Sunday, December 16, 2007

Singers perform charming hybrids

Tom Strini in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviews last night's performance by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble at the Chapel of St. Joseph's Center.
The seven San Antonians, building on the scholarship of Sheila Raney Baird and Robert Stevenson, sang and played a program of 16th and 17th century Spanish-Indian and Spanish-African crossover Christmas music.

Soprano Kathy Mayer, alto Tanya Moczygemba, baritone Christopher Moroney, alto Covita Moroney, tenor Jody Noblett, tenor Lee P'Pool and soprano Sonya Yamin brought a large battery of African and South American ocarinas, flutes, drums, shakers, pitched stones and scrapers to bear upon this music.

Among the other instruments were deer antlers, but it was the pitched stones that got people curious. Christopher Moroney told audience members at intermission that he found pitched stones in a dry stream bed near his home in San Antonio. He'd strike stones with another, some would ring out, and he'd select those that had a pitch he needed.

The pitched stones were each about the size of a man's shoe. To play them, he had them spread in a small semicircle on a small blanket on the floor, and knelt and struck them with smaller pitchless stones, one in each hand. We overestimated how much yesterday's snow storm would add to our travel time, and arrived so early we wound up in the front pew, so were among the few that could see him play during the concert.

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