with Chor Leoni

When and Where December 17, 2021 at 8pm; December 18, 2021 at 2pm, 5pm & 8pm; December 20, 2021 at 4:30pm & 8pm | St. Andrew-Wesley’s United, 1022 Nelson St.

Artistic Director Erick Lichte Featured performers Cameron Wilson - violin, Keith Sinclair - guitar, Tina Chang and Karen Lee-Morlang - piano

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Chor Leoni, a proud Vancouver’s award-winning amateur male choir, has a tradition of delighting audiences with its rich and sophisticated performances. The choir has drawn international praise and awards for its artistic excellence and contributions to choral art from many quarters. With the travails of Covid, what a special treat for their home audience to have them celebrate Christmas in the beautiful setting of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church.

The program for their 75-minute performance included several well-known carols, and some less familiar songs. Lichte’s arrangement of O Come, O Come Emmanuel opened the concert with an ephemeral rendering in angelic tones, setting a tranquil peace upon the venue. Song after song, the gentlemen drew well-deserved applause for their versatility, harmony, and amazing ability to set a tone, be it playful, gentle, loving, or worshipful. From round-like arrangements to bold and bright ones, from soft and loving ones to others energetic and playful, Chor Leoni carried the audience on an adventure in voice, breath, harmony and mood. Tina Chang and Karen Lee-Morlang provided a wonderfully skillful piano backdrop to virtually all the pieces.

Every number was spectacularly performed. A few of the many highlights for this reviewer included Brightest and Best, arranged by Shawn Kirchner, which included the beautiful violin playing of Cameron Wilson. Not long after, came a wistful performance of Wilcox’s It’s Almost Time, arranged by Keith Sinclair, in which he complemented the choir with his fine guitar accompaniment. Naomi Laviolette’s arrangement of Noel (The First Noel) evoking a haunting Celtic sensibility, and featuring tenor Stephen Baker, was breathtakingly beautiful. Another highlight was Eric Whitacre’s arrangement of Lux Aurumque, which wrapped the audience in a warm light of sublime wonder. Finally, in a show replete with highlights, we were delighted by a Bing Crosby/Andrew Sisters song, Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter, arranged by Ken Cormier for Chor Leoni. Four of the tenors delighted those of the audience who remember the Andrew Sisters by sounding remarkably like them. It was a fun way to close the show with the colours and sparkle of Christmas.

Chor Leoni is a Vancouver jewel. It is to be treasured, appreciated, and held dear. The rich, clear voices of its members, their innovative and adventurous blending of harmonies, and their ability to carry listeners from down-to-earth fun to places of transcendence, renders them priceless.

© 2021 Christian Steckler