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-- Mark J. Estren
Washington Men's Camerata, Annandale High Men's Chorale
You couldn't ask for a more robust concert than the one given Saturday by the Washington Men's Camerata and the Annandale High School Men's Chorale. The audience, largely made up of the groups' families and friends, filled every corner of the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, cheering the singers on -- and for good reason.
Overflowing with a sense of collegiate fellowship, the appealing program covered mostly unaccompanied glee club fare impelled by a hale and hearty spirit -- sometimes tinged with the sentimental close harmonies of barbershop style. The singers responded with perfect diction and ensemble to Frank Albinder, director of the Camerata, and Carleen Dixon, conductor of the Annandale chorale.
After the combined groups opened with a stalwart version of Edvard Grieg's "Brothers, Sing On!" (also the program title), the Camerata moved on to the traditional "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes," delivered graciously with subtle inflections, followed by Steven Sametz's gentle paean "I Have Had Singing" and Lee Hoiby's poignant "Private First Class Jesse Givens," honoring a soldier killed in Iraq.
The Annandale singers performed several arrangements alone with unwavering intonation and sheer gusto, their fine soloists including bass Andrew Gisch. Both groups crowded onto the stage for stirring renditions of Sigmund Romberg's "Stouthearted Men" and William Steffe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Another plus: Albinder's pertinent but brief comments on the music.
-- Cecelia Porter