were a delightful duet on Domine deus.
Nike St. Clair knocked it out of the park! Big, beautiful tone, and great diction. She was featured along with principal oboist Leslie Reed. Baritone Steve Pence sang with good tone and diction on Quoniam tu solus sanctus, but I wanted to hear more — it was as if the volume had been turned down.
After intermission, Et in unum Dominum featured Suzanne Waters (soprano) and Michelle Hemmings (mezzo), who were lively and well-balanced. Vincent Robles (baritone) was good all around on Et in Spiritum sanctum Dominum, and Pablo Cora (tenor) sang Benedictus beautifully. The last soloist, mezzo Janelle DeStefano made me proud to be a mezzo, too.
The choir was in fine form throughout, very responsive to Grant’s direction, executing the many changes in tempo and articulation with precision & grace, and clearly having a good time. The orchestra was very cohesive and had a wonderful sound. There were many more solo opportunities for them than in concerts past as well. Altogether a great evening.