By Ted AYALA
It may have been overcast and pouring outside Pasadena’s Presbyterian Church on Sunday night, but the verdant tones of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus defied the stormy weather with a program that was fragrant with spring blossoms.
The music of Benjamin Britten figured prominently in a program that spanned Baroque music, Canadian folk music, bossa nova and even the Disney film scores of Richard and Robert Sherman.
Selections from the English composer’s Friday Afternoons and Missa Brevis were given interpretations that matched youthful vulnerability with mature poise and technique. The strange, quiet, solemn power of the “Benedictus” from the Missa Brevis was dispatched with enviable fluency and breadth of expression by the chorus’s chamber singers, comprised solely of young women in their late teens.
The young children, too, displayed their craft in an attractive light with an arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Spring Song: and two brief excerpts from Friday Afternoons: “Cuckoo!” and “Begone, Dull Care.”
Surl Glick’s Hebraic-tinged setting of the Psalm 23 was given a potently expressive reading by the group’s Concert Choir, whose members are children in their early teens.
A handful of instrumentalists – Catherine del Russo (oboe), Maurice Grants (cello), Lisa Gass (bass), Bob Fernandez (percussion), and Bill Schmidt (organ) – joined the chorus, burnishing the refined music-making with their own stylish technique. The chorus’ piano accompanists, Mitsuko Morikawa and Twyla Meyer, played with great sensitivity and wit.
The start of the program began in arresting fashion with the Renaissance-era chorale “Betty Bertaux,” dispatched in antiphonal style, with the different members of the chorus coming together from different parts of the venue. Their voices, displaying great pliancy and precision, easily confirmed that the group is among the very best of its kind anywhere.