The Fullerton College Choir created a masterful collaboration of joyful singing as the Fullerton College Chamber Singers and Concert Choir sang alongside their guest choir, Foothill High School Madrigal singers.
The Fall Choral Concert, directed by John Tebay, was a mix of classical, both past and present and spiritual music.The music was advanced and learned in a relatively short period of time.
“I told God, ‘I am a fool.’ I have picked way too hard of music for just the few weeks that we have,” said Tebay. “They [the students] don’t like it if it’s too hard, and then they love it once they learn it.”
The concert began with the Madrigal singers directed by Chelsea Dehn. A highlight of the set was the song, “On a March Day” by Richard Burchard, which was commissioned by the choir after they lost a member a few years ago. The song begins soft and haunting and ends glorious and angelic.
The best performance by the Madrigal Singers was “Water Night” by Eric Whitacre. They were perfectly in tune with beautiful harmonies. It was a delight to the ears.
When the Fullerton College Chamber Singers followed the Madrigal singers, there was a change in the order of the program. The first song chosen “Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz, Op. 29, No. 1” by Johannes Brahms started rather disappointingly.
Before they began to sing, Tebay explained the meaning behind the song stating that it was about David of the Bible going through stages of lament, contrition, repentance and a final return to joy at the end.
The choir seemed to mirror these emotions by accident. Their voices were lacking in strength; all that could be heard were the consonants that were being spoken. With folders in their faces, it made it harder to hear and see them.
By the time they reached the end of the song, however, they had redeemed themselves just as David did and returned to joyfulness. They found a deeper, richer sound and centered themselves creating a joyful noise.
Other high points from the Chamber Singers involved their rich sound and focus on percussion and rhythm.
“O Magnum Mysterium,” by Daniel Elder, was a more modern take on the classic text. The singers executed it rhythmically and harmoniously, like the sound of meditating monks.
“In Your Light” had surprising percussion sections; the first clash of cymbals startled the audience out of the deep sense of peace that the previous song had left them in. The same rhythmic focus from the percussionist could be heard in the the choir’s voices.
“All the percussion in it adds so many dynamics. it’s a lovely piece. It’s a little bit of everything,” said freshman soloist, Kymberlin Martin.
The last piece performed by the Chamber Singers, “Credo from Mass in G minor” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, was the crowning jewel for this group. The choir divided it’s sound into two with another solo choir. Despite the split in voices, the choir’s sound became even stronger. The soloists were unified in their sound, and the choir was varied and lively.
“It requires a lot of attentiveness, and practice and a great choir, which is what we have,” said soloist Michael Morales, on the the “Credo” piece.
The concert choir was impressive for its magnitude of singers, an estimate of more than 60 members. As expected for a group this large, they had a powerful sound and it was remarkable how well they wielded it.
The first song they performed, “Doxologia” by Matthew Maniano, also started with the over-pronunciation of consonants, which must have been a decided stylistic choice. In this selection, it seemed that the effect was meant to convey many people speaking.
One impressive concept of the song was a soprano singing lightly above the other voices coming in and out of range, like the vibrations produced in a glass when a finger slides along around its rim.
Another notable moment from the concert choir came during “Hallelujah” by William David Brown. The choir seemed to have fun with this piece. They really shined and when the final chord burst forth, it was glorious. Many audience and choir members agreed that this was one of their favorites to sing and listen to.
The last song, “My God Is a Rock” by Ily Matthew Maniano, also featured a handful of soloists; the bass, who had a deep, vibrating voice, the tenor, a jazzy, Michael Buble type of voice and the soprano, a high and clear voice. Each shined individually, but as a group, their sound did not mesh as well together as the solo group from the Chamber Singers.
The choir as a whole, however, had a unified power. They loved singing this song, and the audience loved hearing it. It was a great way to end the show.