One of my bosses sent me a link to a choir concert that she thought I might be interested in. mollyT joined me to see the West Village Chorale joining up with the rock band Sky-Pony for the Chorale’s 2019 Winter Concert, Crossing Over. The show was a mix of original songs and popular songs ordered in a way to tell a story.
When I went downstairs to use the bathroom before the show, I saw some of the Sky-Pony singers getting ready. They would not have looked out of place at a The Secret City performance. They blend indie rock with theater (it is fronted by Tony nominees) and their songs can be dark or funny or both. “Everyone Will Die” is about feeling better because she knows everyone will die. mollyT noticed a little old lady at the end of our row clapping and singing along to the song – it’s bouncy despite the theme. And “Beautiful Monster” starts with loving another person so much that she will cut their face if they leave.
I was surprised to see the non-gendered bathroom signs in Judson Memorial Church had been covered over with signs reading “Ladies” and “Men.” This seemed to me to be a group (audience and performers) that would celebrate diversity.
I have performed in this church with The Secret City, so it was fun to be in the audience watching a performance. The show was the vision of the Chorale’s artistic director/conductor Colin Britt. There were what seemed to me to be strange choices in lighting (the first song the Chorale was totally in the dark and another song used a rainbow of lights that seemed to hit us over the head when combined with the lyrics) but all of it was what Britt had envisioned.
The West Village Chorale was founded in 1971 and now has an audition process. I wish I had known about it when I lived in Greenwich Village in the 1970s. It is a big chorus and the members sat on the stage and on the floor on both sides of the church. They were dressed in rainbow colors with groups of people in the same color shirts. In-between was their pianist, Elena Belli (assistant conductor), and Sky-Pony’s band, Kyle Jarrow (keyboards), Kevin Wunderlich (guitar), Jamie Mohamdein (bass), David Blasher (cello), and Jeremy Yaddaw (drums). Singers Lauren Worsham (lead), Katie Lee Hill (backup), and Jessi Suzuki (backup) sat down when the Chorale was singing and then stood in front of the band when performing.
The songs were performed in sets and we were asked not to applaud until each set was over, which the audience did for the first couple of sets but then we were so overcome with enthusiasm that we were applauding after every song.
The Chorale’s voices are beautiful when blended together and several people took solos. I was disappointed to see that the Chorale is overwhelmingly white – there were a few Asians, one black woman, and I saw one Hispanic last name in the program. I am sure that speaks a lot to the current make-up of the neighborhood.
It was a wonderful way to spend a wintery March Sunday afternoon.
By Carene Lydia Lopez