A Magical Evening

REVIEW:  Superstar soprano Renée Fleming and singer/actor Norm Lewis recently headlined concert with Choral Arts.  (Photo Credit:  Russell Hirschon)

by Patrick D. McCoy

Imagine yourself on a moon-lit night, soaking in the radiance of the universe.   In a recent concert themed “Some Enchanted Evening” the stars certainly shined bright as two celebrated singers joined the Choral Arts Society of Washington for a special concert of music for the American songbook. Opera’s beloved soprano Renée Fleming, star of Broadway and Television-singer Norm Lewis joined Choral Arts under the direction of Scott Tucker for a truly magical evening.

In the opening Preludium from “The Sound of Music” the women of the chorus immediately transported the listener to a place of heavenly serenity.  As the voices sang the text ‘Dixit Dominus’ there was the sense of a sacred joy that was almost untouchable-an escape from the current climate of our society.  Lisa Joy Summers gave the feel of a cantor, delivering the text fluently, as well as melodiously.  A jubilant ‘Alleluja’ and final ‘Amen’ was a confident affirmation of what was to come-in what was already shaping up to be a great program.  As the orchestra began to play the opening strains of “The Sound of Music” Ms. Fleming arrived to the stage to much excitement from the audience.  No stranger to styles of music outside of the classical canon, Fleming was right at home.  She knew exactly how much of the microphone to use.  Whether her vocal delivery was sultry and jazz like or a glimpse into her operatic glory:  Fleming certainly set the stage for what was to come in this enchanting evening of music.

There were wonderful combinations that showcased the Choral Arts voices to stunning effect.  In “Maria”, Dana R. H. Crepeau and Karen Doyne sang with enjoyable confidence. In particular Julie Ciamporcero  Avetta, the third of the trio ‘debuted’ a solo voice that is certainly one to watch.   The Choral Arts Youth Chorus joining Ms. Fleming and the orchestra in several selections was certainly a nice touch.  “Getting to Know You” was particularly charming, with the young voices mingled with the soaring soprano of Fleming.

Norm Lewis displayed his musical prowess with his impressive voice!  The program listed him as a baritone, but his opening solo “I Have Dreamed” found the star of Broadway and the hit show “Scandal” in fine form.  Whether it was in his lower register or the bright shimmering tones of his upper register, Lewis certainly shined brightly among all the musical stars of the evening.  During Fleming’s rendering of “Shall We Dance”  Lewis joined her for an impromptu dance, which was a big hit with the packed audience!  The first half of the concert ended with the rousing “Oklahoma”  sung by Lewis, Fleming and Choral Arts.

The second half of the concert continued with more beloved chestnuts from the American songbook.   The Choral Arts Men joined Norm Lewis for the beloved standard.  “Ol’ Man River” from “Showboat.”  More of a solo for a bass, Lewis made it work.  There seemed to be more ease at the top of his range in this selection than the bottom.  Combined with the sonorous voices of the men and Lewis’ engaging presence the selection went over well with the audience.

Fleming held the audience captive as she swooped on the stage in the most regal, elegant gown for her solo “Over the Rainbow.”  Lyrical singing and emotion marked the rendering of this beloved classic, to the delight of the audience.  After a few more choral selections and duets from Fleming and Lewis, the evening was well on its way to an unforgettable close.

Returning to the stage solo, soprano Renée Fleming  and Choral Arts took the evening home with the moving:  “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Recently named among the Forty Under 40 for his contributions to arts and humanities, Patrick D. McCoy received a B.M. in vocal performance from Virginia State University and a M.M. in church music from the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va. , where he serves on the alumni board of directors. He has contributed arts and culture pieces to CBS Washington, The Afro-American Newspaper and the newly published book, “In Spite of the Drawbacks” (Association of Black Women Historians), which includes his chapter on legendary soprano Leontyne Price. McCoy has interviewed some of the most acclaimed artists of our time, including Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, Martina Arroyo, Denyce Graves, Eric Owens, Norman Scribner, Julian Wachner, Christine Brewer and Lawrence Brownlee. He most recently served as music director at Trinity Episcopal Church, DC. Listen to these interviews and others at Blog Talk Radio. Additionally, he is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America. McCoy may be reached via email at wlperformingarts@aol.com and on Twitter @PatrickDMcCoy.




3 Responses to “A Magical Evening”

  1. Carmean Johnson Says:

    Only wish I could have been there! Pleased to say that my daughter and some of my very best friends were!


  2. John Keyser Says:

    My first time at the Kennedy Center and certainly was not disappointed. Definitely an enchanting evening!


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