By Hannah Stafford, News Editor
The Asbury Chorale has made quite a name for itself over the last several years, from traveling across the Atlantic for a week-long residency in Bristol, England, to leading services at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Closer to home, however, this audition-only, vocal ensemble has recently become a returning guest performer of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. On Saturday, Sept. 16, the musicians performed a stunning sixth concert with Lexington’s prestigious orchestra, alongside choirs from Eastern Kentucky University and Lafayette High School.
“It was great to collaborate with old friends on such an enriching piece of music,” said sophomore Victoria Hall who is a current Chorale member and graduate of Lafayette High School. “The concert had a whole new level of meaning not just because of the gorgeous harmonies of Ravel but because of the two worlds that merged into one for a new musical memory.”
The concert was held at 7:30 p.m. at the Singletary Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Kentucky’s campus. Ticket prices ranged from $25 to $75, and a nearly-packed concert house showed that price mattered little to the people of central Kentucky who wanted to enjoy some quality music.
Saturday’s performance, entitled “Bright,” opened the Philharmonic’s 2017-2018 concert season, and included “Bright Blue Music” by Michael Torke, “Piano Concerto” by Edvard Grieg, “Four Dances from Estancia” by Alberto Ginastera and “Daphnes and Chloe” by Maurice Ravel. “Daphnes and Chloe” is the only piece that includes the choir, but even then, it employs the voices uniquely without a text. Vicki Bell, conductor of the Chorale, has found the work to be challenging in multiple ways.
“Our first challenge was to learn the music for the concert while maintaining our preparation for on-campus performances,” Bell said. “A second challenge was ‘assembly.’ We had only two rehearsals to combine choirs, adapt to orchestral colors and adjust to the acoustics of the concert hall.”
Despite these difficulties, the choir performed brilliantly and the entire concert received raving reviews from local music critics.
“This [Ravel’s Daphnes and Chloe] was the most technically challenging offering of the evening, and the most brilliantly rendered,” said highly-respected music critic, Tedrin Blair Lindsey in his review for the Lexington Herald. “Ravel’s rapturous music received the ecstatic performance it requires, with effortlessly swirling strings, rich woodwind colors, exciting brass interjections, exotic touches of percussion, and the wordless chanting of the chorus in the climactic moments.”
Dr. Bell was equally pleased with the performance and, as always found the end result to be worth the effort.
“I enjoy the challenge of working with professional musicians, as well as the collaboration with singers from other universities,” Bell said. “When we sing, we use our voices to glorify God, regardless of the setting. My hope, as always, is to give Asbury singers an opportunity to use their God-given gifts as they experience the best that our musical community has to offer.”