The Wolf Trap Chamber Singers gave their debut concert at the Barns last night under the direction of conductor Paul Traver and showed promise of becoming a fine addition to the musical life of the area. The eight singers are of soloist caliber. In the intimate surroundings of the Barns, their sound was vibrant and their ensemble well-balanced.
The best singing of the evening came in the very difficult "Five Songs on Old Texts" by Hindemith, where there was a sense of the shaping of phrases, a considerable range of dynamics and effective communication of the texts. In these pieces, Traver's beat found a variety of modes of expression, which were reflected in the performance. The singing by the four men of the chant propers of the "Missa Secunda" by Hassler was the other highlight of this concert, beautifully in unison and projected with a marvelously relaxed sense of shape and line.
The Chamber Singers do not, as yet, seem to listen very carefully to each other. In music by Billings, Gibbons, Purcell, Schuman and Dello Joio, and in the Elizabethan group, they appeared to sing simultaneously, rather than together--each singer with his own musical ideas but with very little in common. Pitch and entrances were, at times, problematic. Styles were not established, the pacing between pieces was off, and, in a program that touched on many musical styles, there was an unusual amount of sameness.
Traver is an experienced director, however, and he has assembled a talented collection of singers. It will be interesting to follow their progress.