The Spring Concert of the Capital City Girls Choir – x 3
by John W. Lambert
May 8, 2009, Raleigh, NC: The Capital City Girls Choir presented its spring concert in Meredith College’s Jones Auditorium at the outset of Mothers’ Day weekend. The place was packed, presumably with family members and friends. It had been a while since a CVNCer reported on the work of this organization.* Based on the performances this time, the loss has been ours.
The name is something of a misnomer, for there are actually three groups: the Girls Chorus, which is mostly very young singers – there were 18 of them in the program roster and 14 on the stage; the Girls Chorale, the largest of the three choruses, with 40 of the 44 listed singers performing; and the elite Cantabile Singers, of which there were 33. At this concert, Fran McCachern Page directed the little girls and Cantabile, and Amy Brock Davis led the Chorale. Accompanist Brenda Fernandez was engaged all evening.
The CCGC has the benefit of support from Meredith College, where Page is Chair of the Department of Music (and it’s a wonderful thing, too, when senior administrators continue to work in their professional fields). The group also enjoys the benefit of several interns from Meredith, two of whom took brief turns directing the choruses with which they have been working.
The concept of an all-girl chorus is sound for many reasons; its local parallel, across the aisle, as it were, is the Raleigh Boychoir, whose offices are just a few blocks up Ridge Road from the north side of the Meredith campus (and for a recent review of which, click here). There are also mixed choruses, of course, but these tend to sound pretty much like the all-girls and all-boys groups till the guys’ voices start to change in adolescence. Here in the Triangle, we are also fortunate to have a first-rate chorus for adult females; that group is Women’s Voices Chorus (for a recent review of which, click here), and as one might imagine, there’s a whole new world of repertoire for sopranos and altos and the various combinations and permutations of those voice types.
The singing of the component choirs of the CCGC was uniformly excellent – remarkably so, really. The tone quality was rich, the dynamics were very nicely shaped, the diction was precise, the phrasing was outstanding, and the attacks and releases were exemplary. Most of the music was sung from memory, which is always a plus. The pieces, mostly short, included works arranged or composed for girls’ voices by – as the evening progressed – increasingly well known composers. The singers watched their directors like well-trained hawks. Their directors seemed to give the singers everything they needed in order to produce superior results.
In the opening group, sung by the youngest girls, things got off to a wonderful start with “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier” and “Song for a Russian Child.” “The Path to the Moon” was handsomely realized, and the concluding “Troll” was great fun, underscored by projections of children’s drawings on the side walls.
The Girls Chorale performed music by David L. Brunner, Purcell (the well-known “Sound the Trumpet”), Allister MacGillivray, Jay Althouse, and from Peter Pan (“Never Never Land”). Solos in MacGillivary’s “Song for the Mira” were better the second times around, but otherwise the performances were all good, and the choir projected a solid and surprisingly mature sound.
The largest group – eight numbers – was performed by the Cantabile Singers; their part of the program was based in large measure on what they will be singing this summer, on tour – in France(!). A hauntingly beautiful number, “Redemption,” by Z. Randall Stroope, got things underway, and an upbeat “Holy is the Lord” (by Jeffrey Ames), with tambourine accents, provided fine contrast. Several love songs followed; these were particularly noteworthy for the diction and dynamic sensitivity projected. In this context, “Mr. Sandman,” with its reference to Liberace, seemed a bit out of place, but the old standard was very nicely done. A cute “jungle song,” arranged by Marcos Leite, allowed the singers to cut up just a tad. The finale was a moving patriotic pastiche, “An American Anthem,” arranged by Allan E. Naplan.
Along the way there were remarks by Page and some recognitions, and four departing seniors were introduced. All are going on to college – to Peace, to ASU, and to UNC (2). At the end, there was a big ovation – appropriate for the performances and in the context of the weekend, which traditionally marks the end of the season for this and many other choirs.
*The Cantabile Singers were mentioned in a review by Paul D. Williams in October 2007.