Les Miserables - Chamber Choir Concert "

"Carmen Mitchell performed next as Cosette with “Castle on a Cloud.” Mitchell’s lovely voice captured the simple essence of the song."

Choir Delivers Astounding Rendition of “Les Miserables” Songs

Anna Hecht, Staff Writer May 13, 2013

With stunning French compositions, a beautiful medley of songs from “Les Miserables” and a choir that can tear the roof off the auditorium with its powerhouse voices, you simply couldn’t ask for a more splendid night.

The SRJC Concert Choir & Chamber Singers delivered with its Spring Midterm Concert at 8 p.m. May 8 in Burbank Auditorium.

The concert began with an introduction by choir director Jody Benecke, who explained to the audience that the class was studying French songs and thought featuring highlights from the play “Les Miserables” would fit well.

Starting rehearsals in late March left minimal time to prepare, but Benecke knew her students could pull it off, saying many of them have or are in the process of receiving performing degrees.

The chamber singers performed first and sang 15th century French compositions. The group moved flawlessly through songs like “Dindirin, Dindirin” and “Quant j’ai ouy la tabourin (When I heard the tambourine)” featuring soloist Danyele Crespan whose soft and lovely voice carried the tune.

The concert choir followed, featuring songs such as “La Nuit,” showcasing the goose bump-inducing voice of soloist Sandra Colindres.

Next arrived “Pavane, Op. 50,” an entertaining mixture of male and female voices singing opposing lines and then singing together. Benecke described the song as a humorous scene between the two groups where the women discuss how ridiculous they think the men are while the men say they are slaves to the women’s hearts.

“We love to love them but we love to hate them, too. We know the whole story, don’t we?” Benecke said of the women’s translated dialogue.

An intermission followed the French compositions and when it was time to assemble again on stage, the concert choir and chamber singers gathered to perform highlights from “Les Miserables.”

The ensemble first sang a lively version of “At the End of the Day” followed by “I Dreamed a Dream,” performed by Margaret Starr as the play’s Fantine. Starr’s deep vocals brought a unique and haunting feeling to the song.

Carmen Mitchell performed next as Cosette with “Castle on a Cloud.” Mitchell’s lovely voice captured the simple essence of the song.

Songs such as “Master of the House” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” arrived without delay, as well as the song “A Heart Full of Love,” in which the vocal chemistry between Mitchell, Miles McKenzie as Marius and Maya Erickson as Eponine combined in harmonious ecstasy.

Other songs from the play, including “The Night (Drink with Me),” “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home,” “Turning, Turning” and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” flooded the auditorium with the singers’ impressive vocals.

To conclude the night, the group performed a finale including a reprise of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” where the soloists lined the front of the stage, marched and sang the song in unison.

When the pleasing sound of the final note hit the audience’s ears, a round of applause followed as well as a bouquet of flowers that Benecke received for her work.

The concert proved successful for Benecke. “I thought it went really well; just enough serious music and then all of this, which everyone loves, and it’s great music. Everybody is so excited that we get to do something like this because we don’t do that kind of music that often in the choir concerts, just once in a while,” Benecke said.

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