Public relations officer
It is a calculated choice for a reflective and meditative music program: The Promise appearing at Evensong (Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, May 3) with its sleeves, literally, rolled up.
The vocal ensemble, in its first concert of the year, looks at home. White shirts worn out over black pants (predominately) and black accessories including a look-a-like fedora flaunt fashion rules, while the practice of sitting on the stairs during solo items does the same for rules of decorum.
I enjoy the informality, as do Ben Chadbond and Kent Lock, who smile knowingly at each other during the "dum" "dum" "dum" of their bass line in "Witness."
Earlier, tenor Levi Gardner does not let a microphone change during the middle of his piano and vocal solo faze him, while later, director Dr Robb Dennis joins the basses and tenors for a first performance of the Phillips Craig and Dean classic, "Shine on us." Despite a slight rhythmic unease in the first verse, the quintet gains confidence and strength--the warmth and richness of the harmonies is soothing.
Robb introduces more new music with the Baroque-like "Lord my God, assist me know," sung in a contrapuntal style and with new pianist Shana Oaklands as feature, and the hymn-like "Beautiful Saviour," which begins with a solo from alto Elyse Taylor and a sustained chordal "ooh."
"Ride on King Jesus" is fun and playful but more could be made of the syncopated feel (and the ensemble should look as lively as it did during "Witness").
The serene "Irish blessing" follows and, with a bass line descending by semitones, is an appropriate way to end. The sopranos sparkle.
The reputation The Promise has earned for the quality of its music--evident during this performance--precludes any of the informalities from becoming faux pas. The ensemble continues to impress and, now, begins to surprise.