River City Men’s Chorus
If David Glaze and the River City Men’s Chorus keep this up, they’re going to need a bigger venue. Or –- gasp! – they might even have to charge something for these outstanding holiday season performances like the one we saw last week.
Actually, a ticket fee probably won’t keep the masses away. On the second night of a two-performance run of “Holiday 2005,” the aisles were overflowing and people lined the walls to witness Glaze and his 50-member group explore the season with a variety of vocal musical styles, from classical a cappella to spiritual with an African drum in the background to zestful holiday offerings.
It should be obvious to anyone who has seen Glaze’s various holiday shows that the man knows how to pace a concert, and this one went from great to greater. He also highlights his soloists (Andrew Irvin, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra co-concertmaster, along with Scott Stern, Michael Watson, Charles Friedman, Bernie Turgeon and Luke Coop), and shows off his chorus’ range as well, from amazing high tenor to deep bass. For this show, Glaze added a string quartet (Beth Massa and Meredith Maddox on violins, Phebe Duff on viola, Melita Hunsinger on cello) and on a couple of numbers ceded the piano to a local pair, David Belcher and Linda Holzer, especially to handle the four hand compositions of Howard Helvey.
The trio of “Coventry Carol,” “Ding-Dong Merrily on High” and “Tomorrow Will Be My Dancing Day” highlighted the first set. We also thought “Peronent Hodie” with Stern, Watson and Coop as soloists was a first-half standout.
The second half’s high point was Michael Clawson’s arrangement of “The First Noel” sung to Pachelbel’s “Canon” on strings.
For an encore, the show literally went to the dogs with a barking take on “The 12 Days of Christmas,” including five chorus members acting out the dog parts. They followed up that frivolity with a smooth, moving verse of “Silent Night.”
This was the best of these holiday shows yet by the group, now in its third year.