Thursday, December 14, 2006


Life in this town is never dull, if you know how to scope out the happening events. And Greenwich High School (Go Big Red!) was a happening place last night, for sure.

The venue was the jam-packed superannuated auditorium, and the event was the annual Christmas choral concert. Patrick Taylor, who deserves a knighthood, IMHO, trains these young singers to a degree of professionalism rarely found even at the university level, and they reciprocate by giving him every ounce of talent and concentration they have. It all added up to a stunning performance.

I can only give you a couple of highlights for now. All the male singers were dressed in immaculate black tie, while the girls wore identical matching black gowns. The large Concert Choir sang some traditional and not-so-traditional seasonal offerings, including a striking marriage of Pachelbel's Canon to "The First Nowell". The men's group, the Witchmen, injected their trademark humor into the proceedings, while the women's Madrigals ensemble showed their usual high level of precision and musicality.

But it was, as always, the Chamber Singers who stole the show. This small band of highly-talented and -trained young people is probably one of the finest singing groups in North America, if not indeed the whole world. Their pitch, control, and execution are utterly amazing. Their repertoire would challenge the best professional singers anywhere. And they make it all look so easy!

Their finale was "The Twelve Days After Christmas", a rollicking ballad of what happens to all the gifts when the narrator and his "true love" have a huge fight. In the ensuing mayhem virtually everything hits the fan, except for one drummer drumming that the "true love" decides is a keeper. Whether her testing of the other drummers was a proximate cause of the breakup with the narrator is left to our imagination; suffice it to say that the whole thing was riotously funny.

Then the creaky, old, too-small stage was crammed with all the GHS singers AND alumni choristers to belt out the Hallelujah Chorus. Patrick Taylor gave a brief recap of some of the possible reasons King George II stood at the first performance of this piece (he was late; he had gout and needed to stand; it was time for a bathroom break, etc.), and then mounted a high and rather dangerous-looking trestle arrangement where he could conduct the massed singers and orchestra. (Did I mention that GHS desperately needs better auditorium and practice facilities for its burgeoning music and drama programs? If you live in Greenwich, call Ginny Krob and get your name on her petition!)

I snapped a couple of pics of Patrick on his trestle conducting the hordes, and if they come out you will be seeing them here in the near future. For now, you can create your own visual and audio effects; and if you didn't make the concert this year, I hope you will be there next year.

P.S. Here's the promised picture. As always, click on it to get the wide-screen view. Patrick is by the tall pole for the microphones used to record the concert. You can't see that he is precariously perched about ten feet off the floor, but he is. Clearly the man has a great sense of balance, and I don't mean merely musical!


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