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Three Choral Blockbusters Coming To Mondavi



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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 04, 2011

You could sum up Sunday's concert hosted by the UC Davis University Chorus in one word: ginormous.

JEFFREY THOMAS: "We will have almost 450 people on stage."

Conductor Jeffrey Thomas will be leading those huge forces through massive sacred work - the Te Deum by French composer Hector Berlioz.  The piece calls for so many performers that no single group can stage it.

JEFFREY THOMAS: "Well, there's the University Chorus and the Alumni Chorus…"

You get the idea. There are six big groups participating.

JEFFREY THOMAS: "The most wonderful thing is that the performers are assembled virtually in the round. The organ is at the back of the hall, the choirs are on both sides, the children's chorus is in the middle of the orchestra. So it's a really fantastic sonic experience."

Here's the University Chorus rehearsing their portion of the Berlioz.

(Music)

The second concert in this trio of choral blockbusters takes place on March 19th, when the Sacramento Choral Society will perform the Verdi Requiem. Conductor Don Kendrick says the opening and closing passages of this famous piece are tranquil.

DON KENDRICK: "But between those two moments of breathless quietness, come some of the most terrifying, hugely seismic testing sound levels you could ever imagine in any choral orchestral work."

(Music: Dies Irae)

When I stood in front of the chorus during this rehearsal, I could feel the impact of nearly 200 voices. I even suggested to Kendrick that it's almost as loud as a rock concert.

DON KENDRICK: "I would say very close, certainly, in those big moments. You know, we have all of these forces onstage, but we also have these forces offstage. In the balconies, hiding up amongst the audience, are another chorus of four more trumpets that create this sort of surround sound effect, where suddenly the sound is all around the audience.

The third contender in this choral trifecta is the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus, performing Bach's Mass in B Minor on March 17. It marks the first visit to the Mondavi Center by the 142-voice Chorus.

This conjunction of three huge choral performances is a happy coincidence. And if you're like me, and you get goosebumps when you hear hundreds of voices singing in a vast, reverberant space,  these next two weeks will be memorable.

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The March 6th concert of Berlioz: Te Deum features the  UCD University Chorus, UOP Orchestra and several other groups.  Click here for more information.

The March 17th concert of Bach: Mass in B Minor features the San Francisco Symphony/Chorus.  Here is more information.

And the March 19th concert of Verdi: Requiem will be performed by the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra.  Here are the details.

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