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A Choral Celebration

   The Choral Society of the Palm Beaches closed its 2013-14 season this weekend with "A Spring Celebration" concert. The Palm Beach Atlantic University Brass Ensemble joined the chorus for an hour of music devoted to celebrations, including O Clap Your Hands, Set Me a Seal and Let There be Peace on Earth.

   It's difficult to pinpoint the stellar moments in a concert bursting with such instances. Surely, PBAU's brass ensemble was an asset to both the chorus and the audience. Without the chorus and under the direction of Dennis Hayslett, the ensemble performed George Frederic Handel's Water Music, a lovely combination of staccato notes and sweeping movements. The instrumental, in addition to demonstrating the student's masterful potential, provided a nice bit of breath in the choral program.

   And, undoubtedly, the solo performances by students Ashley Dupont and Christian Rodriguez illustrated the young vocal talent yet to be tapped in Palm Beach County. Both Dupont and Rodriguez are the winners of the Choral Society's 2014 Young Artist Vocal Competition, held earlier this year. Dupont and Rodriguez received $1,000 and $500, respectively, to pursue music in some way during their college educations. Dupont performed two numbers, one in Italian and one in German, showcasing her burgeoning soprano and an innate knack for foreign languages. Rodriguez performed Anthem from the musical Chess, showcasing a voice beyond his years and a true talent for theatrics—especially subtle facial expressions.

   These moments could definitely be counted as highlights. However, the true showstopper—both literally and metaphorally—came in the second act when the Choral Society and the brass ensemble performed Randall Thompson's The Testament of Freedom. Derived from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, this collection of four passages is packed with powerful prose and even more powerful music, underscored by the delicate interplay of crescendo and repetition. Narrator George Tornay briefly contextualized each section and read excerpts from the source material in a timbre that would make Morgan Freeman weep with jealousy. Choral Society Artistic Director S. Mark Aliapoulios should be duly proud of his chorus for performing a patriotic piece of music with emotional vigor and talent to spare.

  This performance concluded the 2013-14 season for the society, but plans for the 2014-15 season are already underway. Mark your calendars for the following dates:

  • December 13 and 14, "Signs of the Season." Enjoy contemporary and traditional music celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah.
  • February 21 and 22, "Signs of our Heritage." Renowned soprano Lisa Vroman joins the chorus for a tribute to American composers.
  • April 25 and 26, "Music for Spring about Spring." The Tropical Flutes accompany the chorus for an array of music celebrating the spring season.

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