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By Steven Lieberman
Observer Reporter 

Los Angeles Master Chorale Excels In Holiday Concert

 

December 22, 2014



Grant Gershon, esteemed Artistic Director/Conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC), filled the Walt Disney Concert Hall with his passion and joy as they presented their annual holiday concerts.

He channeled his un-rivaled enthusiasm during the LAMC’s presentation of “Festival of Carols” on December 13 and Handel’s Messiah on December 21.

The LAMC rung in the holiday season with a concert of favorite carols sung by one of the greatest chorales in the world. Sprinkled with new arrangements (three by composer in residence Shawn Kirchner) and traditional Christmas songs of the season, including one “Chanukah Suite,” this “festive” concert, an LA tradition, put audience members in a good mood.

The 115-member Chorale was accompanied by accomplished organist John West and pianist Lisa Edwards. West inspired all 6000 pipes to fill Disney Hall with a glorious sound along with the wonderful voices of the exceptionally capable chorus.

From “Hark the Herald Angles Sing” to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

The audience even got to sing-along to “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” in which Santa made a surprise cameo appearance and conducted the chorus as Gershon stepped down to join in with the singers.

Messiah is one of the greatest, if not the greatest chorale composition of all time (next to Bach’s Mass in B Minor), and Gershon’s interpretation of Handel’s masterpiece created a transcendent experience for all in attendance. The marriage of Handel and Gershon’s joyful baton conveyed a stream of harmonic fluidity that seemed to trump all of the chorale’s past annual performances.

It’s also most amazing that it took Handel only 24 days to compose it.

Gershon enlisted the services of four soloists hand-picked from the Chorale, but it was tenor Arnold Livingston Geis and mezzo soprano Nike St. Clair that were the bright spots. Their voices seemed to clearly resonate throughout the acoustically-sound Disney Hall. A hall that was creatively decorated with silver snowflakes dangling from the ceiling and special lighting that created a snow-like effect on the walls.

The 48-member Chorale, accompanied by the chamber orchestra, sang the chorus parts with a synergetic blend that created a chemistry that I’m sure made Handel smile. From the majestic “Hallelujah” to a soaring “The Trumpet shall sound,” the audience members’ spirits were lifted and “raised.”

 

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