The Saddleback choir delivered a beautiful performance over the weekend at Presbyterian Church of the Master in Mission Viejo. Beyond the spectacular voices and skills of everyone involved, the performance was also quite informative talking about philosophy and music theory.
The show, was titled after the four original Greek elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air. The Conductor: Mr. Scott Farthing explained why he chose the “really out there” material for the audience. Apparently it was not his love for the band Earth Wind and Fire.
Farthing happened to be browsing a website called Etsy.com, an arts and crafts domain where people come together to buy and sell art. He came upon an artist who made masks of the four Greek elements.
The representation of something physical and making it musical inspired Farthing to develop this extraordinary work of art.
The performance was broken down into four segments. The first of which was based on air meaning breath or the vibration of sound. The second element, water, represented texture and depth. The third element of fire represented rythym. The last segment and the last of the four elements, Earth, was based on the physicality of foundation.
Each of the four elements were portrayed individually throughout the performance.
The set began with “Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind” from the play “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare. To add the extra flavor, the choir members whistled lightly, sounding like cold wind across the landscape.
During the second song, “Cloudburst”, Farthing asked the audience to read the text, then close their eyes and listen. Somebody who followed these instructions might have said the performance was hypnotic. The song was written in Spanish and was a very difficult piece to master. To add depth to the piece Farthing enlisted the use of rain sticks and handbells.
The third quarter of the show represented Earth. Being the biggest part of Music Theory, Mr. Farthing chose a very difficult set of songs titled “Mass for the Earth.” The mass consisted of six intertwined songs. Each with there own subflavors.
Next the audience was given the chance to participate during the fourth quarter of the show by clapping to the lively song, based on the element of fire, “Turn the World Around” by Harry Belafonte and Robert Freedman.
The choir is truly remarkable as they meet only on tuesday nights. The rehearsals begin at 8:00 and run to 10:00. They have been practicing since the begining of the semester and have had only seven whole rehearsals!
The chorale is only one division of the Saddleback College department of music. The music program offers a variety of musical talent such as jazz lab ensemble, wind ensemble and big band.
The next major performance by the choir will be in December in time for the holidays.
To conclude the show, Mr. Farthing surprised the audience by revealing that in May 2011, Saddleback college will be the first college to perform Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece “The Phantom of The Opera.”