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ISSUE 119 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/24/2006

Army Chorus delights crowd

By Clare Kennedy
Arts Editor

Friday, March 24, 2006

On Sunday evening, the United States Army Chorus, self-proclaimed as “America's vocal ambassador to the world,” gave a flawless performance in Boe Memorial Chapel.

The first portion of the program consisted of sober works, mixed with American standards. The group began with “Soldier's Chorus” from “Faust” by Charles Gounod.

The emotional high point of the first half was a traditional Russian number called “Kalinka.” The insistent chanting was held down by two solos, first the beefy bass of Master Sgt. Jonathan Deutsch and then tenor Sgt. 1st class Michael Bicoy. Their voices created a tense atmosphere, culminating in violent, dissonant ending.

Another notable number was an exceedingly proper rendition of “Camptown Races,” executed by the chorus without a trace of silliness.

The second portion of the show was more engaging. The chorus warmed the crowd with lighter, more jazz-inflected fare and gently humorous songs.

The men began with a jumping a capella rendition of “Jacob's Ladder,” with rhythmic basses and trilling tenors.

The showstopper of the evening was “Bring Him Home” from the musical “Les Miserables.” The chorus provided a perfect frame for the soaring tenor of soloist Staff Sgt. Steve Cramer, who has toured with a Broadway company as the principal character Jean Valjean.

The chorus received a standing ovation after an encore of “Dog Face Soldier,” and Simon and Garfunkel's “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which Conductor Lt. Colonel John Clanton called the “prettiest two minutes you will ever hear.”

The chorus' performance here was one stop on a tour commemorating the group's 50th anniversary. Founded in 1956, the 28 man chorus has performed for every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“Our normal job is to stay in Washington, D.C., and be the court musician. We can knock out 15 to 20 minutes in any language,” Clanton said. “We usually do a selection in the guest's native language and it's amazing what music can do. It's taken a tense situation and completely turned it around.”

All in all, the audience came away from the concert satisfied.

“Their performance was very crisp,” Daniel Roberts '06 said. “It was synchronized as only a military group could hope to be.”

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