There are many ways to usher in the holidays, but for many Lassen County residents only one event properly heralds the Christmas season: The Susanville Choral Society concert. In its seventh year, the event filled the Methodist church with a packed crowd. There were even a dozen latecomers lined up against walls and in the entrance to the foyer.
This year’s event aptly named “Changing Seasons.” included works from Mozart and a Traditional Welch Folk song, “All Through the Night.”
An original piece by Matt Mullin: “Our Christmas Tree,” from “The Married Life” Song Cycle, featured soloists Maryel Roberts and Madison Cole.
In keeping with their trend of including surprises in their repertoire, there was the “Cold Song,” from the opera “King Authur” composed by Henry Purcell (1659-1695).
“Laudate Dominum,” from “Vesperae Solennes de Confessore” was never more moving than the performance mezzo-soprano Liudmila Mullin delivered with conductor Cary Ehrlich.
A crowd favorite was certainly “Arrividerci, Roma,” composed by Renato Rascel with lyrics by Pietro Garinei.
The end came all to soon as the audience was treated to a finale by soloist, Julianne Pepetone, titled “Merry Christmas, Darling.”
This stunning concert was the result of hundreds of hours of preparation on behalf of this commited choir. The choir met from August to late November. Each member devoted about 30 hours of rehearsal time to perfecting the concert, in addition to practicing at home and attending sectional rehearsals with leaders Cary Ehrlich, Lisa Bernard and Deborah Abott.
Before the music selection is even announced, Matt and Liudmilla spend months choosing the program, listening to music and working on the scores to accommodate the needs of certain voices.
Plus, Matt put days, weeks and months into arranging, adjusting and reorganizing. All music to be performed was adjusted or orchestrated or arranged by Matt to fit the needs of the choir. He also composed original works, often with lyrics for every concert.
Liudmila practiced with the score during the summer months before rehearsals commenced in August. This helps with parts, lyrics and technique. She explained, “I need to know the music before I work with singers in order to recognize mistakes and achieve the level the music demands.”
There is also preparation and coordination of locations for rehearsals and fund raising events to help offset costs.
One expense paid for the inclusion of musicians who faithfully travel from Lake Tahoe and Reno often during inclement weather. The concert included musicians such as Josh Warren with his viola and a music degree from Royal Academy of Music in London; professional cellist from Bulgaria, Milena Albrecht; plus, Brian Fox on the violin; John Cardoza (string bass); and Andrea Lenz on the organ and piano.
Lake Tahoe Symphony and Chorus members contributed to the concert’s success with the voices of Becky Earl, Leslie Fudge, and Chris Nelson. These singers also perform with the Reno Philharmonic.
All of these efforts and elements combined to bring an experience that Susanville residents were able to enjoy in the historical Methodist church sanctuary that provided tremendous acoustics. This concert was free although donations helped to ensure future concerts.
Liudmila added, “All of those efforts are worth it: When we step in front of the audience and see people enjoying our singing and experiencing the joy of music with us, all of the hard work is paid back.”