BWW Review: TOO HOT TO HANDEL at Choral Artists Of Sarasota
Under the direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, The Choral Artists of Sarasota, previously known as Gloria Musicae, an ensemble of 40 singers, presented Too Hot to Handel, their gospel version of Handle's Messiah last year to a crowd that wanted more. This year they moved the performance that packed the Opera House last year to the Van Wezel Hall and added the State College of Florida Concert Choir, the Festival Singers of Florida and the Manatee School for the Arts Chamber Choir.
This year's program boasted 100 voices, members of the orchestra, electric guitars, drummers and for that good ole churchy feel, a Hammond B3 organ. Can I get an Amen! Also back this year were soloists from the talented Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.
Too Hot to Handel pays homage to the organic version of Handle's Messiah and seamlessly evolves into more contemporary urban rhythms on each song presented. Brilliantly combining gospel, African and jazz movements, each soloist made it their own. Nate Jacobs, founder of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe opened the show with "Comfort Ye" and the chorus joined him in "Every Valley". The featured soloists included Nate Jacobs, Syreeta Banks, Amy Jo Connours, Leon S. Pitts, Sherwood Davis, and Samone Hicks.
The combined choruses were magnificent together and filled the big hall to its brim. "For Unto Us" was especially delightful. The jazzy version of "Rejoice Greatly" featuring Samone Hicks was a favorite. There was an opportunity to hear several musician's solos that showed off just how much talent each member has.
Dr Holt added his sense of humor to the second half of the show coming back as Handel and wearing a peruke, (long white wig), and choir robe.
This program was fun and exciting to watch. The talent on the stage was something Sarasota has to be proud of. Everyone stood as most do for the Hallellujah Chorus and this version was glorious.
Watch for more inventive upcoming shows from The Choral Artists of Sarasota. You won't want to miss their presentation in February of "Carmina Burana" one of the most challenging pieces to sing and most dramatic you will hear. Their Showtime! Music from the Movies coming in May should be a real crowd pleaser as a tribute to favorite musical hits from the big screen.
For more information visit www.choralartistssarasota.org