View Full Version : Thirty—five years of choral excellence

Mar-13-2012, 05:30
Sunday Afternoon my lady and I attended the 35th Anniversary Concert of the Greater Westfield Choral Association held at the First Congregational Church. The 50 members of the chorus were joined by four soloists, a 21 member instrumental ensemble and the church’s magnificent Fisk Organ under the direction of the chorus’ third conductor Marc Winer in Franz Joseph Haydn’s Mass in B-flat Major, known as the “Harmoniemesse” , before a capacity audience approaching 500. All participants performed at the peak of their skills giving the beautiful mass setting the power when it was need and the subtlety in its turn. The audience was appropriately generous with their applause at the conlusion of the Agnus Dei.

Following an intermission the chorus returned with its piano accompanist to present a varied program of five pieces. They began with Randall Thompson’s “The Road Not Taken” followed by a Negro Spritual by William L. Dawson “Ain’-A That Good News”. The fourth selection was John Rutter’s beautiful “Gaelic Blessing” and the concert concluded on a rousing note with a Jazz rendition of the Gospel Hymn “Standing on The Promises” arranged by Mark Hayes which brought the audience to their feet with approval. But for many the high point of the afternoon was the first performance of a work titled “Psalm” composed for the 35th Anniversary of the chorus by a member of the groups Bass section, Jay Ducharme. It seems appropriate to quote from the composers comments in the Program: “To me all of the psalms are songs of praise. So my intent was to use some of the various themes in the psalms and combine them into one praise hymn”. To echo the feel of the Gregorian chant he kept the piano part to a minimum and ended the piece on a perfect fifth (the most used chord in Gregorian chant). Three different Psalm styles were chosen. The work opens with the sopranos singing a statement of praise. The altos follow with the theme of the Lords abandonment while the sopranos return to emphasize God’s mercy. The bass section then enters with the prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer or the Pater Noster. The final section, sung by the tenors is the theme of war and governance while the sopranos extol them to praise God and gradually lead the entire chorus into unified praise. The audience’s appreciation of this powerful composition could be judged by the warm applause given to Mr. Ducharme at his introduction.

A reception was held following the concert which afforded me the opportunity to speak to Mr. Ducharme and several other of the performers. Then as was the case with many others, Muriel and I came home with a feeling of spiritual exhaltation.

Mar-13-2012, 09:59
Terrific.. sure sounds like my idea evening. Glad you were able to attend.

Corno Dolce
Mar-13-2012, 12:57
Hi Rob,

Thanks for such a great review - My High School Choral Director was an ardent champion of William Dawson's choral settings, so I'm very familiar with his music.