Choirs end year with a moving performance
Review by Doug Carroll
Photos by Alexis Bolze
GCU News Bureau
It’s probably safe to say that not too much dancing has taken place up front in First Southern Baptist Church over the years.
Grand Canyon University’s 30-voice Canyon Singers didn’t let that stop them Tuesday night in the annual Broadway and opera concert. In the choir’s highly entertaining opening set, its 15 men broke out some nice moves on the song “Church Rulez” from the show “Altar Boyz.” Then the 15 women matched them with a sharply choreographed “Raise Your Voice” from “Sister Act.”
Those two songs, performed with charm and a sense of humor, were among many highlights of the concert, which concluded the year for the Music Department. Although there was more Broadway than opera, music lovers had plenty of either genre to enjoy and rewarded GCU’s three choirs with a standing ovation at the end of more than 90 minutes.
Songs from “Sunday in the Park With George” (Stephen Sondheim), “Liza With a Z” (John Kander and Fred Ebb), “Aida” (Elton John and Tim Rice), “Newsies” (Alan Menkin) and “The Sound of Music” (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II) also were among the selections by the Canyon Singers, under the direction of Dr. Sheila Corley. Junior alto Allie Hill’s “Ring Them Bells” (from “Liza”) was a show-stopper, and senior tenor Taylor Anderson was close behind with the rocking spiritual “Run Freedom Run.”
The New Life Singers performed two songs, including a splendid “Run to You” (Pentatonix) that served as a farewell from the 17-member group. Auditions are under way for a yet-unnamed traveling choir that is expected to perform more traditional fare than the pop-oriented New Life has done. In a challenging year that saw the release of a CD (“Captivate”), the departure of its original director and a breakneck schedule of performances, New Life still made good music. Its senior leaders, Aaron Walth and Jonelle Borowy, are commended for holding the group together.
The 70-voice Canyon Chorale, directed by Dr. Juan Hernandez, led off with more Sondheim — for those who didn’t get enough from the recent GCU production of “Into the Woods” — and sang from Verdi’s “Aida” and “Il trovatore.” Solos by senior sopranos Chelsey Minkler (Puccini’s “La Canzone di Doretta”) and Natalie Shuler (the “Donde lieta” aria from “La Bohème’) were spectacular. The future in music is bright for these two.
The Chorale ended with medleys from “My Fair Lady,” George Gershwin and “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” (The latter is scheduled to be GCU’s musical next spring in Ethington Theatre.) That trifecta of great American stage music sent the audience humming into the cool spring night.
Corley, Hernandez and pianist Mark Fearey received flowers from the choirs and thunderous cheers from the audience. It has been a crazy-busy spring for Fearey, who also conducted a small orchestra for “Into the Woods” and accompanied a dozen GCU student recitals. He is in his second year as a full-time instructor at the University and also serves as music director for Valley Youth Theatre, Abiding Savior Community Church in Tempe and the local opera-education group Operatunity.
That’s a guy whose fingers have earned a rest.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].