Arts & Events

Music Review: BCCO Maintains A High Standard

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday December 07, 2010 - 04:26:00 PM

Dedicated music lovers are clearly not deterred from attending concerts despite heavy winds and torrential rain. This accounts for the several hundred people who braved the elements last Sunday afternoon to fill the beautiful St. Joseph the Worker Church for a program of magnificent music presented by the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra.  

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra was founded by Eugene Jones in l966 under the auspices of the Berkeley Adult Program. After Jones' death, Arlene Sagan took over as Music Director; she retains that title but is less active now due to delicate health. Joseph Liebling is currently the very capable guest conductor.  

The goal of BCCO remains steadfast: to offer everyone in the community the opportunity to hear and sing great choral music. Such was the case Sunday afternoon, when the orchestra and chorus took their places on the altar and gave a concert that was absolutely inspired, starting with two J.S. Bach numbers, "Fantasia & Fugue in C Minor," transcribed by David P. Cheng, and the first movement of the "Christmas Oratorio."
Next came George Frideric Handel's "Zadok the Priest", from the Coronation Anthems, composed for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1717, and still continuing to be popular. After intermission, affording the chorus a well-deserved rest, Franz Joseph Haydn's Mass No. 14 in B-flat minor, the "Harmoniemesse" with soloists Rita Lilly, Lauren Carley, J. Raymond Myers and Gregory Stapp, was the concluding number of this exceptional program. Well, not quite.  

Members of the audience were then invited to join their voices in a rousing rendition of the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's "Messiah," and that they did -- literally singing their hearts out!  

It should be noted here that that Arlene Sagan will be honored at a Musical Tribute and Reception on May 22, 2011 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, an honor richly deserved. 

There will be one more performance of this program, on Sunday, December 19th at 4:30PM, at Saint Joseph The Worker Church, 1640 Addison Street between Sacramento and Martin Luther King Way in Berkeley. 

While admission is free, donations are appreciated.