The Sonatrice Singers women’s choir performed their 46th annual spring concert last week, inviting audiences to hear “And The Song Goes On” at the Carman Collegiate Community Theatre on April 26 and 27. (EMILY STOBBE-WIEBE)
They’ve done it again: the Sonatrice Singers have put together another stunning concert called “And The Song Goes On” filled with tunes across genres, from jazz, folk and pop to salsa. The choir, now in its forty-sixth season, held its spring concert April 26 and 27 at the Carman Collegiate Community Theatre and is directed by Brenda Doell with accompaniment by pianist Audrey Myers, bassist Bob Marginet and percussionist Sam Tomlin.
The concert opened with an enthusiastic medley “Nothing Could be Finer: Those Fabulous 40s!” arranged by Greg Gilpin. This medley features several hits from the ’40s including “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,” “Jersey Bounce,” “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Sante Fe,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” and “Tuxedo Junction.”
The choir’s bouncy demeanor showed in their choreography where they bobbed in time, talked on their ‘telephones,’ saluted the audience, and brought the ‘choo choo’ of the Chattanooga to the Carman Collegiate theatre with the gusto of the ’40s.
A trio sang the World War II jump blues hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” originally by the Andrews Sisters. The trio, comprised of Linda McKinnon, Barb Stevens, and Clarice Gilchrist, performed this difficult piece with passion and precision with tight harmonies and syncopated rhythms.
Sonatrice took the audience along as they fast-forwarded to the music of Billy Joel – “And So It Goes” – recorded in 1989. The song began simply and starkly as soloist Sarah Martens opened the piece. The music swelled with emotion as the lighting and dynamics rose, adding dissonance and tension, reflecting the sorrowful tone of the song’s lyrics.
The heart-wrenchingly mystical “The Seal’s Lullaby,” adapted by Eric Whitacre from the story “The Seal Lullaby” by Rudyard Kipling, was one of the best pieces of the night. The song tells the story of a mother seal who tells her pup both that the sea is dangerous but also that they will be safe. This tension is reflected by the dissonant harmonies, showcasing the swelling dynamics to great effect, reflecting the wind and the waves in the lyrics, flowing like the “slow swinging seas.”
The first set went out with a bang with Elton John’s “Shine” written for the 2000 film Billy Elliot. Choreography and bright lighting amped up the excitement for both the choir and the audience.
The second set featured many fun-loving songs including “Viva La Cookery Maid” – a Traditional Folk song arranged by Walter Ehret and sang by the trio Sandra Single, Sarah Martens, and Lori-Ann Kaminski. The trio came out in costume, wearing aprons and chef’s hats to sing this dramatic number filled with acting and full-bellied laughs (if not full-stomached – the song is about a terrible cook, after all!).
The next ensemble featured costumes too as the sextet brought out a suitcase and put on sunhats for “Sand in My Shoes:” a song about going on vacation in winter and leaving one’s lover behind in the cold. “Hotta Chocolatta,” sung by the whole choir, got the crowd involved as they laughed as the choir clinked glasses of hot chocolate enthusiastically in this staccato number.
Like the emcee said, the next song was a hot one! “Salsa Picante!” is a Latin-flavoured piece filled with percussion played by choir members on the maracas and drums and whoops and hollers, sounding like a raucous party. The singers were obviously having a lot of fun and so was the audience.
As the concert drew to a close, the Sonatrice Singers were in top form, pulling out a Traditional Folk song from 1700s England called “Oh Dear! (What Can the Matter Be?).” Soloist Sandra Single invited the audience into the drama of the life of a woman whose lover went to the fair and hasn’t come back yet. The choir sang conspiratorially to one another and the audience, pleading at one moment and chastising the next.
The concert finale was by Jean McKen “I Am Song – Je Suis Chanson.” This song uses the metaphor of song to invite the hearer into a unified although diverse Canada. The melody and harmony, representing the unity and diversity of Canadians, echoed the key message of the song found in the lyrics toward the end: “We are one and we are song.” This powerful anthem garnered a standing ovation after which the choir performed a reprise of “I Am Song – Je Suis Chanson,” swaying arm in arm.
The Sonatrice Singers performed enthusiastically, always with a sparkle of fun in their eyes as well as a heart for important issues like the state of the homeless and the pain of heartbreak, leaving the audience with the sense that, like the title of the concert, “The Song Goes On.”