Delivering The Divine

Magnificently moving music: Bosque Chorale presents stirring spirituals in spring concert “Standing on the Promises” to full house at the Bosque Arts Center’s Frazier Performance Hall

CLIFTON – Sometimes music is what one needs to lift one’s spirits; and music can feed the soul like nothing else can. Truly food for the soul, the Bosque Chorale’s spring concert “Standing on the Promises,” with its soulful and therapeutic anthems left the audience thrilled, thankful and inspired.

Adjectives like jubilant, exulted, rejoicing, triumphal came to mind when listening to the eight song concert which featured stirring spiritual songs and moving gospels with melodies and lyrics that filled the nearly sold out Frazier Performance Hall at the Bosque Arts Center in Clifton last Saturday.

Under Maestro David Anavitarte’s passionate direction, the nearly 40 dedicated choir members rose to another level of excellence with the moving spiritual songs praising God, bringing divine music indeed; also thanks to the Frazier Performance Hall’s superior acoustics. The magnificent and rejoicing “I’ve just seen Jesus,” and the beloved spiritual “Hold On” seemed perfect for this period surrounding Easter, describing Jesus’ death and resurrection, and its meaning for Christians worldwide.

This year marks the 10th year of Anavitarte’s directorship, and the choir members respect, and greatly appreciate his expert and impassioned guidance. According to long time choir member Marsha Brown, who also welcomed the audience to the wonderful evening of music, Anavitarte uses unique descriptive images during practices to get his intention across for a song, like “melting ice cream on a hot pavement,” for the so, so soft, melancholy beautiful beginning of “I’ve Just Seen Jesus.” It was the evening’s finale song, and what an impressive finale it was.

“This last song is the most powerful song, and I truly hope you have found Jesus during this concert,” Anavitarte said. “Winds of strife are blowing, and if you put your faith in man, you’re in trouble. Put your faith in Jesus; he died for us.”

And that message shone through each of the evening’s anthems. With roots in the Antebellum South, many of the evening’s songs African rhythms, giving them a jazzy undertone, with syncopation, counterpoints, call and answer passages. Dr. Cameron Hofmann took center stage this concert, added the jazzy syncopation with the BAC’s splendid Chickering grand piano.

A senior lecturer in collaborative piano at Baylor University in Waco, Hofmann often accompanies the Bosque Chorale in their concerts. A collaborative pianist, organist, and vocal coach with a Bachelor of Arts from California State University, Stanislaus and an Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Minnesota. An accompanist for opera and international competitions with previous staff positions at the University of Minnesota and Yuba College, Hofmann collaborated in concert series throughout the United States, Italy and Slovenia.

The jazzy rhythms did take the Chorale off the familiar choir path.

“David makes us reach a little bit further every time,” Longtime choir member Punky Penberthy said, claiming “Go Down Moses” would nearly kill her. “For most of us, these spirituals are not a natural way to sing.”

One of the eight newer chorale members, Michel Mitchell’s favorite song of the concert turned out to be “Go Down Moses.” While it required most practice, the chorale soared with the monumental, jazzy Passover spiritual with the message “Pharaoh, let my people go.” She was thankful for the intensive practice though, because the song and its message to trust in Jesus would otherwise render her too emotional, affecting her singing voice.

“Practices are pretty intense,” Second Soprano Mitchell said. “But he pulls out the best in us. And we get better and better with each rehearsal.”

Mitchell loves to sing, and has been singing in choirs since she was 13 years old. It was only until last year that her schedule opened up enough for her to dedicate the time necessary for the choir practices. As much as she loves the experience of performing for an appreciative audience, Mitchell especially loves the rehearsals, and the learning and fellowship they bring.

After the vibrant and highly spirited song “Standing on the Promises” – the concert’s name, Anavitarte offered the choir some exceptional praise during a concert with “Not bad,” accompanied with a broad smile. The exceptional arrangement brought a dynamic, invigorating and moving gospel song. It segued into some audience participation, offering the choir some rest, with the songs “Sweet By and By” and “Do Lord.”

Meridian’s Band Director Daniel Yguerabide brought his youthful “Not so Jazzy Jazzband” students to the concert, filling two rows with youthful energy. “I like to expose them to a lot of different music,” Mr. Y. said “This group loves that extra stuff and wants to learn more. They just love doing stuff together.”

The youth and their director recognized the chorale’s superior quality and were clearly impressed with the Chorale’s inspirational, moving music. “I am so glad to see the gospel spread like this,” Meridian High School eighth grader Colby Cunningham said, summing up the chorale concert enthusiastically, and giving voice to what a lot of the audience felt. “It was excellent.”


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