//Ad libs: Cooling off with lush choral music

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cooling off with lush choral music

After another sweltering day, what a relief last night to escape into the coolness of Stanford University's Memorial Church, listening to lush choral music.

The Peninsula Women's Chorus was holding a free "bon voyage" concert, gearing up for the singers' trip to Central Europe. Gigs in Prague and Budapest and at the Bela Bartok 22nd International Choir Competition in Debrecen, Hungary -- now that's a proper summer vacation.

Kudos to the singers for handling such difficult, intricate music, and to artistic director Martin Benvenuto for ensuring the sounds blended so purely, with such power and control.

My favorite part of the concert was the contrast between "Venite Exultemus Domino" by Magyar composer Levente Gyongyosi and the piece that followed, "Ave Maris Stella" by Chan Ka Nin.

First came the "Venite," sparkling and lively, ending on a high burst that made some in the large audience titter with pleasure. Then the Chan Ka Nin composition flowed in hauntingly, accompanied by a rippling piano. I thought of a river at midnight, perhaps dangerous, perhaps inviting a tempting, dark swim.