Judgement Day - November 9, 2014
by Nancy Bramlett
I was quite excited in anticipation of hearing this group live for the first time. Their reputation preceded them, so I had checked out their videos on YouTube in advance. I was very impressed with their professionalism.
Before the concert even began, I was impressed with two things in their program. First, their purpose: “We wish to glorify God through music and through service to people and our community”; second, the theme of the concert: judgement. "Judgement" is a theme I do not remember encountering before. They succeeded on both counts that afternoon. It was a powerful performance. The orchestra, the Chorale and the soloists were incredible. The message of "judgement" was clear and pervasive.
(Click here to open the program in a new window.)
The concert opened with an instrumental-only performance. It was perfectly executed in timing, tone, pitch and expression: superb. I was unfamiliar with the traditions of the audience, as talking continued throughout the first piece, but I was in a different culture. The chorale is made up of singers from the Slavic community of the greater Sacramento region. I admire the respect shown by the attire worn by the audience. I am grateful for the welcome with which the “foreigners” were received. The woman I sat next to, Tatiana, was gracious to interpret whenever there was something said just in Russian. She also helped me understand that there were people there who spoke Russian and Ukrainian, but that both can understand the other's language.
After the opening instrumental, the Chorale processed in two rows singing a chant of “Dies Irae” ("Song of Wrath"). The effect was stunning. Next, the Chorale created an intense performance of “I Think Upon that Fearful Day,” with a mighty bass section and a smooth, strong soprano section producing delicious dissonances that sent shivers down my spine. During the "Dies Irae" by Jenkins (2003), a video of fire was playing on the screens: very modern, with a strong rhythm section and guttural, earthy singing. Impressive. I really enjoyed hearing three interpretations of "Dies Irae," each bringing out facets of the concept of a “Song of Wrath.”
Tamara Belty beautifully led the chorale in singing an intensely moving “Recordare” from the composition Eternal Light by Howard Goodall (2008): "Drop, drop, slow tears,/ And bathe those beauteous feet/ Which brought from Heaven/ The news and Prince of Peace:/ Cease not, wet eyes, His mercy to entreat."
Three of the movements from Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor followed. The “Dies Irae” with orchestra and chorale was fabulous. For the “Confutatis,” the men began speaking of the damned cast away and the women answered, and their prayers mingled for help in this final hour (Mozart died before it was finished). “Lacrimosa” was incredibly powerful: "On this day full of tears we ask mercy and grant that they have eternal rest."
Isaiah's lament was a beautiful change of texture, with Daniella Kilinyuk accompanied by guitar and violin. The first section concluded with Nelya Kapitula singing “That Day is Coming” (2010). I did not know the words she sang, but my soul did. It sounded so hopeful. The orchestra was dazzling, and I got chills and tears without even knowing the words! Afterward I sought out the translation and my soul was right: hope for the day of Christ's final victory.
The Pastor of the church then shared a poignant message about the theme of the concert: judgement.
The second half of the concert began differently. While the first half had a more classical feel, the second half was undeniably more modern. I loved that the orchestra shared the stage with the “contemporary Christian” band instruments. They played together and separately and illustrated wonderfully how older styles of music and newer styles can work together to bring joy to all. Daniella Kalinyuk started us off with “When the Saints Burn Down.” It was a terrific, rousing piece. Then “Revelation Song” was led by Inna Chiley with her strong and clear voice, helped by Miroslav Chernyetsky. Then Oksana Chernyetsky shared “I Know Who I have Believed.” This rendition of a popular hymn seemed to have a warm folk feel with its guitar, bass and drums.
“Jesus is the Lord” was in English, as a singalong led by Miroslav Chernyetsky. Then the audience got to sing for a reprise of “When the Stars Burn Down” Wonderful instrumentation; excitement reigned.
Finally, “Oh My, My” was a fun ending. It was another singalong in English. It had a rock and roll/gospel feel to it and was definitely an audience favorite (including a reference to “I'll Fly Away”).
This concert was supported entirely by donation and was packed to overflowing. If you go to their next concert in the spring, I suggest you arrive 30 minutes early or you won't get in!
(Editor's note: The accepted American spelling of the title of this concert would be "judgment." However, since the title of the concert uses the English spelling, we have kept that spelling of the term throughout this review.)
Nancy Bramlett is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano from Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance. She has most recently studied with Marla Volovna in San Francisco and Zoila Munoz in Davis. Nancy has had the honor of traveling all over the US and to Europe with the Bradley University Chorale. She has sung in several choirs since then, as well as performing in opera and musical theater productions and singing solos for local churches, as well as weddings and memorial services. Nancy has directed choirs; taught voice, piano and Kindermusik; and has been a music director for musical theater. She is currently busy with Classical Music for Christ and as a regular soloist for Cottage Way Christian Church in Sacramento and the Placer County Youth Orchestra. Nancy resides in Rocklin with her husband Scott and three sons: Patrick, Riley and John.