When I was a college student, I sung in a lot of college choirs, and it was a great experience. Some of the highlights include performances back in the 1980's with the Fresno Philharmonic: Beethoven's 9th, Mahler's 2nd, Verdi's Te Deum and a concert with Dave Brubeck. Good times.

I also remember more typical concerts in the old Wahlberg Recital Hall (now rarely used by groups on campus). Selections from 'The Rake's Progress', Stravinsky's only opera. Schoenberg's 'Friede Auf de Erde', Mozart's Vesperae Solemnes de Confessore, Faure's Requiem and....a piece by Leonard Bernstein.

Anyway, my son is in a pretty fine choral program at Fresno City College and on Sunday afternoon (after Mother's Day brunch) I attended a performance of Philharmonic in which singers from FCC and CSU Fresno performed Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. The picture in the post is from the Wikipedia article, which observes (correctly) the notorious challenges posed by the tenor part in the first movement. Good thing my son is a bass!

Anyway, it was a tremendous concert. It was a great thrill to hear the thing performed with an orchestra live, and it was especially meaningful knowing that my son and I have a connection that transcends our generations by both having sung it. The accompaniment, this time, was dynamic. When I was learning the thing many moons ago, I had listened to a reasonably good recording on an LP in the old CSU Fresno library (CD's hadn't been invented yet!), where all the turntables seemed to hum at 60 Hertz, but the brilliance of the orchestral effects (and the obvious debts to Mahler's symphonies) were much better appreciated in person.

The previous conductor, Raymond Harvey, did much to raise the technical competence of the orchestra and the present maestro, Theodore Kuchar, is a real gem. The Phil musicians of my acquaintance rave about his energy, attitude, ability to communicate and technique and the local patrons like the fact that he actively sells the Phil to the community in a variety of ways. I can say in all honesty that a production three years ago of Mahler's 2nd easily eclipsed the version I was a part of two decades ago in several facets, and the orchestra (while always in full-blown fundraising mode) seems in better shape than it has been in several years.

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