Heights reached by Smith Singers

Clipped from US, California, Oxnard, Oxnard Press Courier, October 18, 1961

: • ...«■■ I. -I .1 ■ ... • •• .Ventura concert openerHeightsby Smith SingersBy Tam eei Barton Knmtt fed style. Moreover, theThe Gregg Smith Singers open* was achieved without thesd the 22nd *01.0011 of the Ventu- ly sequence of hra Concert Series last night in the | turns such a florid reading by the Ventura High School auditorium, average chorus into aFor any who stiQ need proof of contest. Southern California’s growing importance in the world of music, ast night’s concert was an Hern well worth pondering, since this is a Southern California group.Certainly eat af theport ant as well aa on# of 'the difficult choral works by erican composer is “In theginning” by Aaron Copland, ft larhey aang to a less-than-capacity; written for a capella choroa andaudience which began the even- soprano aoloift. And It demaadaing being receptive and ended by * soprano who can be g teing enthusiastic.of choralIt was an. evening tinging of the highest caliber. Hie [met pitch — always a problem for such unaccompanied, singing—was very nearly perfect. Neither of us ias 'heard such rhythmic and precision in a choralime out of mind. With ©ccasion-mvoice, a low voice, and asure technician. Uta. Shlni**—Hof these demand* m*H although her voice was not opulent, as we might have widh ed. We have heard other perform*ances of this work which have reduced, it to a vast, array of unintelligible sounds but last wight il slips on which we are not will-iwe heard it sung as a deeplyng to dwell, the blend of voices jng musical and religiousvas a model blend of blendshowever.There were;prob-ems. The drapery on the stagelence. Based on Genesis a* atext, this mode seek* .andachieves much of the moving»f the Ventura auditorium has a grandeur of the source of its In-lampening effect on resonance vhich Is almost impossible toovercome. The performer either ias to work entirely in front of he curtain or1 accept the lossspiration. Certainly the perforn* ance was worthy of the music.Gregg Smith is a very versatile young man. He and his chorusare Los Angeles products. He Is a nund. This is what Mr. Smith; very fine arranger and an Inter-ind his group did.Musically, 'the evening rangedrom the Sixteenth Century to theesting composer witha goodgrasp of choral possibilities. Aset of “Three Landscapes” by vork of living composers. Thejhim done to the poems by T. S.monumental “0 Magnum Myster-Elliot were charming although aurn” of Victoria received a reverent reading 'which created a ruly religious feeling in thebit pallid after the Copland. They did serve as an excellent foil torthe utterly charming “Nicolette 00m. The same was true of the!by Maurice Ravel. Out of exquisite “When Jesus Wept” byVilliam Billings, a vastly neglected composer.One of the richest and mootverychoral output this fragment makes us wish he had beentempted to write more.noving works of the evening was he “Psalm 67” by Charles t is a work of fantastic, almostinbelievable difficulty tor ompanied singers yet itOf the group of two French and: three American folk songs which ended the evening, two stood out for us. “Walking on tho GreenUljicif €3, O'Grass” in an arrangement by... . , . , . .Mi.ch.ael Hennagen called againting with a technical mastcry|on ^ rhythmic virtuosjty ^singers. It sparkled. It was win-Aidi made 'the difficulties 866TTI ot to be difficulties at all. The ffect on the audience was not.some and cute withoua. virtuoso chorus doingstounding feats but the impact /as one of true musical beauty. , ,M • * At • 1 # . I U lJiV,. recording of this work perform- ... *’cheap. Gregg Smith’s arrangement of “Red Rosy Bush” featuring contralto Adrienne Albertand handledj a., c »»■ ...with great deli y with, deftlydla* the Smith Singers sang it avohW the Mntin^,. 7ist night would be welcome Inlany libraries.Technically as difficult but for ifferent reasons is the “Lobet«n Herrn, AUe Heiden” byach which closed the first part: f the program. It was sung with [most machinelike pregsion inWill inn tn .a anlendiiflv mneetv*A group of two encores Including Randal Thompson’s “AUeht ia” sent the audience reluctantlyon its way.