Last Sunday evening, the innovative Manhattan-based choir Choral Chameleon presented an eclectic program titled “Tempus: Art of Time and Concord.”
Choral Chameleon has obviously built up a devoted following in their nearly four years of existence. The venue, John Street Church, a mid-size structure in downtown Manhattan, was filled save for a few cordoned-off rows. Quite notably, the palpable pre-concert enthusiasm of the audience, (comprised of young and old and everyone in between), was a welcome start to the show.
“Tempus” was built around Stephen Chatman’s ethereal Time Pieces, a dynamic four-movement work on the theme of “time.” Time Pieces is a true choral gem filled with stylistic variation and beautiful tonalities, and one that I would recommend highly to advanced chamber ensembles. Surrounding these movements was varied fare from composers as diverse as Guerrero, Britten, and…Cyndi Lauper, in addition to other newly-composed pieces. The musical direction was handled confidently by Vince Peterson and the choir was overall quite polished. In particular, the sopranos as a group achieved a beautiful pure tone and their voices were balanced nicely with the others. Also, the choir should be commended for their excellent diction. The words were consistently crisp and intelligible. Percussionist Erika Johnson played with aplomb throughout the program. I found Time Pieces IV: Clocks and Sonnet 12 by Thomas Conroy especially impressive as they both included complex vocal percussion that was obviously well-rehearsed. Particularly exciting was Joseph Gregorio’s Look Back on Time With Kindly Eyes, a 12-part canon in which each singer is a soloist. The choir sang with great effect from the balcony, the voices moving around overhead. Cyndi Lauper’s hit song “Time After Time” (arranged for the choir by Erika Johnson) and soprano, Erika Lloyd’s own “Time Pops Bubbles” were upbeat tunes that had the audience nearly dancing in the aisles.
The music was not the only eclectic part of the show. Choral Chameleon’s singers have varying musical backgrounds that include Classical training, Jazz and contemporary music. Some are soloists, others lifelong choristers, some compose, or conduct in addition to singing, but regardless of background, all of the performers seemed at ease in navigating the complexities of the contemporary pieces.
In a city with countless choirs and vocal groups, Choral Chameleon has indisputably etched out a comfortable niche and they are certainly a group to watch. Keep an eye out for their innovative programming, tight harmonies, and infectious enthusiasm.
You can visit the group online at: www.choralchameleon.com. Their next concert, Summoning Light, will take place at 7:30PM on December 14th at Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College.
Lauren Alfano is a New York-based soprano, http://www.laurenalfanosoprano.com.