You may want to arrive early for the Hilo Community Chorus’s May 12 Palace Theater concert, “The American Spirit.” Although the concert is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., at around 2:45 p.m., HCC accompanist Walter Greenwood will entertain the early audience on the mighty Palace organ, and his selections will include Charles Ives’ extraordinary “Variations on America.”
The chorus will begin its concert with “The Testament of Freedom,” words of Thomas Jefferson set to music by American composer Randall Thompson.
“In my opinion,” said HCC music director Tom McAlexander, “it is one of the most powerful pieces ever composed. It begins with a quote from a 1774 document: ‘The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them,’ then, four movements later, ends with the same words – captured brilliantly by the music. One cannot help being moved by this composition.”
To complete the first half of the program, the chorus will sing several of Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs,” including the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts,” the drinking song “The Boatmen’s Dance,” featuring soloist Barry Brandes, and the whimsical children’s song “I Bought Me a Cat.”
The second half of the program will consist of African-American spirituals and will feature chorus members as soloists. Included is an arrangement of “Wade in the Water” for soloist, chorus, piano and organ, arranged especially for HCC by its former accompanist, Zeke Israel. Israel will accompany the chorus on piano while Greenwood moves to the organ. Soloist for this number will be Roni Koscik.
Other spirituals include a Moses Hogan arrangement of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” which features flutist Cheryl Shine, and “Listen to the Lambs” featuring cellist Herb Mahelona. The program ends with another powerful piece, “Little Innocent Lamb,” arranged by Mark Hayes.
Admission is $10, and tickets can be purchased at Basically Books, The Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo, the Palace box office and from members of the chorus. For more information, please call McAlexander at 985-7192.