Cream City Chorus, “One World, Dare to Dream.”
The Wisconsin Cream City Chorus winter concert was held Saturday, December 13, at the Unitarian Universalist Church West, in Brookfield. This church has a nice space, but acoustics are not perfect, so we went early to get good seats. As usual, we saw a lot of friends there, so there was plenty of chatting to fill the time before the show started.
The concert title was "One World: Dare to Dream," and, while not exactly a holiday concert, seasonal songs along the general theme of "give us peace" were included. WCCC concerts are frequently "signed" for the hearing impaired, and this time we were interested to see that signing was to be done by members of a UWM ASL class, which made it a learning experience as well.
The concert's first session started off with "One World," by Mark Hayes, followed by "One Tin Soldier," with a very nice solos by Hillary Giffen and Chuck Ellingson. "Wage Peace" was a very engaging and interesting piece with some quirky and thoughtful lyrics.
Digression: The construction "wage peace" reminds me that, oddly enough, in ordinary usage, the only time we use "wage" as a verb is in "wage war." (Ditto "wreak" is only ever "wreak havoc"--.) --Which also lead me to contemplate that the only time we refer to "wages" other than in actual discussion of salaries is the quotation “the wages of sin is death.” It seems to me that there’s a connection there, but I’m not sure where--.
The second half of the first part had a medley of bell-themed songs, with the pleasant “Ding-a Ding-a Ding,” by Greg Gilpin, and a very entertaining piece called “Jumble Bells,” which turned the familiar “Jingle Bells” tune upside down, inside out and rotated it through Pig Latin. These were followed by the “Carol of the Bells” (“Hark, How the Bells”), and a version of “Christmas Bells” (here titled “Peace on Earth,”)(“I heard the bells on Christmas Day”) which had the familiar Longfellow words done to the tune of “The Water is Wide,” which was interesting, but I wondered why depart from the more traditional tune? In accordance with the WCCC’s mission of tolerance and acceptance, Longfellow’s words were mildly bowdlerized, but not shockingly so. Performing this operation successfully on “O Holy Night,” which closed the first half, was a bit more of a stretch.
The second section was more distinctly multicultural, with the chorus member coming out in varied ethnic dress. The starting piece, “Baba Yetu,” was sung entirely in Swahili, which was an impressive performance. There was very nice vocal work on all the remaining parts, including “Tikkun Olam,” based on a Hebrew prayer, and “Bidi Bom,” a Hanukkah song.
The chorus was well rehearsed by Director Kristen Weber, and well supported by accompanist J. Ruben Piirainen. There was a pleasant reception afterward that gave us a chance to congratulate the choristers on their performance.