The Augusta Choral Society presented their fifty-sixth spring concert, a full Mozart program, March twenty-fourth, 2007, at the Sacred Heart Cultural Center in Augusta, GA. Offered were "Regina Coeli" (K.276), "Vesperae Solemnes de Confessore" (K.339), "Venite, populi" (K.260), "Missa in C — 'Krönungsmesse'" ("Coronation Mass") (K.317), and "Ave Verum Corpus" (K.618). The Mozart concert deviated in one major way from their past performances, however: rather than drawing on professional solo talent, Director J. Porter Stokes II contacted music departments at four area universities offering them the opportunity to send a student to sing with the Chorus.
Presbyterian College (Clinton, SC) selected a soprano, Augusta State University (Augusta, GA) an alto, Georgia Southern University (Statesboro, GA) a tenor, and the University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) a baritone. Ali Titus, the soprano, is in her junior year of a Psychology program, minoring in music and history. LoLita Pierre (alto), Jonathan Murphy (tenor), and Joseph Timms (baritone) are all majoring in vocal performance.
Miss Titus, rather slight of build, is possessed of a surprisingly powerful and enchatingly clear, expressive voice. Her long solo lines captivated the audience, and her melodies united beautifully with the other soloists. Mr. Timms is an impressive lyric baritone. The clarity of his tone and emotional quality easily convey both wonder and joy: Latin is anything but a dead tongue as he sings it. Mr. Murphy was easily the best tenor soloist hosted by the ACS in its past few seasons. As a group, these three melded so well that it was difficult to believe that not only was this their first joint performance, but that, attending different schools, they had never sung together before.
Miss Pierre was a contrast to the other three soloists. Her voice carried an aesthetic strikingly at odds with the stylistic nature of Mozart's ecclesiastic work. She seemed to lack the energy and joi de vivre that characterized their performances, and was unable to contribute effectively to the ensemble. Apparently as a result of being underprepared for the performance, she rarely connected with the audience and jarred with an orchestra underlining her part.
On the whole, the concert was well-recieved by the audience, and satisfied the musicians. It would certainly be enjoyable to hear such young talent again: concert after concert hosting professionals of one stripe or another has not provided so satisfying a group of performers. It is to be hoped that Miss Titus, Mr. Murphy, and Mr. Timms make further appearances in Augusta's rather thin Classical circuit: their performances tonight (and if I may be slightly biased, especially that of Miss Titus) were a welcome change from what so often ends up being a stilted and colourless recital of vaguely-Latinate syllabary.