William Adams, DMA
We go to concerts to experience music in the moment. The unpredictability of a live performance is always exciting for both the performers and the audience. If we need to hear “perfection” in music, we listen to recordings that have been edited and tuned and manipulated or we hear only the upper 1% of professional artists when they tour our area. This is not to imply that presenting a concert when you’re unprepared is acceptable; of course, not. It is only to say that the magic of a live performance is, and hopefully always will be, an experience we should always cherish.
What we want to see and hear, then, are musicians who are committed to creating an experience for their audience. Programs that are thought provoking, tell a story, take us on a journey are always more interesting. Oak City Voices is striving to do exactly that. According to their Artistic Director, Russell McKinney, this program started out to explore “Night and Day” but quickly focused into an exploration of the night and, more specifically, the moon.
We were offered an “Invitation to Love” (Kevin Nicoletti) and then brought into a scene of winter evenings, from twilight to full moons. This series of lullabies culminated in Eric Whitacre’s “Goodnight Moon.” Our evening then took an unexpected turn. Awakened by an alley cat (“Alley Cat Love Song” — Paul Carey), we were taken on a brief exploration of a different kind of nightlife and what the moon can represent. It isn’t often, one assumes, that Whitacre’s “Goodnight Moon” is programmed on the same concert as Burton Lane’s “Old Devil Moon.”
Oak City Voices is a women’s chorus of about 25 singers. They sang with a full, big sound, impressively avoiding the common pitfall of under-singing and treating too preciously these lullabies. Their tone was full and engaged but they still sang gently and conveyed tenderness. Special recognition should be afforded to Carol Doyle who not only sang soprano with the ensemble but provided a flute solo for “The Night Shall be Filled With Music.” The acoustics were a bit challenging and the flute was sometimes a bit lost in the texture but this is more to be attributed to the scoring and not the player. Ms. Doyle’s tone and presence with the flute were quite good, but the range of the solo was often in the mid to lower registers where the flute doesn’t always project well.
Mandi Goswami and Amanda Northrup had brief solo moments that were delivered with excellent character and humor. Corinne Kadlec offered a lovely, light, lyrical soprano solo over the more intricate textures of Whitacre’s “Goodnight Moon.”
This was a challenging and engaging program. Congratulations are due for an ensemble that is only seven years old (and two of those spent in a pandemic) to be out and presenting thoughtful, engaging, and entertaining concerts.