Yet Another Well-Kept Chattanooga State Secret

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - by Tom Hammett
It has been quite a while since I have worked directly with Maestro Darrin Hassevoort, but in every instance, his work has been solid and respectable. Tuesday night’s Masterworks concert was no exception.

The Concert Choir is an excellent ensemble of some 28 singers, accompanied on piano by Janelle McDonald. Following a golden rule of concert programming, Hassevoort held the performance to just under one hour. I was taught that if a concert goes over one hour, you should give away a car as a door prize.

The first portion of the concert presented three choral selections from standard literature including Barber, Brahms and Gawthrop. The choir produces a remarkable balance with a rich choral tone. Their diction is unusually clean, and Hassevoort’s conducting is quite masterful. Their excellent choral techniques help to create lovely and effective interpretation.

An extra treat on the program was the professional piano quintet. Familiar musicians including Concert Master: Mark Reneau, Violin: Sheri Peck, Viola: Laurie Redmer Minner, Cello: Eric Reed, and Piano: Alan Nichols made up an exquisite instrumental ensemble. The viola was particularly expressive and musical during the Elgar number.

Hassevoort programmed a new composer to my ear this evening. Two works by Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978) highlighted the best of the choir’s abilities. The choir was infused with resilient energy within the context of a warm and charming ambiance. The piano quintet served not only as a handsomely balanced accompaniment, but as an integral part of the music.

I observed two additional qualities during the evening. First, the Chattanooga State Choral Department is in excellent hands under the direction of Darrin Hassevoort. With the passing and retirement of many of the giants of the last generation of conductors, one might wonder about the future of quality music in our culture. Hassevoort helps assuage any anxiety concerning musical leadership and quality education of young musicians. Second, young composers such as Ola Gjeilo assure the solidity of high-quality, serious composition for vocal and instrumental ensembles for many years to come.  

I was pleasantly surprised once again by the outstandingly collegiate sound of the Chattanooga State Community College Music Department Concert Choir and instrumental quintet. Their robust maturity allows them to hold their own with commanding assurance in our cultural community.

Liz Vice Headlines Nightfall Friday

Headliner artist Liz Vice will bring her neo gospel soul to Nightfall this week, preceded by local band Dr. B & the Ease. Nightfall is the 15-week free concert series produced by Chattanooga Presents at Miller Plaza.    Review for Liz Vice: Think Tina Turner, but if Ike had taken a minimalist approach to production and also suddenly really got into gospel music, ... (click for more)

National Spoken Word Artist Georgia Me Is Opening Act For Jill Scott Aug. 24

National spoken word artist and Tony Award winning poet Georgia Me has been named as the opening act for Grammy Award winning vocalist Jill Scott. Georgia Me, who performed alongside a lineup that was hosted by Scott in May, will travel with her and band mates in a 23 city tour across the United States. They will be performing in Chattanooga on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the Tivoli ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Whiskey Company To Construct Large Distillery At Former Site Of Newton Chevrolet

The Chattanooga Whiskey Company has begun construction on a larger production distillery in the former Newton Chevrolet property at the corner of MLK Boulevard and Riverfront Parkway near the Tennessee River. Once fully operational, the Riverfront Parkway facility will be capable of producing upwards of 14 (53-gallon) barrels per day, making it one of the largest craft bourbon ... (click for more)

Beck Upset By Criticism Of Late WWTA Director Cleveland Grimes In WWTA Analysis; Boyd Won't Rewrite 57-Page Report

County Commissioner Greg Beck said it was inappropriate for fellow Commissioner Tim Boyd to include articles critical of the late Cleveland Grimes in a 57-page report on the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority. He said, "Criticizing a dead man - I don't know if that's appropriate. If that's Christianity, let me off the wagon." Saying the report should ... (click for more)

Judge Steelman Was Unfairly Criticized In Handling Of School Bus Driver Rape Case - And Response

We are blessed to have freedom of speech in our society, but I am always amazed at the number of folks who voice such strong antagonistic opinions about things without any apparent first-hand knowledge.   As any who wish to criticize the system should know, people get arrested and charged for criminal offenses every day.  The ultimate charge and penalty which results ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vote For Rhonda Thurman

After studying the Hamilton County School Board quite harshly during the last seven most-tumultuous months in its history, it is only proper that I share my belief that Rhonda is its Most Valuable Player. Four of the school board’s nine members are up for re-election, with Rhonda facing capable opponents in Jason Moses and Dr. Patti Skates in District 1, but let’s never forget that ... (click for more)