Thursday, April 2, 2009

2009 ACDA Convention: Down in the (Green) Valley with Claudio Monteverdi (Mr. Green Mountain)

(line drawing of Monteverdi, apparently with his neck painfully stuck inside a giant Krispy Kreme- come on now, this can't be historically accurate)

2009 ACDA national convention: Performances by high school choirs can sometimes be a yawn at ACDA conventions, but they can also be real eye-openers too. So we were afforded a pleasant surprise by the Green Valley High School Madrigal/Chamber Singers from Nevada, directed by Kimberly Barclay Drusedum. Their program included some Eric Whitacre and Dan Gawthrop, but their real strong point was an amazing dexterity, clarity, and complete understanding of all aspects of madrigal singing in pieces by Wilbye, Sweelink, and Monteverdi. Monteverdi's Si ch'io vorrei morire was especially breathtaking- not a short piece and quite difficult- yet they sang it as if they had lived past lives in the Italian musical renaissance. Contrapuntal lines were all there to be heard, no muddiness- just exceptional singing. I especially appreciated that the many descending sequences this piece contains never went flat- quite an achievement for a group of such young singers. Bravo, Ms. Drusedum.

Their final piece was a vocal version (along the lines of Ward Swingle's Flight of the Bumblebee) of The Barber of Seville, with manic application of hilarious vocal pomades, funky (cow)licks, close shaves with hairy cadences, and other barbarous musical shtick- all great fun as arranged by Daryl Runswick ("Daryl, I officially hate you- I wish I had written this arrangement").

(Kimberly Barclay Drusedum)

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