Friday, June 26, 2009

Mormon Tablernacle Choir at the Sprint Center

No matter what you may think of the politics and views of their religion, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir certainly deserves its world wide fame. Appearing last night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the choir which traces its origins back to 1847, amazed and delighted the large audience with its diverse program and unparalleled choral sound. 300 voices in a hushed pianissimo, roaring to triple forte in seconds, clockwork movements of hands, incredible diction (the bugaboo of most choirs which turn into muddy masses) and well paced performances are seldom heard from any ensemble.

The program was divided into 8 diverse yet organically flowing sections. The selections were mostly sacred in nature, but a few non-sacred tunes lightened the mood occasionally. Highlights for me were a couple of the "Music of the Masters" selections, the elegant yet exuberant "Gloria in Excelsis Deo from the Mozart Mass in c K 427 and the sweet Cum Sancto Spiritu from the Rossini "Petite Mess Solenelle". "Music of the World" was represented by a rousing Spanish Sephardic song "Ah, el novio no quere dinero", complete with authentic Jewish instruments. A "Danny Boy" with a lovely Irish whistle solo, was a bit of a disappointment, not milking the piece for all its worth... well on second thought, maybe that is a good thing; sappy "Danny Boy" renditions are legion. The world music section was brought to an end by the complex ( I know I have performed it) "Betelehemu" complete with a battery of drums, shouting, and rhythmic movements and clapping. If any piece was a show stopper that was it.

The old Methodist in me appreciated the lovely and subdued "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", demonstrating that the huge choir in a huge arena can be the masters of subtlety an grace. The old folk song "Cindy" (do kids sing that in grade school any more??) was given a lively run and an unnamed soloist wowed the crowd with his soulful "I want Jesus to Walk With Me'.

Of course no Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert would be complete without "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the Latter-day Saints hymn "Come, Come ye Saints", performed with authority.

Sadly, the big arena of the Sprint Center draws a rather less well behaved crowd. The two gentlemen beside me came about 1/2 hour late, talked, fiddled with their damn Iphones, took pictures and even returned late from intermission. The lady behind me thought it was a sing along. The fellow a across the isle crunched on 2 orders of nachos. I guess I just don't look at a concert as a ball game. Thankfully no one took out a lighter and started waving it.

I was glad I took Bruce's suggestion and went to see this institution. If there is finer choral singing around, I have not heard it.

And yes, Puggingham Palace is back.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Those people were too rude for words. Please give HM a hug a kiss from Pugsey and myself :)