The beautiful Aycock Auditorium was my destination again Sunday afternoon as I went to hear the UNCG University Chorale and Chamber Singers. The hall was about half-full with a mixed audience of students, families, and members of the community.
The University Chorale, conducted by Carole Ott, opened the concert with the Salve Regina in G Minor by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). I was immediately struck by the choir's wonderful blend and balance. The choir projected a full, mature sound, paid close attention to diction, and was very tight, rhythmically. Jacob Kato, baritone, sang the solo movement, "Et Jesum." He has a beautiful rich sound that rang throughout the auditorium. The accompanying chamber orchestra, a string sextet with organ, sounded very well rehearsed and mixed well with the choir. The entire piece had independent, melodic lines for each vocal part that resulted in lush harmonies.
The University Chorale finished their performance and the first half of the concert with Missa Brevis in G by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91). The choir continued to display excellent blend and diction. This piece featured soprano Felicia Francois, alto Margaret Ramsey, tenor Jacob Gilbert, and baritone Robin Hardman. Francois has a light, sprightly sound that filled the auditorium with ease. Ramsey was a bit quieter, with a very rich lower range. Her voice had an interesting color that left me wishing to hear more. Gilbert's diction was good, but he needed a bit more support in his higher range. Hardman was a commanding baritone with a very mature, rich sound. Highlights of this short mass were the duets between Francois and Ramsey in the Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei movements. The tones and colors of the two women's voices were incredible together.
The Chamber Singers, conducted by Welbourn E. Young, took the stage for the second half of the concert to perform Dixit Dominus by Handel (1685-1759). This piece featured many soloists, including sopranos Bridget Moriarty, Holly Curtis, Mackenzie Ellis, and Jordan Winslow, altos Laura Buff, Megan Raisner, and Sara Zielinski, tenor Matthew Bishop, and bass Derek Gracey. This choir did not have very good blend in the beginning – the tenors were almost impossible to hear and the sopranos were overpowering. The Chamber Singers nonetheless sang with excellent diction and wonderfully varying dynamics, and they created incredible sounds together. The solo aria, performed by Moriarty, was unbelievable; she had an amazing, full, rich soprano voice that moved with grace and soared easily to the highest notes. The accompanying orchestra was again very tight and well rehearsed.
I was pleasantly surprised by the musicality and high level of performances from both of these ensembles, and I look forward to their next concerts.