Save the Children, an organization founded long before hunger benefits became chic, was the fortunate recipient of a special concert given Sunday evening at the Oaklands Presbyterian Church in Laurel. An impressive roster of Washington musicians joined forces in support of the cause, providing a program suitably diverse and generous.
Sixteen pieces with almost as many performers made for a classical revue in which not a second was wasted. Pianist Ana-Maria Vera opened with Debussy's "L'Isle joyeuse," forcefully mining the instrument's sonorities. Similarly, Gary Louie on alto sax combined a rich tone with seamless legato phrasing in Paul Creston's Saxophone Sonata. Cellist Evelyn Elsing brought an energetic, acerbic edge to her reading of the first two movements from Shostakovich's Sonata in D Minor. The instrumental showstopper, however, belonged to violinist Jody Gatwood, who breezed through Ysay e's hair-raising Sonata No. 3 ("Ballade"), magically raising the room temperature about 20 degrees.
The featured vocalists, whose uniformly strong voices proved a bit overwhelming in this small hall, more than held up their end of the bill. Tenor Gene Tucker's, in two of the concert's shorter spots, perfectly melded music and text. Versatility was the rule for baritone James Stith, who moved persuasively from the aria "Nemico della Patria" (of "Andrea Chenier") to Frank Loesser's "Mamma, Mamma" (of "The Most Happy Fella"). Soprano Dorothy Kingston capped the evening with "Glitter and Be Gay" from Bernstein's "Candide." Wearing a dazzling sapphire dress with voice to match, she gave a new meaning to the idea "All that glitters is not gold."