Reviews ...

A Christmas gift from Polymnia

... Christmas songs old and new

by Jackie Wattenberg

Do you like music? If so, you’re in the right town!

A symphony orchestra magically elevated by Conductor Yoichi Udagawa,
Polymnia Choral Society superbly conducted by Murray Kidd and the long-
standing Beethoven Society for monthly recitals. What riches!

Saturday evening, Mr. Kidd engaged the heart of Christmas with a program
of the finest music celebrating our holiday before a full house in lovely St.
Mary’s Church. That lovely structure holds the heights for carrying singers’
tones to their fullest, purest tones.

Mr. Kidd chose the finest Christmas songs, old and new, and no chance for
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer to jump in — not that I dislike Rudolph or
reindeer, but Mr. Kidd, a fine singer as well as conductor, begins in both old
and new songs, many I’ve never heard before, for a chance to hear new
songs along with the old.

Early in the program came “Prelude to Peace,” suitable for us and the world,
composed by Randall Stroppe in 1993, gripping in its harmonies and words
of poet Sarah Teasdale. A moving, dramatic song by Mozart, “Laudate
Dominum,” rarely heard, was moving and striking with high climaxes by
soprano Joanne Boag. Poet e.e. Cummings was represented by a charming
little tribute to a “Little Tree,” composed by Rtic Whitacre.

The group’s Chamber Choir brought a lovely group of early songs, including
the very singable “Wassail, Wassail,” arranged by Vaughan Williams, and a
warm-hearted rendition of the lovely Coventry Carol. Then a bit of a surprise
— an assistant conductor, Kattrina Fauslich, raised her baton for Randall
Thompson’s “Choose Something Like a Star,” bright with melody and advice
for Christmas.

Youngest performer was Maria Tramontrozzi, winner of this year’s Spotlight
on High School Talent,who gave us one of the long-time favorite carols, “O
Holy Night.” She’s a pretty girl with a pretty voice, singing confidently. (Her
high notes will be even prettier if she opens her mouth higher to give room
for those top tones.)

There is a fond blending of string instruments with choral voices, captivating
here especially in a work, titled “Luminous Night of the Soul,” a
contemporary piece by Ola Gjello. Here the string: Zola Bolgovsky and Yuval
Herz, violins; Susan Seeber, viola; and Erica Finn, cello. Kerry Donovan sang
the vocal solos with ease and warmth. A beautiful, expressive work.

As always, Dorothy Travis, pianist through the changes in Polymnia
conductors, was a constant support of every change in music’s style,
occasionally winning applause for a brief solo.

Murray Kidd did it again — a varied and inspiring evening of fine music, right
here in Melrose. Well, yes, Wakefield was lucky, too — on the next day,
Sunday, the chorus performed in the First Parish Congregational Church.

Reprinted with permission from the Melrose Free
Press December 17,2015..

January 8, 2016

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