“Sunset Serenade”, the recent concert by the MMA choir, was an enjoyable journey through musical history
Sunset Serenade”, the recent concert by the Madras Musical Association choir, began with the works of Handel and Mozart and ended with Sir Elton John and Freddie Mercury. With some Brahms waltzes thrown in and dancers twirling on stage alongside the singers for a part of the evening, the show held in aid of the Little Sisters of the Poor certainly lived up to its billing as a musical gala.
The first half of the concert saw the four-voice choir neatly clad in formal black as they worked their way through the renaissance, baroque, classical and romantic eras of Western classical music, conducted by Augustine Paul and Samuel Grubb. In chronological order, they performed the works of some of the most outstanding composers of each period, opening with William Byrd’s ‘Look Down O Lord’, accompanied by Edwin Roy on the piano. While a mite tentative in parts at the outset, the singing gained cohesion and clarity by the second piece, Handel’s melodious ‘O Father Whose Mighty Power’ and had settled in well by Mozart’s ‘Gloria from Twelfth Mass’.
The lilting ‘Come Gentle Spring’ by Haydn was the perfect follow-up to that complex composition, and the perfect lead-in to Mendelssohn’s sweetly rousing ‘Hear my prayer’. Featuring a very well-done solo by soprano Anisha Simon, this was one of the most beautiful pieces in the programme, with the closing number of the first half, the moving ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’ by John Rutter, being a close second.
The change in tone for the second half was indicated by the choir members coming out dressed in smart casuals following the intermission. The promised ‘cutting loose’ didn’t happen immediately though, as a medley of waltzes by Brahms went on for rather long and failed to generate much energy. The accompanying dances by choreographer Andrea Jacob and her group were entertaining enough, but it often seemed like there wasn’t enough room for everyone on stage and that they were all headed on a collision course (which, to the credit of all concerned, didn’t actually happen).
Beautiful choral arrangements
But the next three pieces — beautiful choral arrangements of the hugely popular ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ from The Lion King and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Music of the night’, and an ambitious reworking of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ — more than made up for it. Joined by the band Blue Note, the singers spread out on stage, mingling with the dancers, swaying along to the music. By the grand finale, the singers had sportingly joined the dancers, moving to Duke Ellington’s peppy ‘It don’t mean a thing’.
In all, ‘Sunset Serenade’ was more than just a choral concert — it was a mini journey through musical history, and an entertaining musical spectacle. Most importantly, it raised money for the reconstruction of The Home for the Aged run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. You couldn’t ask for more.DIVYA KUMAR