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Y. choir gets fiery start, then loses some luster

SHARE Y. choir gets fiery start, then loses some luster

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY CONCERT CHOIR, Thursday evening, de Jong Concert Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, BYU; one performance only.

PROVO -- BYU's choirs are legendary. Some of the most widely performed choral pieces in the current repertoire are arranged or composed by BYU choir conductor Mac Wilberg, and the concerts of Wilberg's choirs always fill the de Jong Concert Hall with BYU students and Provo residents.Thursday's Concert Choir performance began with great promise. Wilberg's rousing "Jubilate Deo" was followed by three 20th century a'capella numbers that showcased the choir's control and sensitivity.

The choir sang Herbert Howell's "Requiem Aeternum" with muted voices and subtly sculpted phrases. Howell's longing harmonies washed over the audience with perfect blend and intonation.

"Ye Were Sometimes Darkness" from Randall Thompson's Requiem drew the audience in with drawn-out crescendos, and the moody, mournful contrapuntal motion came through with flawless intonation.

Healy Willan's "Ye Watchers and ye Holy Ones" created a vortex of sound with its circles of contrary motion and the choir's robust tone.

The set of "part-songs" also began well with R. Murray Schafer's "Gamelan" and Hildor Lundvik's "Quiet Rain." The perpetual motion of "Gamelan" was accentuated by the choir's perfect diction and synchronicity, as well as its well-accented entrances, while "Quiet Rain" was mystical and wise. "Make Our Garden Grow" from Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" was soaring and rapturous.

It was when the instruments were added that the problems began. Wilberg took his own arrangement of "What Would You Do if You Married a Soldier" at an extremely fast tempo. The timpani and xylophone were able to keep up and added a nice flourish, but the choir's phrasing and expression somehow got lost in the speed and business.

Wilberg's "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" also lacked expression, and the oboe's tone was flat and bleating at times in this piece and Wilberg's arrangement of "The Lord is my Shepherd." The orchestra lagged behind in the concert's finale, Wilberg's "Laudate Dominum," although the choir sang with energy and focus.