Featuring 60 singers from throughout the Greater Cleveland/Akron metropolitan area, the Laurel Lake Encore Chorale performed two concerts to packed houses at Laurel Lake Retirement Community in Hudson, Ohio this spring, on May 20 & 21, 2013. Each concert with guest instrumentalists included works by “All American” composers and arrangers.
The performance opened with a rousing medley of Irving Berlin tunes, “From Rags to Ritz,” published several years ago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Alexander’s Ragtime Band and including Blue Skies, Won’t You Play A Simple Melody, and Puttin’ On The Ritz. The Chorale sang with energy and style, breezing through the challenging syncopations and fast-moving lyrics, and generally sounding like a show choir on its way to competition (minus the choreography). Laurel Lake fitness instructor Jill Rango, also a professional drummer, added a swingin’ beat with a fantastic drum solo at the end.
The Chorale then delivered flawless performances of Aaron Copland’s complex Simple Gifts and Zion’s Walls, displaying their hard-won mastery of these pieces. The choir’s final 8-part divisi on Zion’s Walls reverberated for several seconds after the cut-off.
A blending of two spirituals, Wade In The Water and Wayfaring Stranger, by John Purifoy; Craig Courtney’s The Staff of Faith with drum and pipes (two flutes); and an uplifting rendition of This Is My Word by Pepper Choplin rounded out the evening.
Special thanks to pianist Ruth Anderson, drummer Jill Rango, and floutists Betty Presti and Amy Hartman for sharing their talents with the Chorale and its audience. We also thank The Laurel Lake Foundation for its grant to help the Chorale purchase music for the season.
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