Monday, May 8, 2017

Nebraska Choirs Unite to Celebrate

Lincoln Choral Artists (LCA) finished their year with a final celebration of the 150th birthday of Nebraska.  Earlier in the choir year, LCA celebrated the sesquicentennial of Nebraska by collaborating with other Lincoln area choirs. This past Sunday, in O'Donnell auditorium on the Wesleyan campus, LCA was joined by singers from across Nebraska. The Heartland Singers of North Platte and the Grand Island City Singers.

Although the theme was "Sowing the Seeds of Music in Nebraska," it was clear from the participation of talented choirs from across the state that there are not only seeds, but many fruits of music in Nebraska!

The Bellissimo handbell choir of Lincoln also performed, a pleasant surprise on an otherwise choral concert, and the audience enjoyed the experience of seeing the talented performance of this community handbell choir.

The best pieces of the concert were the ones especially suited to the theme of Nebraska's celebration. The visiting choirs both performed works by John Rutter, with the North Platte choir's performance of "For the Beauty of the Earth," a most moving performance.

Two pieces were featured by Nebraska composers: "Nebraska Sky," the work of North Platte native, Kim Baxter, and "The Bee and the Frog," performed by LCA, by composer David von Kampen.

"Blow Prairie Winds," "Rattle on the Stove Pipe," "Song of Peace," performed by the bell choir, were other crowd pleasers that kept the Nebraska theme!

Although the concert was longer than many have the attention span for in this day and age, the massed vocal choir performances of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Beautiful Nebraska/America the Beautiful," and "Praise to the Lord the Almighty" gave a great chance to see the collaboration of the many singers, conductors, pianists, and organist of the day.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lincoln Choral Artists: Music High Above Lincoln

High above Lincoln in the Nebraska Club, the 20th floor of the US Bank building downtown, the Lincoln Choral Artists (LCA), a talented community choir under the direction of Jason Horner with Dennis Plutalov at the piano, took a little “break” from their usual repertoire and presented “Crooning over Lincoln.” Dinner, concert, and auction all to benefit the wonderful work of LCA in keeping choral music alive and well in our community. Throughout the 2016-2017 year, LCA is celebrating Nebraska for its sesquicentennial, with A Capitol City Choirs Concert in the fall, and the upcoming Sowing the Seeds of Music in Nebraska on May 7th at 3:00pm at O’Donnell Auditorium on the campus of Nebraska Wesleyan. 

The gala on Friday, March 3, featured music of the ‘40s and ‘50s, old familiar favorites of Frank Sinatra, the Andrew Sisters, Nat King Cole and more. The choir was challenged to learn different sounds and harmonies than exist in some of their more classical repertoire, but what was most evident throughout program wasn’t the hard work put into the music but the fun the performers were having!

They opened the evening with “Fly Me to the Moon”—memorized, an impressive feat. In between choral pieces, the audience was treated to solos or small groups, some performed by the evening’s M.C., Michael Tully, and some by members of the choir. Not only was the audience tapping their toes along to the tunes, but even when not singing, every member of the choir was engaged, smiling, and moving to the music! Music included "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Java Jive," and a break from the crooner-theme for a Bach Organ Fugue in a challenging choral arrangement!

Once again, LCA proves that a love for music is far from dead in the Lincoln community.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

An Unlikely Combination: Percussion and Organ Duet

Dave Hall, UNL's Assistant Professor of Percussion and Jazz Studies, gave his percussion recital on Saturday evening. As usual with percussion recitals, the variety of sounds, styles, and instruments was fascinating and colorful. No one can fail to be impressed by the talent that goes into playing all the different kinds of percussive instruments.

The oldest piece of music on the program was composed in 2009, a composition by the performer, and the newest was written as recently as 2016. One delightful piece had the title "Azucar," or "sugar," and had a sweet and delicious sound as one would expect!

The highlight of the evening was, beyond a doubt, the grand finale which was a work composed by Kurt Knecht for Dave Hall and Christopher Marks, UNL's professor of organ. Featuring different percussion instruments for each movement, the work is a masterpiece of blending two instruments that one would not normally imagine working together--rhythms and harmonies highlighted one instrument or the other as they played both rousingly at times or peacefully. You can enjoy the performance (given earlier at Marks' recital) in the video below: