For the past five decades, the U.S. Army Chorus has provided musical background to momentous state occasions, such as presidential inaugurations and foreign dignitary visits. On Wednesday evening at the Terrace Theater the ensemble celebrated its 50th anniversary with a pleasing concert that showed the all-male group could entertain as much as add atmosphere to a serious occasion. The chorus's warm, blended and sometimes passionate tone combined with some superb solos to create a fine evening of music.
One second you were immersed in the romantic sounds of Schubert; the next, in some snazzy Broadway tunes. Under the direction of conductor Lt. Col. John Clanton, the singers infused the Viennese master's lovely "Die Nacht" with a gentle glow, which contrasted with the rhythmic intensity of selections from "Les Miserables." Soloists, including retired Master Sgt. Tom McKenzie in the spiritual "Precious Lord" and Staff Sgt. Alvy Powell in "Old Man River" from "Show Boat," sang with great commitment and dexterity. Accompanying pianist Master Sgt. Joseph Holt dazzled the audience on his own with an energetic reading of Richard Addinsell's "Warsaw" Concerto.
Yet it was in such martially inspired works as Randall Thompson's "Testament of Freedom" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" where the chorus's singing took on a singular force that bespoke most deeply the ensemble's rich tradition.
-- Daniel Ginsberg