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Springtime for Mozart and Broadway

Loudoun Chorale’s spring concert approaches.

Broadway and Mozart. Both are sources of much of the best known music in the world, both have entertained thousands and this spring both will be part of the Loudoun Chorale’s spring 2008 concert series, "Mozart then Broadway." The chorale will be performing Mozart’s Vespers and a selection of Broadway medleys, April 26 and 27. The show continues in the tradition of the chorale brining vocal music from all time periods together to be performed for the Loudoun area.

"The purpose of the chorale is to provide what we consider to be outstanding music to the citizens of the area. We perform all kinds of music from sacred songs to modern numbers as this Broadway performance shows," said Dave Clark, the former president of the Loudoun Chorale and a singer for the past seven years.

The chorale prides itself on performing a wide variety of songs that attract a good array of audience, though its holiday performances are usually the most popular. The group performs a winter concert series and a spring concert series with a few select performances in between.

"I think what makes the chorale so special is the repertoire of music and the level of professional music of the singers and the accompanists," said chorale alto, Jeaneatte Ghandi, who has been with the group for about two years.

This concert will be no different. Mozart’s Vespers are challenging and varying pieces that require skill and concentration to sing while the Broadway numbers are all classics that people will recognize and know well.

"All of this music that we are doing for this concert is extremely challenging," said Clark. "The Vespers will be sung in Latin and to try to put the Latin pronunciation to the tune is always a challenge. The Broadway medley has a lot of harmonic type structures. All the four pieces are extremely challenging. That’s one reason why the chorale likes them."

THE LOUDOUN Chorale was founded in 1991 as an offshoot of a small ensemble called "Music in the Valley" and has grown to become Loudoun County's largest vocal ensemble, consisting of about 60 mixed-voice singers. In recent years they have performed works from Handel, Gesualdo, Shultz, Brahms, Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, John Leavitt, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rene Clausen and Alan Hovhaness.

The group usually performs in churches around the area since most concert halls are costly to rent out. Still, Clark says that many of the churches have good acoustics in them that lend themselves well to chorale music. In fact St. David’s Episcopal Church, where the April 27 performance is being held, has just had its acoustics adjusted making for a much stronger sound.

They are an all-volunteer chorale with performers ranging from Loudoun locals to singers who live in West Virginia. The only people paid are the chorale’s director and accompanist. The director is William Propst who is serving his third year as the Loudoun Chorale’s director and who also is the director of bands at Park View High School.

"Our director is great and always makes sure we perform our best," said Ghandi.

Other than the regular accompanist, pianist Beverly Clark, the chorale has also featured performers and singers of varying types who also do full performances with the Loudoun Symphony Orchestra. Most of the time guests are a string player or other vocalist, but Clark said, that while the chorale would like to work with an entire symphony more often, at the moment, without a sponsor, that wasn’t feasible.

Singing with the chorale is far more feasible as the group has no tryouts to join, anyone who can sing well and whose voice works with the rest of the chorale is welcome to join. The group is always looking for singers and is especially in need of men, as is normal with community chorales. One of the main goals of the chorale, said Ghandi, is to give people a chance to sing at a high-quality level.

"The first year I joined I didn’t know what to expect and I was amazed at the level of quality in the chorale," said Ghandi.

"It’s the satisfaction of being able to meet and make beautiful music," said Clark, "It’s one of the great satisfactions in life. It’s awfully hard to be thinking about a problem when you’re making music because you’re focusing on the music. It’s the satisfaction, it’s the ability to move yourself from everyday problems for a while that really makes singing enjoyable."

AS FAR AS the audience enjoying themselves goes the members of the chorale just hope that they have fun at the show and find out about some new music they may have never heard. They also want a larger variety of people to enjoy and appreciate the sounds of vocal music. Ghandi says she hopes that people come away with lifted spirits and a sense of beauty from the performance.

"I guess my favorite part is the concert itself," said Clark. "Being able to see the results of all the effort we put into it. The feeling of satisfaction that we did the best we could do and hopefully people will go home with a feeling of happiness or satisfaction."