Paul’s Pick: Greenville Chorale becomes ‘An Orchestra of Voices’

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The Greenville Chorale spotlights music originally written for orchestra but transcribed for chorus in “An Orchestra of Voice,” 8 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church, Greenville. Photo provided.

Some symphonic works just seem to sing.

No surprise, then, that tuneful instrumental works have sometimes been adapted for voice.

The Greenville Chorale’s program “An Orchestra of Voices” spotlights music originally written for orchestral instruments but transcribed for chorus.

The concert, 8 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Greenville, will include Barber’s haunting “Angus Dei,” adapted from the American composer’s popular Adagio for Strings.

Sacred works will be offered along with lighter fare. On the wittier side of the spectrum, the chorale’s chamber ensemble will present a choral version of the “William Tell Overture” – or at least the final portion associated with “The Lone Ranger” TV show.

Not to be outdone, the full chorale will scat-sing a piece by Bach.

Among the other featured works will be choral adaptations of Dvorak’s “Largo” from his Ninth Symphony and Edward Elgar’s ‘Nimrod” from “Enigma Variations.”

“This cross-over between choral and orchestral music proves an interesting musical experience – for the singers and for the audience,” said the chorale’s longtime conductor Bingham Vick. “Over the years, some instrumental music has been re-arranged for voices alone, thus creating an entirely different sound experience for both performer and for listener.”

The chorale will be joined at the performance by the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir, an ensemble founded and directed by David Rasbach, a veteran composer, educator and sacred music director.

Guest conductor Patricia Hunt Fisher will conduct one of American composer Randall Thompson’s best-known choral pieces, “Choose Something Like a Star,” setting the Robert Frost poem. Fisher is a veteran conductor, having led the choral program at Travelers Rest High School for many years.

The chorale almost always includes some musical dessert on its program, and this one is no exception. Ernst Toch’s “Geographical Fugue” is a sort of rap song for chorus – written in 1930! – featuring only rhythmic spoken word: no melody or harmony.

“A Chorister’s Covert Concert,” meanwhile, is a humorous piece offering insight into what singers in a chorus are really thinking during a concert: They have a lot of say, for instance, about their conductor.

The concert concludes with the chorale and Rushingbrook Children’s Choir singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

“Music, and especially choral music, is a great unifying factor in our society,” Vick said. “Particularly in these days of divisiveness and disagreement, throughout the world, we need to be reminded that peace begins with each one of us. Music of lasting value will always be a part of our culture and will always be a strong and unifying element in society.”

Paul Hyde, a longtime Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

If you go

  • What: The Greenville Chorale presents “An Orchestra of Voices”
  • When: 8 p.m. Friday, April 12
  • Where: First Baptist Church, Greenville, 847 Cleveland St.
  • Tickets: $15-$30
  • Info: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org
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