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December 20   -   Joe's Concert Reviews

Monmouth Civic Chorus – Ryan James Brandau, conductor. December 18, 2016.

Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, NJ.  Orchestra (Seat M10, $35). ProgramJoy to the World: A Christmas Suite Concert Program This concert was suggested by the Homs as our annual birthday “celebration,” Lorinda and I share the same birthday on the 22nd.  Their daughter – whom we have known since she was a small child – sings in the chorus. The concert was quite well-attended.  There were about 100 choir members (per the emcee), accompanied by a 40-member orchestra.  Our seats, while giving us a good view of the stage, didn’t have the best acoustics, so the voices often sounded a bit weak, although we had no problem picking out the singing. The program consisted of a variety of music, ranging from Bach to favorite Christmas hymns and songs.  A few poems were read accompanied by music, including several by a chorus member (Bob Kelly, who did his own reading); some of them were poignant, some humorous.  Soprano Kaura Kosar sang a couple of selections, and chorus members Gerald Metz and Kenneth Wasser also did a solo each – with Wasser singing at a microphone.  Kosar’s voice is very good.  Selections from Handel’s Messiah included the Hallelujah Chorus which concluded the first half of the program, and a Joy to the World/We Wish You a Merry Christmas medley that ended the program.  The audience clearly enjoyed the concert, giving the artists a standing ovation afterwards. Brandau arranged a lot of the music for the program, generally to good effect.  He also wrote a two-page “Director’s Note” on the program.  One random sentence from the note: “Pausing, to listen, to sing and to enmesh ourselves in a community of musicians and listeners lets us cut through the din of our noisy recent discourse and tune in to the shared feeling flowing between us.”  Anne and I can’t decide whether it was great-wordsmithing or bad verbosity.  For the record, Brandau has an undergraduate degree from Princeton, and a doctorate from Yale. We had tickets to NJSO’s Messiah at NJPAC that we had to give up because of conflict with choir practice.  This wasn’t a bad substitute. After the concert we headed out to China Buffet in Hazlet to complete the day.

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