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Music: Pure Schmaltz

Tue 1 Jun 2004 In: Music View at Wayback View at NDHA

Pure Schmaltz Performed by GALS Musical Director, Stephen Bowness. Musical Director Emeritus, Margaret Robertson. Accompanist, Craig Blockley Did you know that “schmaltz” was cooking fat? - just one of the many things you might have learned from David Steemson, the highly entertaining anchor-man of this GALS concert. A seasoned performer in his own right, he used his wit, gesture and unmistakable connection to the audience to give added cohesion to the most important element of the evening – singing! Through it we were all taken on a thoroughly enjoyable musical journey. And what a journey! - starting from behind the audience with a solo voice intoning Hine e Hine, and blooming into full choral harmony which moved the sound magically onto the stage. Next, the journey transported us to Liverpool, and the Beatles' Classic “If I Fell in Love”, with its colourful harmonies, performed unaccompanied with great impact. Then, from Seattle, David Maddux's totally up-to-the-minute ”Email Me Your Queer Love, Baby” had us all chuckling and identifying totally with the GALS interpretation. Full circle back to New Zealand, to David Hamilton's premiere of “On his Queerness”, a challenging work elegantly set for six male voices, who faithfully responded to the composer's humorous intentions. (Unfortunately the second section was spoilt by some inconsiderate late-comers clumsily crashing their way to their seats in the dark.) ”Love Changes Everything” from “Aspects of Love” was given a most convincing performance from memory by the choir, performed with exactly the right tempo and flow. Even more entertaining was the women's “Stop in the Name of Love” and the men's “Love Potion 69”. Soloists too, added an extra dimension to the evening's charm with Margaret Robertson's subtly ornamented solo in the Traditional Irish “She Moved Through the Fair”, and Gordon Palmer's velvet tones on soprano saxophone in “You Made me Love You” each enhancing the colour and range of the whole musical event. In a few of the earlier numbers in the programme, a slowish tempo and rather syllabic/metrical sound tended to inhibit the musical stream. But for the ultimate in “pure schmaltz” you simply couldn't go past the GALS account of the Gershwin all-time favourite, ”Embraceable You”. From the conductor's gestures, which seemed so much more fluid, to the performance of the singers, so relaxed and compelling, the beautiful close jazz harmonies were merged with the vocal splendour of the performers. Jack East - 1st June 2004    

Credit: Jack East

First published: Tuesday, 1st June 2004 - 12:00pm

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