The South Florida Gay Men's Chorus delivered yet another outstanding concert at Fort Lauderdale's Sunshine Cathedral on June 22 and 23. Entitled Take Me to the World, the concert by Artistic Director Gordon Roberts covered music inspired by various countries.
Liberally sprinkled with outstanding solos, duets and trio performances, the concert reinforced the belief that this is the best gay men's chorus in the country. "I felt as though I was experiencing a live PBS broadcast of great music," gushed one member of the audience of 500.
With a chorus of some 125 men on stage, there was a wealth to choose from when selecting members for certain songs. For several songs, the members chosen to perform on Friday night were replaced by another selection of chorus members for the Saturday night show that I attended. Among the many highlights was a rousing rendition by the three tenors of O Sole Mio, a homage to Italy.
James Schardin and Melanie SierraThe concert began with a duet by Melanie Sierra and James Schardin. SingingTake Me To The World, it set the tone for the rest of the evening with its world-encompassing theme by Stephen Sondheim. Melanie returned for two solo performances of French music and Wein, Du Stadt Meiner Traume in honour of Austria.
The Philippines was represented quite humourously by a cute song Da Coconut Nut. It was performed by an emsemble led by director Harold Dioquino. Harold returned in a singing role in the second act, but one might not have recognized him in make-up and Japanese garb. He was one of three men dressed as Japanese school girls, in a musical number from Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado. Both offerings were received with great amusement by the audience.
Matthew CainesThe dramatic songGranadawas a perfect foil for the baritone voice of Matthew Caines, one of the most popular of all the soloists featured by the Chorus. Women beside me commented several times on how handsome he is! As usual his delivery was excellent, but as he held the music, his hands were not free to express the song fully.
England was represented by the stirring Jerusalem, a poem by Milton set to music by Hubert Parry in 1916. This was followed by Never on Sunday, a song performed very campily by the trio Michael Lawrence, Kevin Novreski and LaCre Hamlet. From a 1960 Greek film, it won the Academy award for best song.
The Hebrew folk song Hava Negila made a surprise entry into the performance. Even though it was not on the program, the audience quickly got into the mood by clappling along with this vibrant tune.
The concert closed with more reflective pieces, When Johnny Comes Marching Homeand What a Wonderful World. Excellent choreography and the superb music provided by The Symphony of the Americas made the overall effect of the concert one of high professionalism.
The next concert of the Chorus will be their Christmas show on Dec. 13, 14 and 15. Visit their website for details: www.gmcsf.org.