Cathedral Echoes was the title of Monday night’s program by Schola Cantorum, and it appropriately set the mood for a grand evening of choral music.
Actually, two choral groups sang in Arborlawn United Methodist Church: the adult Schola Cantorum and the student Keller High School Chanteurs Varsity Treble Choir. The latter is an all-girl ensemble that provided some of the most moving music of the evening.
Schola Cantorum presented several masterpieces: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor, Handel’s Chandos Anthem No. 4 — Sing Unto the Lord, and Bruckner’s Christus factus est. That last was conducted Schola assistant conductor Robert Ward; music director Jerry McCoy took most of the rest of the program.
The heftiest work of the evening was the Vaughan Williams Mass. Sung a cappella by Schola Cantorum, it proved to be an impressive vehicle for McCoy’s disciplined group. It was subtle throughout, with dramatic passages often spine-tingling and quieter moments having their own positive effect.
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A brief, beautiful work, Dan Forrest’s Entreat Me Not to Leave You, followed the Vaughan Williams as an emotional cap to the first half of the program. Forrest’s composition is inspired by a passage from the Old Testament book of Ruth.
Handel’s anthem, whose organ accompaniment was a rare departure for a mostly a cappella evening, was often grand, with a final section that brought to mind some of the choral work of his Messiah.
The Keller students were conducted by Chi-Chi King, who is obviously a highly skilled musical tutor. Their varied musical numbers were subtle and lovely and impressively disciplined.
The two choral groups, student and adult, got together for the final work of the evening, the joyous Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal. The singers formed a circle around the audience to add a little extramusical drama to the performance.