It was the opening program of Collage VII, a collaborative performance of the Masterworks Chorale, under the artistic direction and baton of Timothy Cloeter, and the Ballet Theatre of Toledo, led by Nigel Burgoine. The music from around the world and the lovely ballet together transported us to heaven.
The Four Points Off, a versatile barbershop quartet, whose members met through the Men's Chorus at BGSU, brought us down to earth with wonderful renditions of After You've Gone, Irish Lullaby, and John Denver's Take me Home, Country Roads. It was hard to keep from standing up and singing along, so engaging were the intricate harmonies.
Then we floated up again to the iconic classical jazz tune of My Funny Valentine, accompanied by a love dance duet that was as sweet as honey, followed by another jazz standard, Sweet Georgia Brown, with a solo by Gwen Senerius. Love knows no boundaries.
The riffing on the theme knew no boundaries either. The ALMA Dance Experience (Yaya Kabo, artistic director) rocked the house with West African sounds and movements, powerful dancing and drumming. I loved that these dancers were real women of all shapes and ages dancing their hearts out, soulful and sensuous. They embodied an ageless beauty that truly inspired. The Four Points Off returned with Mellow, My Baby, Darkness on the Delta, and Coney Island Baby, covering a geography of musical traditions. Call and response. Perfect!
Such an intelligent and creative selection of songs and pairings of performances, one flowing into another; such a diversity of musical and dance traditions; so many different voices! And yet, this thoughtful program, from beginning to end, trumpeted the sounds of a humanity united, of harmonious relations across cultures and borders. "I hear the Harps Eternal."
Collage VII: One World, Many Voices
Tim Cloeter, Artistic Director and Conductor
The Valentine Theater, Toledo, Ohio
May 31, 2014