Have you heard the choir sing?
Carnegie Mellon’s concert choir performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) at Heinz Hall on Friday night. The program was titled “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and featured the music of French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and musical theater lyricist Alain Boublil, who collaborated to produce such musical masterpieces as Miss Saigon and Les Misérables. The concert was a musical review-style show that featured the concert choir and six professional soloists.
Conducted by Jack Everly, the principal pops conductor with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the PSO made music at its best. Schönberg’s melodies were played so beautifully and with such emotion, they warmed the hearts of audience members. Favorite songs such as “Master of the House,” “Bring Him Home,” and “One Day More” did not disappoint.
The soloist lineup for this performance was quite interesting and featured talented, young Broadway stars as well as the renowned theater veteran Terrence Mann. The list of performers included Broadway performers Eric Kunze, Jennifer Paz, Kathy Voytko, Marie Zamora, and Ben Crawford.
Unfortunately, Mann incurred vocal injuries after the first performance on Thursday night and was unable to perform all of his scheduled numbers on Friday. While he did visit the stage to give a charismatic performance of “Master of the House” and say a few words, it was disappointing that he could not sing the famous Les Mis ballad, “Stars.”
In the absence of Mann, however, Crawford did not disappoint. The young singer was recruited to fill in for Mann for the remainder of the show’s run, which continued through Sunday. Crawford’s rendition of “Stars” was stunning. He sang with grand emotion and beautiful phrasing, and his voice rang throughout the theater. He had a clear, strong baritone sound that earned him a rousing ovation from the packed house.
The other soloists were not very engaging. Voytko did give an impressive performance of the new song “Maybe,” which will be premiered in the 2013 revival of Miss Saigon. However, Zamora and Paz were less impressive. They seemed to lack the vocal strength required to fill a space with the grand music of Schönberg and Boublil. Unfortunately, Paz and Voytko’s joint rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” at the end of Act 1 was disappointing. Their pop version was influenced by the television show Glee, which may have engaged the audience if done well, but the singing was imprecise.
Overall, the program’s soloists were successfully aided by the Carnegie Mellon Concert Choir. Directed by Carnegie Mellon’s director of choral studies Robert Page, the choir did not disappoint: The musicality they presented was evident throughout the performance. It was obvious that each member was extremely dedicated to and engaged with the music. The shining moments for the choir were in the songs “One Day More” and “Do You Hear the People Sing.” The chorus was also very engaging during “Master of the House.”
In all, the PSO’s “Do You Hear the People Sing?” was an entertaining night of music. The musicians played with remarkable beauty and presented this beloved music at its best.