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SMC a cappella and unplugged
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SMC a cappella and unplugged

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Seattle Men's Chorus with m-pact
June 21
Meany Hall


Seattle Men's Chorus had a raucous crowd on its hands during its latest choral performance, June 19-21, at Meany Hall. The audiences loved the challenge and the purity of the a cappella performances of both the Chorus and the special guests, m-pact, an internationally known beatbox a cappella group.

Dennis Coleman, artistic director, had promised something special, and boy, did they all deliver! The challenge was not only singing without any instrument accompaniment, but also the sheer magnitude of the cultures Coleman asked them to absorb. Indian, German, 2009 songs from Eric Lane Barnes, spirituals, special inclusions to GLBT sentiments from Fred Small and Billy Strauss, all brought different needs to their presentations.

Guest stars, m-pact, came on stage for two significant interludes, giving everyone a real sense of the breadth of their music. They performed songs such as "Come Together" by the Beatles, and "My Funny Valentine" by Rodgers and Hart, to a TV medley of old favorite tunes. It turns out that their soprano, Britt Quentin, is also a master arranger, and has been busy arranging many of their pieces so that they can sing in the m-pact style. They brought the house down at almost every song they did, and got several standing ovations at the end.

Jeff Smith held the beatbox rhythm in a beautifully understated way, and Trist Curless propelled the bass throughout every song, keeping the efforts of Fletcher Sheridan, Marco Cassone, Quentin and David Loucks on track. Their soundman should have come on stage for a well-deserved bow, as well. He's an integral part of their performance, mixing the six separate microphones together.

The Chorus performed some extremely challenging music with great skill. The Indian "raga" called for Tibetan oversinging. A unique, back-of-the-throat sound that lends an eerie, foreign flavor, and it didn't seem possible for this large chorus to accurately manage that sound. They did. Another difficult piece was a "competition level" arrangement for "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho." This called for quick part changes and close unison. Another challenge hurdled.

Assistant Artistic Director Eric Lane Barnes contributed new silly songs, "My Very Educated Mother" - about Pluto's dis-inclusion as a planet, and "O Mio Babbinoweh Avec Moi" - a combination opera solo and pop music interruption that had the audience continually laughing at the members of Captain Smartypants. He also offered two other sweet sounds, "Listen to the Silence" and "Come Dance with Me," as he continued to demonstrate his talent as a writer of smart, interesting music.

The concert ended with encores, one of which has m-pact and the Chorus sing together on "Change in My Life," and then the Chorus alone for "Moon River," ending with everyone on the same note. It was a very satisfying evening.

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