Experience pieces of classical music

Those already familiar with Bach, Beethoven and Brahms along with other spectators, gathered in Pierce College’s Theater on the Hill around 8 p.m. to hear the San Fernando Valley Master Chorale perform a German Festival Concert on Saturday.
The musicians performed in collaboration for the third time with the Los Angeles Valley College Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. The play, which was originally performed at Valley College in October to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the unification of Germany, marked the third collaboration of the college’s choir groups.
The night opened with variations of classical music pieces performed by each group, emphasizing their melodic sounds both independently and as a unit. The second act opened with A Day in the Life of Johann S. Bach, radio skit followed by several classical pieces performed in German including Johannes Brahm’s Schicksalslied, Felix Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise, J.S. Bach’s Singet dem Herrn and Ludwig von Beethoven’s Egmont Overture.
The radio skit chronicled Bach’s composing woes and filled the crowd with laughter.  Approximately 45 musicians with their basses, cellos, clarinets, violins and violas filled the stage along with more than 50 choir members from both Valley and Pierce.
 The group altogether performed more than nine songs included several Chorale solos and one quartet.   “People were packed into the hall way before it started,” said Sally Burman, Associate Principle Violinist. “The turnout was great. I love the enthusiasm.” Burman, along with Valley’s Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra opened the concert with the night’s highly anticipated conductor. Artistic Director and founder of the San Fernando Valley Master Chorale, Terry Danne who received his Master’s Degree from Indiana University, first started conducting when he was in college came to Pierce as an Arts Administrator to lead the Philharmonic Choir. Although Danne hoped for a sold out concert, he was still pleased with the energetic crowd.
 “Overall I feel that tonight was a great night”. Danne felt that the preparation for the event was difficult since both groups had two weeks in between performances, until they joined on stage again, yet was amazed how everything came together.
“The music is difficult but overall we have a great choir and I am very pleased, ” said Dr. Donald Caldwell, Assistant Director, played a major role in the concert through conducting a symphony during the performance, narrating the Day in the Life of Johann S. Bach radio skit and singing along with the choir for the first time.
Though very familiar with German, he had never sung with the group even though he was mainly a singer during the concert. “I’m mostly singing now although I’ve had more experience conducting with the group. It’s fun, I was on the other side of the fence tonight and I enjoyed it.”
Featured Soloist, Jenny Gattone, who recently joined the group made her debut that night as she serenaded the audience in German with Clara Schuman’s Liebst du Gattone, who received positive responses from the audience after her performance enjoyed the concert’s artistic creativity overall.
 ” I think it went really well. It was an excellent choice of music. It so cool to sing with a full orchestra and I really enjoyed the whole program.”   One Pierce College student, Jasmine Cook, who had already seen the large group over at Valley College made sure to sit in the front row to view her sister’s performance again.
” I was very excited. It was so good the first time that I wanted to come again. It’s an incredible experience. It feels as if the music is right in front of you and it sounds beautiful.”
The Philharmonic Choir and Premiere Choral will return to Pierce’s theater Dec. 18 to perform traditional music for the upcoming holidays, Christmas and Hannukah.   Washburn enjoyed attending the concert and always looks forward to both musical groups putting on a show together.
“The performance was delightful. I was pleased to be serenaded by this special performance by both Valley and Pierce College’s music departments.”

Conductor Terry Danne at the San Fernando Valley Master Chorale and Premiere Chamber Chorale at Pierce College’s “Theater on the Hill” on Nov. 13, 2010 for an entertaining, musical Friday night. (Leah Austin)