An Evening of Spirituals and Heavenly Broadway
Performed May 6th at Christ Church
May 7th at Wells High School Performing Arts Center
Reviewed by Bobby Franklin
Artistic Director Jean Strazdes has once again raised the bar for the wonderful Seaglass Performing Arts Chorale. Closing out the 2016-2017 Season with a program comprised of spirituals that not only contained traditional music but also included tunes from Broadway, Leonard Cohen, and Carly Simon. It was an exciting and interesting mix that worked so well together.
I took in the Sunday performance at Wells High School, and from the opening number, a medley from Sister Act, the audience knew they were in for an afternoon of wonderful music.
When Seaglass performs you not only get to enjoy the music, but Ms Strazdes also gives background into each song along with short biographies of the composers as well as a brief musical history. For instance, I never knew November 29th was Moses Hogan Day, a day to celebrate and perform spirituals in honor of the composer Moses Hogan. For this concert the group performed one of his arrangements, Music Down In My Soul. Mr. Hogan certainly deserves to be remembered.
Other spirituals included Unclouded Day, Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel, My Lord What A Morning, and Down In The River To Pray.
In addition to the selection from Sister Act, Broadway was represented by Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat from Guys and Dolls. Eric Mihan led this song and had the crowd smiling as he moved about the stage. Jean Stradzes read from an original opening night review of the play that compared it with the professionalism of Joe DiMagio. I think Joltin’ Joe would have been happy with this rendition as the group hit it out of the park.
The second act opened with a medley of Nothin’ Gonna Stumble My Feet and the Carly Simon song Let The River Run. Accompanied by a double bass played by Bob Daigle as well as percussion by MaryCarol Kennedy, Stephanie Sanders, and Dianne Smallidge. All were fabulous.
The second act was strong on Broadway tunes with a spiritual flavor. These included Seasons of Love from Rent, Somewhere from West Side Story, and Make Them Hear You from Ragtime. Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with soloist Marilyn Stanley was sublime.
Kim Karchenes accompanied on piano and never missed a note. All of the voices were just beautiful. Seagalss Performing Arts is made up of volunteers, but make no mistake, this is no amateur group. They are all serious musicians who take their art seriously. They work hard so we can enjoy this beautiful music and learn about the rich history behind it. If you haven’t attended a performance yet I urge you to take in the next season. You will be enriched by having done so.