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In a truly collaborative event, the Raleigh Boychoir closed out the 21-22 concert season with a collective performance with Raleigh's newest youth choir, the Mosaic Treble Choir. Aptly titled, "A Concert of Resilience," the program was seamless - nearly every piece on it could be reasonably linked back to the thematic heart. Graduating senior singers from both organizations also gave brief testimonies of their life experiences throughout the program, further solidifying the thematic framework. My favorite quotes from the class of 2022 include, "Music is my resilience," (Leslie Kramer) and "There is no way to grow without resilience" (Briana Easterly).
The timeliness of this theme is obvious, given the events of the past two years and their impacts on choral music; however, instead of dwelling only on the past, the concert acknowledged past hardship while also looking forward. In fact, the concert concluded with Raleigh Boychoir's annual promotion ceremony and an announcement of the next tour destination for Summer 2023 - the Crescent City Choral Music Festival in New Orleans. The members of Mosaic Treble Choir certainly have much to look forward to as well - Mosaic is currently conducting auditions for the 22-23 school year!
I was delighted to see the song "One Voice" at the top of the program, performed in an arrangement very close to the original by The Wailin' Jennys. This song's beautiful and accessible harmonies were performed by all singers together, spread across the front of The Church of the Good Shepherd's stage. Mosaic artistic director Emily Turner conducted, and the result was gentle and sonorous.
Then, the RBC showcased their youngest singers. The organization is actually formed of four tiered groups by age level: the Training Choir, Resident Choir, Performing Choir, and Young Men's Ensemble. Although the repertoire performed by these groups differed vastly according to age level, I did notice a commonality - there were many opportunities to showcase solo voices. Indeed, with "Watch Me Fly," nearly every member of the Resident Choir had a solo (they passed the mic down the line; it was adorable). Especially with these two youngest groups, led by Katie O'Neill and Bo Reece, I noticed a level of unmatched professionalism and earnestness that was commendable.
Mosaic Treble Choir displayed their mature, legato sound with a set of songs mostly in unison, no easy feat to blend in the resonant chapel space. With "Dreams Were Made to Come True," written by fellow local choir director Nat Stine and conducted by Amy Davis, the singers of Mosaic really formed "one voice," matching their diction of the lyrics quite well despite being masked. Slightly later in the program, Mosaic committed to strong, lengthy legato phrases with "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need," and expertly-performed and relaxed body percussion in Moira Smiley's arrangement of "Bring Me Little Water, Silvy" (the key here was to only have a handful of singers perform the body percussion - I'm definitely going to remember that next time I teach this piece myself). I also noticed Mosaic's alto section really shining as the foundation here.
The theme of resilience rang true with RBC Performing Choir's performance of "Who Am I," a soulful, minor-key melody set to Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher's poetry, and "Siyahamba," the South African freedom song used to gather voices in the anti-apartheid movement. Later, the Performing Choir and Young Men's Ensemble performed Eugene Rogers' arrangement of "Glory," which speaks directly about the civil rights struggle for Black Americans even today. Conducted by RBC artistic director Jeremy Tucker, "Glory" featured soloists in both rapping and song; a powerful moment in the middle of this anthem was when the Performing Choir filed onstage to sing the melody within the arrangement's layered textures.
"Remember My Song" by North Carolina's own Jay Althouse and Sally Albrecht, featured Mosaic Treble Choirs together with RBC Young Men's Ensemble in a memorable close to the concert. This piece was written for Daniel Pearl World Music Days, an ongoing tradition in honor of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter and musician who was killed by extremists in Pakistan in 2002. Honoring Pearl's violin background, violinist Leslie Kramer played the featured solo that weaves throughout the choral melody. In addition, the singers also performed sign language, which they learned in a workshop with Albrecht several weeks earlier. It was obvious upon hearing these singers together that they have learned and grown a great deal both individually and together in the past year, due to both their personal resilience and the resilience of their choral organizations.