A full house welcomed the first performance for the 2004-05 season of the River City Men’s Chorus last Sunday, and the only thing better than the weather on that fine early-autumn day was the music inside the sanctuary.
The 40-member choral group, conducted by pianist David A. Glaze, performed two vastly different sets during the recital. The first section consisted of religious selections by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach and others. This was a celebration of voice and song, and the group’s harmonies were both powerful and sublime. Backing instrumentation was sparse, consisting at turns of piano, a single violin, or the lovely mingling of oboe and flute, played by Beth Wheeler and Barry McVinney.
After the intermission, the group sang a diverse series of thematically linked pieces entitled "River Song, A Celebration of Rivers."
The chorus began the second set with a creative arrangement of "Riversong — A Celtic Celebration" by Roger Emerson. Backed by a rhythmic hand drum, tambourine, mandolin, violin and flute, the chorus evoked both the muse of nature and the spirited lilt of the traditional music of the British Isles.
Moving geographically closer to home, they proceeded to moving renditions of "Shenandoah" and "Muddy Water" (from "Big River") by Roger Miller. A highlight of the show’s second portion was a foot-tapping arrangement of the traditional spiritual "Wade in the Water." Upon concluding with the classic "Old Man River," the chorus received a standing ovation.
Sunday’s performance was recorded, so presumably it will be available for purchase at future concerts. It was announced at the show’s start that the River City Men’s Chorus has accepted an invitation to perform at the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center in mid-November. That the group’s reputation and fortunes have flourished in the short time since its inception in late 2002 is a fitting tribute to its talent.
— By Tim Jones