The fifth-anniversary concert of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington Saturday at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall was a rich celebration of diversity, with finely blended voices paralleling a gracefully balanced program that included music from Mozart's "Little Masonic" Cantata, K. 623, to spirituals and Broadway tunes.
Contralto Maureen Forrester's voice may have lost some of its power over the decades, but she gave a fine interpretation of Brahms' poignant Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53, and her playful approach to Schubert's lighter Serenade, Op. 135, was equally convincing. Later in the program Forrester displayed a hilarious, broad-brushed comedic style in Cole Porter's "I Like Pretty Things."
The chorus, conducted by Bruce Trinkley, included two world premieres, Trinkley's "Five Cavafy Settings," a well-balanced musical realization of works by the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, and Richard Faith's choral arrangements of three of his songs, including his haunting depiction of a shipwreck, "On the Isle of Skye."
Robert Hahn's dazzling sign-language artistry gave the program a mesmerizing display of choreography for two hands.
As an encore, Forrester, the chorus and the orchestra joined in the pop anthem "That's What Friends Are For." The concert ended, as it began, with a thunderous standing ovation.