Newburyport Choral Society Returns to Live Performance

NEWBURYPORT – After a two-year hiatus since their last concert in December 2019, the Newburyport Choral Society (NCS) made a triumphant return to live performance this past Saturday and Sunday at Belleville Congregational Church.  NCS President John Moreland welcomed the audience, noting the significance of again being able to perform for the community.

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In its first concert under the baton of “new” Music Director Ryan Turner, the chorus performed two connected, yet distinctly different works that focused on the Nativity: Selections from “Messiah” by George Frideric Handel, and “The Ballad of the Brown King” by renowned African-American composer Margaret Bonds. 

“A year and a half ago, I was introduced to this loving musical community via tiny squares on my laptop,” said Turner, referencing the gradual transition from rehearsals conducted solely via Zoom, to a hybrid of Zoom/in person rehearsing this past semester. 

“As we returned to making music together, and preparing for a live audience, I knew we all needed something old and something new,” said Turner. “It was thrilling for me as a conductor to see how the chorus grew musically throughout the semester and certainly during the concerts as they embraced these two works,” added Turner.

Accomplished vocalists Susan Consoli (soprano), Isabel Randall (mezzo-soprano), Omar Najmi (tenor), and Gift Anyagwochu (baritone) impressed the audience with their solos throughout both works. The performers also included the 12-piece NCS Orchestra, provided by Presto! Music, and keyboard accompaniment by Kirsten Helgeland.

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And the audience loved it.

“Ryan Turner’s conducting style was expressive and agile, and even reminded me of Leonard Bernstein,” said audience member Josh Faigen. Another NCS audience regular, Terri Talas said, “Even though singers were masked, there was such a joyful energy that came through and spread throughout the audience—and everyone was especially moved as the audience stood for Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”. 

NCS followed stringent safety guidelines to safeguard both singers and audience, requiring proof of vaccination and masks for all NCS singers and audience members. The capacity at Belleville, normally about 500 in the audience, was reduced to approximately 100 for each of the two performances. 

The Newburyport Choral Society’s Spring 2022 semester begins on January 25th, working towards a May 2022 performance featuring Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem”. New singers of all musical ability levels are always welcome.  If you are interested in joining the chorus, please contact Penny Lazarus at members@newburyportchoralsociety.org

Author: ncsadmin

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