Sacramento Choral Society Featured on KVIE PBS
Then everybody watched a television show in appreciative silence.
The occasion for the unusual party was the premiere of the KVIE-produced documentary about the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra.
The Viewfinder series found a fitting subject for its documentary about the growing interest in choral music in the SCSO. Beginning in April 2009, production of this half-hour program became a labor of love for everyone on both sides of the camera.
It has been 15 years since Don Kendrick stepped into the director’s role, bringing his limitless energy and ambitious vision to a struggling Sacramento Symphony Chorus. In 1996, when the Sacramento Symphony went bankrupt, Kendrick created a new kind of musical alliance.
The Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra is unique among the 120,000 community choruses in the United States: It is the only large chorus to have a collective bargaining agreement with its own professional symphony orchestra.
Generally, a large chorus is hired by an orchestra to showcase the music it plays. But in Sacramento, the volunteer singers of the SCSO hire professional musicians to accompany them. In the past 15 years, the SCSO has paid more than $2 million dollars in wages, keeping hundreds of union musicians working.
Saturday’s premiere was an opportunity for the many singers, alumni and friends of the SCSO to view their organization in a new way. Footage of current and recent performances – including the elaborate Orff “Carmina Burana” – was interspersed with photos and film from former tours.
On a trip to China, the group sang Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia” atop the Great Wall; in the Czech Republic and Austria, the churches and cathedrals in every small village became an impromptu stage for a motet.
Throughout the documentary, Kendrick and SCSO President James McCormick are featured discussing their experience. Their unequivocal love of music and passion and loyalty for the chorus comes through loud and clear.
Other members of the SCSO are equally enthusiastic.
“This experience has changed my life,” said Patrick McGill, a tenor who joined the group about 18 months ago. He coordinated the details of the premiere party, which underwent a surprise change of venue at the last minute. “The power of volunteers is unbelievable,” he said. McGill also sings in Vox Nova, the men’s choir at Sacred Heart Church, where Kendrick is the director of that choir and of the mixed-voice Scola Cantorum. “There are so many talents represented in this room” McGill said, citing the diversity of professions, ages and backgrounds among the 190 volunteer singers. “It is truly a labor of love.” The documentary will air on the Viewfinder series on KVIE Channel 6 on Wednesday, January 26 at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday, January 30 at 6 p.m. SCSO will present a their annual fund raising Singathon at Sunrise Mall on Thursday, February 10.
The SCSO season continues with The Verdi Requiem, featuring 193 singers, four world-class soloists, and a full orchestra. Saturday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. at the Mondavi Center in Davis. The season concludes with "Easy to Love", a concert of the best of classic Broadway music. Saturday, April 30 at 8:00 p.m. at the Mondavi Center For more information, please visit the SCSO website at sacramentochoral.com
Article | Mary Nares
Photos | Kati Garner