No, it wasn’t that Hogan. It wasn’t Colonel Robert E. Hogan of the 1965-1971 Hogan’s Heroes television sitcom set in a WWII German POW camp. This Hogan is Moses Hogan, a 20th century, Louisiana-born musician who brought American spirituals to the concert stage and, before his death in 2003, was considered the world’s foremost authority on the concert spiritual.
The Santa Clara Chorale’s first concert of its 53rd season, held Oct. 25 at Mission Santa Clara, was unique in that it consisted entirely of spirituals arranged either by Hogan or Hogan’s spiritual heroes-Jester Hairston, Harry Burleigh, Undine Smith Moore, Edward Boatner, Hall Johnson, Nathaniel Dett, Marvin Mills, Margaret Bonds and William Dawson.
“Moses Hogan may be responsible for injecting the concert spiritual into standard choral repertoire and for introducing professional choral spiritual singing to the world,” wrote Santa Clara Chorale Artistic Director Scot Hanna-Weir in the concert notes.
The spirituals-some familiar, others less well known-were sung a cappella by the Chorale, solo by coloratura soprano Marlissa Hudson accompanied on the piano by Hanna-Weir, and by their combined voices.
“Scot treats spirituals with the same reverence as Verdi,” says Hudson, who travelled to Santa Clara from Washington, D.C., where she and Hanna-Weir were once colleagues at All Souls Unitarian Church.
“This is a different version than what you’re used to hearing in Sunday school,” Hudson teases before singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” arranged by Bonds.
The concert closed with Hogan’s arrangement of “The Battle of Jericho” sung by all voices, including 17 Santa Clara Chorale Honor Singers-South Bay middle and high school students recommended by their teachers.
“I feel really honored to be singing with this choir and having a fantastic singer like Marlissa. Rehearsing here, I captured the beauty of the Mission,” says Joselaine Ocumin, a Santa Clara High School senior.
The well-attended concert held broad appeal for Chorale supporters from around the South Bay.
“I really like the fact that it’s spiritual. Whether as a genre or classical, it’s very comforting to me. I love to be in the Mission,” says Fieke Dijkstra ofSan Jose.
“There’s a good balance between the Chorale and the soprano,” she adds.
Marleen Vandepoll, visiting from the Netherlands, attended the concert with her sister, Palo Alto resident Stans Kleijnen.
“Gospel speaks to your soul. You don’t have to be a music expert to appreciate it,” agree the sisters.
“It’s cool to see the history [through the spirituals] of how the slaves felt about the situation they were in. The concert brings back history and makes you remember the struggles they went through,” says Emil Annevelink, a junior at UC Berkeley.
“Every concert this season has a story,” says Hanna-Weir.
The next concert story will be “The Christmas Truce” performed Dec. 12 and 14 at Mission Santa Clara. It is the 100-year-old true story of the December 1914 impromptu Christmas Eve truce during which English and German soldiers put down their weapons and sang carols together.
The Santa Clara Chorale (www.scc.org) is a nonprofit organization open to the community and funded by donations and grants, including from the City of Santa Clara and the Mission City Community Fund.