Masterworks Concert Has Something for Everyone, Including Bluegrass

October 26, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

Review by Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau

Who said that choral concerts can’t be a hand-clapping, foot-stomping good time?

Certainly no one leaving Friday night’s Masterworks Concert by the Music Department at First Southern Baptist Church, adjacent to the Grand Canyon University campus.

Friday night's Masterworks Concert served up some surprises for the audience at First Southern Baptist Church. (Photo by Alexis Bolze)

Friday night’s Masterworks Concert served up some surprises for the audience at First Southern Baptist Church. (Photo by Alexis Bolze)

With the six-piece bluegrass band Northern Transit System supplying acoustic accompaniment, the 30-voice Canyon Singers performed roof-raising versions of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir” to bring the concert to a rousing conclusion. There was even some smart line dancing by the choir on the latter piece (you had to be there).

The 90-minute performance, which also included the Canyon Chorale and the New Life Singers, kicked off a busy stretch for GCU’s vocalists as the holiday season approaches. Next comes the Mozart opera “Cosi fan tutte,” opening on Nov. 22 in Ethington Theatre, to be followed by the third annual “Handel’s Messiah” on Dec. 5 in GCU Arena and the traditional Christmas concert on Dec. 10 at the church.

The Masterworks program led off with Haydn’s “Te Deum,” sung beautifully in Latin by the Chorale, and Leonard Bernstein’s three-part “Chichester Psalms,” arrangements of Psalms 100, 23, 2 and 131 sung in Hebrew. Two pieces from “Cosi fan tutte” demonstrated that sopranos Claire Penneau and Chelsey Minkler are a couple of very good reasons for attending the upcoming opera. They’re in it, and they’re exceptionally gifted.

New Life, whose debut album, “Captivate,” was released last month, supplied a four-song a cappella set highlighted by the call-and-response spiritual “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” and a rocking arrangement by Keith Woodside and Riley Erin of “Save the World.”

Give credit to directors Dr. Juan Hernandez (Canyon Chorale), Dr. Sheila Corley (Canyon Singers) and Gabe Salazar (New Life). They consistently choose material that challenges the students and rewards the audience.

Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or

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