During his distinguished tenure with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Vance George led countless concerts, and took part in four Grammy Award-winning recordings. George stepped down from that post in 2006, at age 73, but continues to work as a guest conductor.
Ralph Hughes, the leader of the Sacramento Master Singers for 25 years, invited George to do a concert here. George told me that his time with the Master Singers has been a pleasure.
GEORGE: It's a very experienced chorus. They have wonderful attitude, and maybe that's the first thing one looks for, is the really great attitude… that you love to sing, and you love to come and make music with other people.
Ordinarily, a guest conductor like George flies in for a few final rehearsals leading up to a concert. But because Sacramento and San Francisco are so close, the Master Singers were able to work with George over several weeks, for a total of nine rehearsals.
GEORGE: I find it much more gratifying musically for me, and also better training for the chorus, if I have more time.
The centerpiece of the program will be the Requiem by Gabriel Fauré, composed in the 1880s. It's an established piece that Vance George has conducted in San Francisco and elsewhere, and the Sacramento Master Singers have performed twice before during the past 30 years. Here's a sample from Monday's rehearsal.
Working with an internationally-recognized conductor is a valuable experience for the Master Singers, including bass/baritone Bill Zinn, who has a day job a music teacher in the public schools.
ZINN: I actually use a lot of what I get in my Master Singers rehearsals in my day-to-day class work. It guides what I do with my students so that it helps them to excel.
That sharing of vocal music is something Vance George considers very important.
GEORGE: The whole idea of singing in America right now is really something that is burgeoning. There are 42.6 million people in the United States singing in 270,000 choirs. That's a lot of people singing - that's about 20 percent of the population, or one in five, that are actually participating in a choir.
Guest conductor Vance George and the Sacramento Master Singers perform the Fauré Requiem and other works on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 21st and J Streets in Sacramento.
Concert Information about Sacramento Master Singers: