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Christmas with the Saddleback Master Chorale December 20, 2007

Posted by Peter Hornby in chorale.

For the last fourteen years, I’ve been singing with the Saddleback Master Chorale, a choir which traces its history back to a small group set up in 1963 to provide voal accompaniment to the Laguna Beach “Pageant of the Masters”. There’s a direct line from that choir to our own group – indeed, some of our members have been singing with the group for over thirty of those forty-some years.

I started in the group in early 1994 with a performance of the Bach Mass in B Minor. I hadn’t sung in a group since I left school in the early Seventies, and the emotional impact of that astounding work was overwhelming. Since then, we’ve sung a huge variety of music, from show tunes to opera choruses to the great works of the choral literature – Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi. I love the discipline of learning music at weekly rehearsals with a group of fine singers, and the spine-tingling joy you sometimes get from a combination of a great piece of music and a performance which, in some unaccountable fashion, just works.

In somewhat less exalted vein, we finished our holiday concert season last night with a “Words and Music” performance at Irvine Heritage Park Library. We enjoyed ourselves, and the audience had a good time too, I think. The group, now about 25 singers, has come together well in the last year, both musically and socially, and most of us continued the party at a local bar after the show.

Next up for the group is an April concert entitled “A Tribute to Our Poets”. If you’ve heard Randall Thompson’s arrangements of Robert Frost’s poems – “Choose Something Like A Star” or “The Road Less Travelled” – you’ll know the kind of thing to expect.

That’s all very well, but I’ve always said that the Mass in B Minor is the one piece I’d crawl over broken glass to sing again, and there’s an opportunity coming up. Another local choir, the Concordia Master Chorale, is planning an April performance, and allegedly will welcome new singers who can demonstrate a reasonable degree of musical competence. So I’m planning to audition for them and I’m dusting off my score. It’ll be a busy musical spring, but I think I have a little time to spare…



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