The Berkeley Women’s Community Chorus, an affiliate of BCCO under the musical direction of Debra Golata, performed its spring concert on Sunday, April 24 at Northbrae Community Church. The concert was entitled “Here’s to Life,” and featured a rich variety of musical pieces, ranging from the 18th century to the 21st century. As has become the Women’s Chorus tradition, (if two years can constitute a tradition) there were pieces sung a cappella, some accompanied by a string quartet and by the talented pianist Collin Whitfield, and a solo by Jacqueline Andersen.
The concert began with the chorus processing to “Bim Bam,” a Jewish nigun that the program explained “is from a largely extemporaneous vocal tradition having its roots in the Hasidic movement of 18th-century Eastern Europe.” Once the chorus arrived onto the risers, they moved easily into singing “Laudate Pueri Dominum” by J. Michael Haydn, followed by “Miserere Mei,” by the early 18h century composer Johann Adolf Hasse. Both pieces were beautifully sung, accompanied by a string quartet and an organ.
Music Director Golata then took the ensemble into the 20th century with “Adventures in Color” for a complete change of tone and pace. The chorus accomplished in this piece what so many choruses have difficulty doing, which is to articulate with complete clarity the English lyrics. From “Color” the chorus moved to Nuevo tango, with percussion provided by Kate Mangotich, to the pleasure of the audience.
Other highlights included a little local history with Jacqueline Andersen singing “Ordinary Things,” from a PBS docu-drama about the life of John Muir, with the title song cast in the voice of Muir’s wife, Louie. Anderson, Assistant Director of the women’s chorus, had portrayed Louie in the PBS special.
In what was once the tradition of BCCO, the Women’s Chorus invited the audience to join them in singing, on this occasion a song by Lennon and McCartney, “In My Life.,” with the added pleasure of hearing Collin’s spirited accompaniment. The concert came to a conclusion with the title song “Here’s to Life.” The rich variety of the repertoire, the increasing skill and discipline of the singers and accompanying musicians, the obvious joy expressed by the chorus as they sang, and Deb Golata’s infectious enthusiasm and musicianship left the audience well satisfied.
Following the concert, the chorus hosted a bountiful reception in the church hall.
The chorus welcomes new singers. Fall rehearsals begin on September 1 and take place on Thursday evenings from 7-9. For more information and to register go to http://bcco.org/womens-chorus.