Music blooms at Moores red carnation concert

Between the graduating seniors wearing them and the many wonderful performances, the Red Carnation Concert bloomed wonderfully Thursday at the Moores Opera House.

Perhaps the most wonderful part of the show involved more than just the color red, but an entire Rainbow Connection. The Men of Moores was the highlight of the night with their wonderfully moving rendition of a song originally performed by a Muppet, yet brought to life by an incredible harmony spearheaded by a moving solo.

A massive concert featuring nine different groups, singing double the arrangement at a brisk pace, the show opened with the University Women’s Chorus performing an Estonian folk song, “Lauliku Lapsepõli.” It was a bit of an odd choice to open the show. Between the dreary, almost mysterious tune, to groups of performers entering the stage and encircling a smaller group at center stage, it created a creepy but intriguing opening that left me curious for what else the night had in store. The chorus finished up with a good one-two Latin punch of “Ave Maria” and “Et Resurrexit,” which was followed by the weak card of the evening.

The men’s a cappella group, Bob’s Your Uncle, followed with an arrangement of the classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” tune, “Pure Imagination,” and it was doomed from the start. Setting aside the off-key false start of the soloist, this particular arrangement, sung by Gene Wilder, is just not my preference — the entire piece is slow and smooth, to the point where the song loses its original ebb and flow, and in essence, its energy. If there was a bright spot, the group performed beautifully after the false start, though the arrangement was still a turn-off.

Also a turn-off was The Moores School Concert Chorale’s opening number, the Beatles’ “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da,” though that is more of preference for the original over the arrangement, rather than the performance. The performance itself was energetic, and the bit with the clothesbaskets was clever. On the other hand, the women’s a cappella group, the Acabellas, surprised me by making me enjoy a Britney Spears song, “Crazy.” With some fun and some energy, the group turned a song that drives me crazy into one that left me wanting more.

The ManChoir also left everyone wanting more with their entire set, from the manly and powerful “Do You Fear the Wind?” to an excellent rendition with Timothy Jones providing a wonderful, entertaining baritone solo. Their last number, the Appalachian folk song, “Cripple Creek,” was a bit disappointing, as the men were a bit sluggish and seemed to be losing steam. They finished the song on a stronger note than when they started.

Rounding out the night, the a cappella groups Floreat and Ardore — the former with a great, energetic rendition of “O, Mistress Mine!” and the latter with a moving rendition of “Misericórdias Dómini.” The Concert Women’s Chorus brought down the house with a trio of “Songs of the African American Tradition,” first, with a great set of “Freedom is Coming,” a South African tune arranged by Henry Leck, to a fun and sassy rendition of Gwyneth Walker’s “Sisters.”

The night ended with The Moores School Concert Chorale performing a pair of Scottish folk songs and a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace,” with a great solo performance by tenor Ryan Frenk, bringing a great finish to an otherwise amazing night by the choruses of the Moores School of Music.

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