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Tuesday, 19 March 2013 21:27

Concert review: Gateway Men's Chorus at the 560 Music Center, Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16

Concert review: Gateway Men's Chorus at the 560 Music Center, Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16 facebook.com/pages/Gateway-Mens-Chorus
Written by Gary Liam Scott

Although their program was themed “Bad Boys!”, the Gateway Men’s Chorus sang good March 15 and 16 at the 560 Music Center in University City.  It was a fun program, visually exciting as well as a rhythm bash, but “fun” programs can challenge performers as equally as their more serious counterparts. 

The GMC continues the artistic growth nurtured by their fine directors over the years and currently guided by the skilled hands of current conductor Al Fischer.  Come to think of it, you could say he guides the ensemble with his head, arms, body and feet as well; Fischer is an energetic, active conductor who realizes that a director is a performer just as surely as those who produce the actual sounds.  He’s a conductor who is satisfying to watch as well as hear, as are all the performers with their onstage choreography.

One of the primary challenges facing all choruses is meeting the goal of making many voices sound like one.  Noticeable on this program was the increasing rhythmic precision the Chorus has achieved.  Even in short snappy passages the diction was uniform and well-blended.  Vocal projection was good, but seemed like it could have been even better had the group had access to different acoustics and an improved sound system.  Breath support among the voices seemed solid and secure, and the men seem to be broadening their ranges. 

Even in such a themed program, lyricism and melody were not absent.  Rufus Wainwright’s “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” was beautifully expressed (even though Rufus has a certain hypnotic appeal for listeners, I think I gotta admit I liked the GMC version of this song even better than his own), as was Cindy Lauper’s “True Colors” and the closing number, Jerome Kern’s “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man”. 

The rhythmic explosion was highlighted by special guest Fred Schneider of the B-52s, who joined the Chorus for such favorites as “Planet Claire”, “Hot Pants Explosion” (yes, with special choreography for the appropriately attired dancers onstage), “Monster” and the encore, “Love Shack”, in which the GMC was joined by flamboyant friends from Charis, the St. Louis women’s chorus. 

The energy throughout the program was palpable.  If there were any shortcomings in this group, they were more than made up by the infectious fun, goodwill and effort mustered by the performers.  The men of the GMC should be justifiably proud.

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