THE CHILDREN'S Chorus of Maryland, singing in charming tone and harmony in its annual Twelfth Night concert Sunday, followed director Andrea Nutter Macon's cues as carefully as if she were picking replacements for New Kids on The Block.
In doing so, the chorus showed that it can provide solid entertainment for non-relatives as well as family and a good training ground in musicianship for more than 100 children between 6 and 16. If you throw in a little P.D.Q. Bach craziness and 39 older kids playing kazoos, it's downright fun.
The Second Presbyterian Church was packed tight with 700 parents, relatives and fans who heard a delightful hour-long program by the chorus' three choirs: forty 6- and 7-year-olds in the Beginning Choir; 38 kids between 8 and 11 in the Training Choir and 39 children 11 to 16 in the Concert Choir -- 117 in all from about 50 different schools.
So popular has the chorus become that a year from now it switches to the larger 995-seat Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, producing 300 more seats, better acoustics, an easier system of reserved seating and more light to see the children's TC faces. Its last big concert of this season is Sunday, May 19, at 4 p.m. at LeClerc Hall, College of Notre Dame, 4701 North Charles St.
Music director Macon, an advocate of the music training methods of Hungarian composer and music educator Zoltan Kodaly (pronounced Kodayee), led the three choirs together and as separate units. Though serious young musicians, the children seemed to have an hour of fun. The Kodaly method uses children's songs, musical games, folk songs and great classical music to increase "sensitivity to the art in music" and have fun doing it.
The children, chosen after auditions, practice and study music up to 4 1/2 hours a week at Towson State University. Their major annual concert is The Twelfth Night, marking the Feast of Epiphany when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. The occasion traditionally notes the end of the Christmas celebration.
The children opened the concert Sunday by proceeding up the side aisles singing "Christmas Song" from a "Piae Cantiones" arrangement by Gustav Holst.
The versatility of the older group was shown in a second set of five carols and songs beginning with the Michael Praetorius arrangement of "Lo, How a Rose e're Blooming." Then they sang P.D.Q. Bach's "Good King Kong Looked Out" in usual pacing, a few changed to ragged tempos and all played their kazoos as slide trombones. A special moment followed when they sang "Silent Night" in careful harmony, the second verse in German. Michael Allman accompanied simply and effectively on guitar.
The Training Choir's set began with pianist Kathryn Baldwin Locke, the group's accompanist, playing a lovely solo before the singers entered the Polish carol, "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly." For "The Bells of Paradise," the choir was backed by Bruce Bryant and Allman, teachers in the chorus classes, playing recorders, and Chris Knudsen, Marios Monopolis and Sarah Nelson playing bells. For the Hanukkah song, "Hanerot Halalu," the children ended clapping hands and reaching their arms to the sky.
The Beginning Choir sang a traditional Alsatian melody, "Sleep, Little Dove" and "Deck the Hall" in harmony. Singing short solos were Ashley Ford in Michael McCabe's "The Carol of the Little Brown Bird" and Carla Greene, in Ralph Vaughn Williams' "Lullaby" from the cantata "This Day."
The children thanked Donna Reid, executive director, for "getting a whole lot of people to help us," for "your hard work" and "your enthusiasm." Macon and Reid, who received bouquets of flowers, are both in their third year directing the chorus. Their Twelfth Night concerts have grown from 400 to 700 fans and this year was sold out for three days. It was time to move to a larger hall.