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Zero Gravity LA | Concert Review - Love: A Choral Valentine

By Lauren Beale, guest blogger

If you’ve already forgotten how you celebrated Valentine’s Day eve, chances are you missed “Love: A Choral Valentine” at the Noor Event Center in Pasadena.

Artes Vocales of Los Angeles brought the holiday to life with two full-house performances of classical music by composers including Henry Purcell, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Aaron Copland and Benjamin Britten. Texts of the musical works came from such sources the Bible’s Song of Solomon and Renaissance playwright and Shakespeare contemporary Ben Johnson. Passion, loss and tribute to great loves were among the themes explored.

Under the emotive conducting of Dr. Steven Kronauer, the close to 70-voice chorale felt almost overwhelming in the intimate space. Yet the setting and close physical distance of the singers to audience seemed appropriate for a holiday about love and sensuality.

The thoughtfully performed choral pieces were punctuated by masterful solo works. Standouts included Purcell’s “Sweeter Than Roses,” a technical tour-de-force performed by mezzo-soprano Sarah Reynolds, and Britten’s “Salley Gardens,” a mournful lament of lost love sung by tenors Evan Roberts and Craig Benson. Soprano Melissa Elza brought emotional depth to Vaughn Williams’ “Youth and Love.” Baritone Benno Ressa and soprano Delia Rios rounded out the talented soloist lineup.

For a large chorus, the assembled showed precise agreement on word pronunciation, rhythm and tone. The group ably demonstrated that in choral music the sum can be greater than the parts. They drew breath as one and, in this performance, their hearts seemed to beat as one.

The gifted Twyla Meyer enhanced the performance with her graceful artistry at the piano.

Artes Vocales, under the auspices of the Pasadena Conservatory of Music, will be performing “The St. Matthew Passion” by Johann Sebastian Bach on June 4 at First United Methodist Church, 500 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.

A longtime supporter of the vocal arts, Lauren Beale has sung with Los Angeles County choruses including Artes Vocales, the Colburn Community Chorus and Los Cancioneros Master Chorale. She currently sings with the Joanna Medawar Nachef Singers, which will be performing Mozart’s Requiem April 3 at 7 p.m. at the Norris Theatre, 27570 Norris Center Drive, Rolling Hills Estates.

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