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BIG ARTS Community Chorus presents annual Spring Concert

By Staff | Mar 16, 2011

Spring — and voices — are in the air, which can only mean one thing: it’s time once again for the BIG ARTS Community Chorus’ annual Spring Concert.

And according to BIG ARTS Community Chorus Director Steve Cramer, this year’s program will include a wide variety of styles ranging from the old American standard “Oh! Susanna” to Italian opera, Broadway and beyond.

“I’m really proud of the chorus for enjoying and having so much fun with such difficult music. We raised the bar and they’re definitely rising to the occasion,” Cramer said. “A highlight for the chorus this year will be a double chorus arrangement called ‘Echo Song’ by Orlando di Lasso. This is a piece of music from the Renaissance period, and on stage there will be a small chorus positioned behind the larger group, echoing what the front chorus sings out. It’s a really great effect,” Cramer said.

One of the Chorus’ more whimsical pieces — “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” — will feature vocal soloist Jason LaManna and ukelele players Bill O’Brien, also a chorus member, and Tara Kane and Mariah Budd.

And because the BIG ARTS Community Chorus is currently made up of 80 voices, Cramer said Spring Concert will highlight the chorus’ power — and control — better than ever before with two extraordinarily huge vocal numbers: Giuseppe Verdi’s “Va Penisero,” featuring Jennifer Valiquette on flute and “The Promise of Living,” from Aaron Copeland’s “The Tender Land,” featuring a trio of soloists and a four-hand piano duet.

“‘The Promise of Living’ ends on a massive six-part chord with all the Chorus sopranos on a high C. It’s pretty amazing,” Cramer said.

But the real showstopper is bound to be the Chorus’ second act, semi-staged homage to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”

After intermission, the Chorus will change into country and western gear and perform selections from the 1943 Broadway musical, which was later adapted into the classic 1955 film version.

“In the past we’ve done ABBA songs from ‘Mamma Mia!’ and selections from Gilbert and Sullivan, but this year we wanted to do something entirely different,” Cramer said. “Thanks to Billy Kirkland, we even have a little surrey” — complete with fringe on top, he noted.

The second act presentation will also include an audience sing-a-long during the reprise of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” and “Oklahoma!”

Because the BIG ARTS Community Chorus and Community Band are performing separate spring shows this year (the Community Band will perform their Spring Concert on Tuesday, March 29), BIG ARTS is offering a special ticket package — a $10 ticket allows entry for one person to both the Chorus and Band performances. A $7 ticket permits entry to only one show.

“Two great community concerts for only $10 — I think it’s a pretty good deal,” Cramer said.

The BIG ARTS Community Chorus Spring Concert will take place Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in BIG ARTS’ Schein Performance Hall, 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel.