Soharmoniums Women’s Choir
Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
December 18, 2018
Wings and Voices to Match
If angels wore dark blue and carried music scores they could be the Soharmoniums. This all women’s chorus brightened the stage fifty-strong and filled the ears of the audience. A beautifully blended vocal group, it added to the pleasure to see them in uniform dress so that the eye was not distracted and all attention could be focused on their entirely delightful offerings.
The ensemble, conducted by Elizabeth Núňez, presented a wide range of seasonal pieces under the title She Hath Wings. Some works, like Gdye Ti, zvyozdochka? (Where Are You Little Star?) by Mussorgsky and Abbie Betinis’ Cedit Hyems, were unfamiliar, lending an air of mystery to the groups’ rich voices. The Soharmoniums were joined by guest artist, Andrea Dismukes, a mezzo-soprano whose velvety tones enriched several solos including the traditional Christmas Song and the well-known carol, Oh Holy Night.
The chorus demonstrated their crisp diction and unclouded sound with Jeff Funk’s arrangement of The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy which seemed almost new as the women’s voices evoked the bell-like sounds of the celesta, a keyboard instrument of the late 19th century for which the piece was first composed. They also gave a fresh twist to the final piece, the famous Twelve Days of Christmas arranged by Ruth Watson Henderson, complete with “moo moos” for the cows tended by the five maids a milking and “coo-coos” for the two turtle doves. It was a wonderful arrangement sung with great charm and spirit.
Balancing the more serious numbers, the group sang the Millennial Holiday Song, I Want to Stare at My Phone with You. It’s clever, very of the moment, reminiscent of classics like Winter Wonderland and may last more than its allotted fifteen minutes of fame. At the end Ms. Núňez raised the humor level by whipping out her phone and snapping a selfie of herself and the chorus.
Taisiya Pushkar is the group’s able pianist. Dr. Pushkar serves on the faculties of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Horace Mann School and the Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Music Center of which she is an alumna. Colleen Clark played percussion; the flute was played by Xue Su.
Andrea Dismukes is Professor of Voice at Lee University and Director of Music at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland, TN. She has performed at Canterbury Cathedral, with the Bulgarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the National Cathedral and at other venues world-wide.
The Soharmoniums Women’s Choir is named for its rehearsal home in Soho. The ensemble, founded by Deborah McManus with six singers in 2006, is led by Elizabeth Nunez, Associate Artistic Director of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City whose personality lights up the stage. The chorus, a not-for profit group, is bound together by the rigor and enduring magic of group singing. By championing music of every form and tradition, they strive to enrich and inspire diverse communities. And so they do.