Monday, December 6, 2010

Vivaldi's Gloria: The Chancel Choir of First Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City

Think Utah.  Think choir.  For most, what comes to mind is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, aka the "Mo Tabs."  Are there other choirs?  Absolutely.

Besides the stunning Cathedral of the Madeleine choir, First Presbyterian Church's Chancel Choir has an impressive collective resume.  And it shows in their performance, one of which I saw last Sunday.  Led by Russ McKinney,bass trombonist for the Utah Symphony, the choir features soloists with music degrees from such places as the New England Conservatory of Music and performing experience in opera, theater, and orchestras throughout the world.  Russ McKinney's name came up in conversation with my son in days past.  Back when he was in high school, one of his friends took lessons from McKinney.  And McKinney's fellow symphony member, Nick Norton, played with the choir.  Norton was one of my son's idols: he plays trumpet as did my son "back in the day."

We were at First Presbyterian last Sunday afternoon to hear Vivaldi's "Gloria," the most widely known of the composer's sacred music. Sung in Latin, Gloria showcased the talents of soloists Camella Canete and Felicia Lundie, mezzo-sporano Gretchen Windt, and oboe player Geralyn Giovannetti.  The choir was neither overwhelming large nor forcefully loud and yet exquisite.  They performed the entire twelve movements of Vivaldi's signature Christmas work:

I. Gloria in excelsis Deo
II. Et in terra pax
III. Laudamus te
IV. Gratias agimus tibi
V. Propter Magnam Gloriam (Chorus
VI. Domine Deus
VII. Domine, Fili unigenite
VIII. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei
IX. Qui tollis peccata mundi
X. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris
XI. Quoniam tu solus sanctus
XII. Cum Sancto Spiritu

It was delicious to immerse in Latin and absorb the late baroque style of music.  An appreciative, awestruck hush fell over attendees from the first Gloria to the final In Gloria Dei Patris.  The choir also performed "O Come All Ye Faithful" and a mix of Christmas works composed by Tomas Luis de Victoria, Sir David Willcocks, Charles Wood, John Rutter, William Walker, and Harold Durke in a "Lessons in Carols" type of program.

Sorry no pictures as I wouldn't have dared to take one during the performance, and the one on the church website is not an "action shot" so I have refrained from using it.  For some reason, I like to see performers with their mouths open and playing instruments.  Just me.

Yes, there are other choirs, I know, but count First Presbyterian Church's Chancel Choir among those in Salt Lake City not to be missed.  The choir sings during the church's 11 am Sunday services, along with special occasions such as the concert described above.

Disclosure: Admission price for this event was FREE. I received NO compensation for this review.

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