At any rate, a full house in the Hayes/Christensen Theatre helped to initiate the first fully choral concert ever there, if memory serves. And while it has its drawbacks acoustically, the theater seems a decent venue for music, especially musical comedy.
In a hall conceived for dance, unamplified musical sound is far from ideal, with many overtones and resonances muffled by the wrap-around acoustic deadening. Nonetheless, there is a certain clarity and ambience which picks up on music and projects it, and since the place is small and wellraked, there is no way you won't hear everything, even though reduced in size and resonance.
The Young Artists Chamber Players, whose director is Jack Ashton, were guest artists - some 30 high school age string musicians who perform sans conductor, but with the sensitive rapport of a string quartet. The sound is mature and musicianship excellent.
To the largo-aria movement of the Concerto for Violin by Richard Dickson, Jorja Hales gave a lyric, full-toned interpretation, with cellist Eric Morgan her empathetic collaborator. Jason Swigert, Tammie Gallup and Alison Rosevear were the self-possessed and fluent soloists in the Vivaldi Concerto in F for three violins.
The Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes express in short, haunting vignettes that moonlit, idealistic love that permeated a certain genre of art song during the 19th century. While this performance suffered some deficiencies from the characteristics of the hall, the effect was generally clear, unified and audible, as conductor John Marlowe Nielson evoked a lilting Viennese warmth, charm and elegance.
Though they ordinarily sublimate their egos to the overall choral effect, Pro Musica's singers stood out with dramatic flair in the solos of "An Evening with Lerner and Loewe."
To excerpts from the duo's inspired half dozen immortal shows, Pro Musica gave sprightly treatment in a singing-dancing-acting program, imaginatively staged and choreographed by Susan N. Williams, with a lively combo of bass, drums and pianist Shauna Kleine accompanying.
Breezing up and down a network of platforms and ramps, the group was constantly in motion, as solos, duets, small ensembles and full chorus succeeded each other in rapid fire succession. Tasteful costuming by Kaye Watkins ranged from tiny touches on most numbers to beautiful Edwardian gowns and elaborate hats in "The Ascot Gavotte," a choral-acting highlight.
Humor was well-served by Thomas E. Williams singing Doolittle's blowsy "Little Bit of Luck" and "Get Me to the Church;" Megan Miller made a sprightly Eliza, and Jill Hixson was glamorous in "I Could have Danced All Night." Richard O. Milius showed off a fine bass in "They Call the Wind Maria" and "Camelot," Mark Child made the romantic most of "If Ever I Would Leave You," and Julie Reed and Mark Pearce endowed "The Heather on the Hill" with bouncy charm.
The 17 appealing numbers concluded with a rousing Scottish finale, "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean," from "Brigadoon," highlighted by singer-dancers Pearce, Verdi White II and Scott Miller, child highland dancers and members of the Utah Pipe Band.