BWW Reviews: Bayou City Performing Arts' TINSEL! SPAKLE! SHINE! A HOLIDAY GIFT is Equal Parts Exciting and Beautiful
Bayou City Performing Arts (BCPA) is widely recognized in Houston for its inclusivity and diversity. The organization began in 1979 as the Montrose Singers, Inc. and has since expanded to include the Gay Men's Chorus of Houston (GMCH) , the Bayou City Women's Chorus (BCWC), and the Bayou City Chorale (BCC). Kicking off their milestone 35th season, last weekend BCPA performed a heartwarming holiday concert, TINSEL! SPARKLE! SHINE! A HOLIDAY GIFT.
In addition to being the first performance of their 35th season, the concert ushered in other firsts for BCPA as well. It was their inaugural concert at the lovely Heinen Theatre and a way for Houston to meet their new Artistic Director, Kenneth Clayborne. These firsts are continued proof that BCPA is enjoying evolution and growth while still presenting audiences with quality performances.
Under the direction of Kenneth Clayborne, GMCH, BCWC, and BCC all delivered rousing performances of traditional holiday favorites and some songs that were new to the ears of the gathered audiences. As a director, he flooded both acts with powerful musical choices and programmed a show that was as exciting as it was beautiful. Whether tackling tough music like Morten Lauridsen and James Agee's "Sure on This Shining Night" or surprising audiences with a delightfully lesbian twist on "Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" with Laura Love's "Jeanette Isabella," each of the three choruses easily entertained the audience and filled us with bountiful holiday cheer.
This was my first time to attend a BCPA concert, and the artistry and talent in the group instantly blew me away. For the opening, they surrounded the audience with an enchanting performance of Greg Gilpin's "With Gladness, Cheer and Song! (A Festive Madrigal)." Moving though the aisles, we got to hear each vocal part up close as the singers walked around the audience. This unique staging and presentation made the performance distinctly memorable and wholly engaging. From this performance alone, I knew I was in for a shimmering holiday treat. As the concert progressed, the talented groups at BCPA did not disappoint.
Other standout performances from the concert include BCC singing a stirring rendition of "Ose Shalom (The One Who Makes Peace)," BCC's hysterical performance of Frederick Silver's witty "The Twelve Days After Christmas," GMCH's tropical and energetic "Island Santa," BCWC's lovely "Christmas on Broadway," and Marlene Stubler's mesmerizing gospel inspired "Do You Hear What I Hear?" solo.
If this holiday concert is any indication of what audiences can expect for the rest of their landmark 35th season, the upcoming concerts are definitely ones not to be missed. With the overall theme of "One World: Our Voices - Our Songs," BCPA will be presenting DIVAS on April 5 & 6, 2014. For DIVAS, BCWC will be signing thrilling songs, solos, and duets from the Silver Screen to Broadway, Radio to Television. Then On June 7 & 8, 2014 GMCH will sing songs of pride, gratefulness, strength, and solidarity with their concert SOMETHING INSIDE SO STRONG. Both concerts will be housed at the Heinen Theater, 3517 Austin Street, Houston, 77004. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.bayoucityperformingarts.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.