Guns and Roses: Songs of War n' Peace, MCCSF Polk Street, April 18 and 19, 2015.
Hello you wonderful singers. Allow me to go back to 2004 again to talk a little more about our first Love Bites show since our latest Love Bites is still on our minds. This show was the crazy and wonderful brainchild of our AD, Stephanie Lynne Smith to present an anti-Valentine's Day program and sing about the down side of love. At that time there were 52 singers in the chorus and the bass section was divided into 9 baritones and 8 basses in the program. This was presented at the Rainbow Room of the LGBT Community Center and we did two shows that February 13. We all knew that the chorus had a good thing in this show and it has continued through this past Love Bites, our 16th annual one. I guess my point in all this is what is the best way to increase our numbers to 50 and beyond? I know that we use word of mouth and social media at this point but what are your ideas on this issue? Please send any thoughts and ideas to the membership committee.
Okay, here we go with Guns and Roses. In his welcome in the program, our AD William Sauerland wrote, in part, "This concert gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the beauty in our lives. In a world with an ever increasing use of electronic devices, we may be forgetting to look at one another and enjoy the simple of a smile. . . . Take joy in the sublimity of our lives, be transported by the power of music, and connect with one another without the use of social media."
On this concert we were joined by the MCC Worship and Praise Team and the Vocal Ensemble of Lick-Wilmerding High School, where Billy also serves as a teacher of vocal music. The program began with us singing "Six Choral Songs to be Sung in Time of War," a song cycle by R. Vaughn Williams with text from poems by P. B. Shelley. This was a challenging piece of music for us but as we learned it in rehearsals and really listened to each other and the beauty of the music, I feel it was taken to heart by us. Next we sang a song that we had sung in the past, the beautiful "Erev Shel Shoshanim" which was sung in Hebrew. This was followed by a 13 person group of the chorus who sang "When Roses Cease to Bloom" by Christopher Enloe. In the group were Dale Danley, Kim Hargreaves, David Hathwell, Sumi Imamoto, Jason LeBrun, Van Mares, Martha Merchant, guest artist Jefferson Packer, Linda Rodriguey, Fernando Ruelos, William Sauerland, Elisa Shore and Noam Szoke.
Then the MCC Worship and Praise Team sang three songs. They were:
"I've Got Peace Like a River," "Gonna Lay Down My Burden," and "Shir LaShalom" with Elisa Shore and Wendy Tobias as soloists.
And to close out the first act the Vocal Ensemble of Lick-Wilmerding High School sang "Five Hebrew Love Songs" by Eric Whitacre. These were "Eyze Sheleg," "Kala Kalla," "Larov," Rakut," and "Temuna." They were accompanied by guest violinist Mike Jones.
We began the second half by singing a medley from the movie soundtrack of "Schindler's List" with Mike Jones on violin. Next we sang "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" by Pete Seeger with Mike Jones on violin and Jason LeBrun on flute.
Next was a trio of songs with the word rose in the titles or written by Axl Rose. The first was "The Rose" by Amanda McBroom from Bette Midler's film of the same name. This was sung by a quintet of our women, Yolanda DeByle, Martha Merchant, Ellen Miller, Elisa Shore and Johnna Walker.
Then came "The Days of Wine and Roses" by Henry Mancini from the film of the same name. This was performed by an octet composed of Dale, Sumi, Jason, Jefferson, Linda, William, Noam and Wendy.
This was followed by the most rocking song in the program "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Axl Rose of the group Guns and Roses.
Then we sang the beautiful acappella song by U2 called "M.L.K." which is a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember as we were rehearsing this song how all of us in one way or another were touched by these words and the memory of Dr. King.
The concert came to a wonderful and uplifting close with all of the singers joining to sing John Lennon's "Imagine." "Imagine all the people living life in peace, and all the world will be as one." I feel our audiences left this concert with a smile on their faces and a little hope in their hearts.
Next week will be about our collaboration with the Mill Valley Philharmonic in three concerts that we performed with them in June.
Cheers and peace, Michael Lucero