2013-2014 Season Wrap-Up
The concert season of the Bloomington Chamber Singers (BCS) runs from September through early May, mirroring the academic pulse of the town in which we live which is home to Indiana University and a vibrant arts and international community. This year marked our 44th consecutive season as one of the region’s premiere choral ensembles, as we continued to provide opportunities for excellence in performance to volunteer singers, and innovative and stimulating concerts to our continually-expanding audience. BCS is a member-owned and operated corporation, guided by a skilled Board of Directors elected from the membership. Gerald Sousa has been the Artistic Director of the ensemble for twenty-five years and is assisted by Assistant Conductor and Accompanist Greg Geehern. At a time when many arts organizations throughout the country are struggling to maintain their foothold, BCS is consistently praised by grant reviewers for its sound fiscal management, artistic excellence, and positive community outreach. Organizational success comes from the commitment of its fifty-five members, all selected by competitive audition, who share a common value: art is essential to a high quality of life for individuals, family and friends, and the world community.
That belief was strikingly evident in the group’s final concert of this year’s season, the regional premiere of British composer James Whitbourn’s work, Annelies, presented on April 12 and 13 in Bloomington, and on April 27th in Terra Haute. The 65-minute piece is the first adaptation of the Anne Frank’s diary into a major choral work. Annelies is structured as a sequence of fourteen chronological vignettes, beginning with the Franks’ plan to go into hiding, and ultimately ending with their capture and final transfer to the concentration camp. The diary itself, and Whitbourn’s intensely expressive musical vocabulary, inspire profound reflections on issues that are universal and relevant in our time. BCS presented Annelies as a dramatic, multimedia work, with hundreds of images projected during the course of the work, compiled and sequenced by BCS Artistic Director Sousa. The concert was presented in a huge warehouse in Bloomington that is currently in the process of being converted into a youth center. The open expanse and stark atmosphere of the vast space was chosen specifically to provide an immersive environment for Whitbourn’s music. The experience for the chorus and the audience was profound. Elizabeth Toy sang the role of Anne Frank, and brought a remarkable depth and verisimilitude to the performance.
Peter Jacobi, Arts Reviewer for the Bloomington Herald-Times, wrote the following (April 15, 2014):
For 24 years, Gerald Sousa has challenged the Bloomington Chamber Singers with musical assignments that should have been beyond their abilities. After all, the choir consists of amateurs who give of their time and energy after hours in an endeavor set apart from their professional pursuits and qualifications….
At the center of the performance was Elizabeth Toy, a soprano from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, whom many of us have seen in IU Opera Theater productions. She was this production’s Annelies, and she was remarkable in projecting, through music and manner, the unquenchable faith that this young girl exhibited throughout the years of hiding, the innate goodness she sustained right to the end, when the world around her turned into horror and hell. Toy’s voice embraced the role, both Anne’s engaging youth and the beyond-her-years maturity that circumstances forced upon her.
Sousa’s devoted choristers sang with tremendous fervor and cast a spell unbroken until, after the final notes and a long silence, the applause rang out.
The instrumentalists — violinist Muriel Mikelsons, cellist Adriana Contino, clarinetist Iura de Rezende and pianist Alice Baldwin — were marvelous, adding to the sought-for moods demanded by story and music.
A remarkable occasion!
Looking ahead to 2014-2015…
Our plans for next season will be announced here as soon as they are finalized. We thank all of our friends, donors, sponsors, and singers past and present for making BCS the organization it is. If you have suggestions for us, we would enjoy hearing from you. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a singer, please consider auditioning in the fall. Audition notices will be posted here in early August, or you can contact our conductor, Gerry Sousa, at email@example.com. And everyone else, we hope to see you at our concerts next year! Have a good summer.