The Sacramento Choral Calendar


Concert Review

UC Davis University and Alumni Choruses &
Davis Chorale

Ode to Joy - March 13, 2016

by Nancy Bramlett

What a remarkable evening! On this Sunday evening we had the rare treat of three combined choirs and a full orchestra. Over two hundred singers and a hundred orchestra members were quite impressive, especially since this concert was held at the fabulous state-of-the-art Mondavi Center. The UC Davis Chorus (Jeffrey Thomas, Director), the UC Davis Alumni Chorus (also Jeffrey Thomas) and the Davis Chorale (Alison Skinner, Director) joined forces with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra (Christian Baldini, Director) for three short Mozart and Beethoven pieces and then the pièce de résistance: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (The Choral Symphony).

The program for the evening (including translations) can be found here.

Conductors Thomas, Skinner and Baldini have much to be proud of — both in their work and in that of the members of their organizations. It is rare to find a choir for which there is nothing I wished to be better. These musicians were supremely accomplished, almost without exception. The intonation, diction, pronunciation, dynamics, articulation, phrasing, rhythms, tempi and cut-offs were excellent, and the blend and tone were magnificent and pure.

The first two selections were by Mozart. The “Kyrie” (which I have had the pleasure of singing before) has a particularly impressive choral beginning. The “Ave Verum Corpus” was new to me, and its gentle magnificence brought tears to my eyes and made me to yearn for that heavenly banquet. The third and last piece before the intermission was Beethoven’s “Eleischer Gesang,” a gorgeous piece beginning with orchestra, prayerful and contemplative, then impassioned and finally hopeful.

After the intermission it was all Beethoven’s 9th, which I had the honor of performing years ago. It holds a dear place in my heart, and these performers made it all that it can be. The first sections were instrumental excellence and then the combined choirs brought the vocal section to vibrant life, including the soloists: Nian Wang’s crystal soprano was perfection, Brad Walkers resonance resounded, and Michael Jankovsky’s tenor was accomplished. Unfortunately for some reason (perhaps where I was sitting), I could not hear Toni Marie Palmertree much at all. Still, I heard only excellence in notes, tone, expression from all of the soloists. I would prefer these soloists to many I have heard elsewhere, and these young soloists will likely go far. How exciting for us to have them to be part of the evening’s performance. The 9th choral voices shone with gentleness and power, excitement and peace, and the sparkling and dynamic orchestra completed the success. I hope this is not the last time the three choirs will collaborate. The two-hundred-voice sound is rare these days and not to be missed. I cannot give enough praise for tonight’s performance. If you are thinking about attending a future performance, do not hesitate. These musical organizations are of the highest caliber.

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.

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