Monday, March 21, 2011

British Invasion as Sung by a Choir

Tonight, I saw a fabulous concert put on by San Mateo's Masterworks Chorale featuring music by Gordon Sumner, Farrokh Bulsarah, and Paul David Hewson. You may also know them by their stage names: Sting, Freddie Mercury, and Bono. Masterwork's "BRITISH INVASION!" concert celebrated twentieth century tunes that made their way across the pond and into the hearts of Americans. Sweetening the deal was the fact that this concert was put on in a Lutheran church. I can't remember the last time I heard bass guitar in a church, let alone to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody.

The crowd favorite soloist was the much accoladed Woodrow Thompson, who performed popular tunes like John Lennon's "Imagine" and Elton John's "Your Song", but the stand-out performer for me this evening was Nicholas Carlozzi singing the timelessly beautiful "Something", written by George Harrison...incidentally my favorite Beatle. When the tunes of the Fab Four weren't being belted out by these talented performers, they were being sung by the audience in the evening's sing-a-long portion.

Aside from the Beatles, Sting, Elton John, U2, and Queen, the performance also contained music that was not of the rock and roll persuasion. I will admit, tonight was the first time I have ever heard British music from early twentieth century composers like Roger Quilter and Geoffrey Bush. I was grateful for the informative program put together by the group which gave biographies of the artists, as well as detailed information about the songs being sung. I learned things about the composers I'd never heard of and even learned things about the artists I thought I knew everything about. Somehow, the fantastical previous life of Freddie Mercury didn't make it to my memory bank. Born in Zanzibar to Parsi parents...moved to India before emigrating to England...whole family practiced Zoroastrian religion. These are the things Magical Mystery Tours are made of, people. Now I am REALLY raring for that Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury MOVIE! Also, how did I never know that Sarah Brightman was married to Andrew Lloyd Webber?

Aside from adding "Zanzibar" to my to-do list, I've also penciled in Masterworks Chorale's April 17th performance "Love Songs & Chocolate". My husband and I decided this evening that seeing choir performances is "our thing" since our date tonight was reminiscent of a performance we saw on our honeymoon in the church in Prague pictured below. It was an excursion he talked me into and it ended up being one of the things we remember most fondly, seeing a concert under a roof that adds to the moniker "City of a Thousand Spires." Tonight was yet another reminder of how enriched my life feels when I listen to good music, and that even the rock and roll tunes we sing in the car can be sang in the houses of the Holy.

Editor's Note: Yup, I'm well aware that the inclusion of Bono in a "British" Invasion concert was inaccurate. However, the inclusion of U2's tune "MLK" in an evening that celebrated music from "across the pond" and its impact on America also demonstrated our reverse impact.

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