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Santa Clara Chorale’s Kid-Friendly Spring Concert Stars Poetry-Writing Dragon

In what is becoming an annual tradition, the Santa Clara Chorale’s spring concert, directed by Dr. Scot Hanna-Weir with accompanist Dan Cromeenes, features a kid-friendly selection of music with free admission for children under 12 and just $5 for those 13 to 18. “Knights and Dragons,” which stars a poetry-writing dragon from “The Reluctant Dragon” by John Rutter, will be performed for the second and final time March 12, 2 p.m. at Mission Santa Clara.

The music appeals to the young and young-at-heart, telling of mythical creatures and people that overcome personal challenges. In the March 3 dramatization of “The Reluctant Dragon,” based on a story from 1898, the brave daughter of a shepherd sets off to search for a dragon, who is feared by the townspeople because he is rumored to be “a fire-breathing, fearsome, fabulous, fairy-tale, scaly, taily, green-bodied, red-eyed dragon,” in other words, a real bad guy.

“We want the dragon! Scrag ‘I’m, do ‘I’m, chop ‘Is ‘ead off!” sing the robust Villagers, looking every bit like Santa Clara Chorale singers. The shepherd’s daughter does, of course, find the dragon, who, because of his bent for rhyming rather than fighting, is slain by St. George. Or is he? Is the pen mightier than the sword?

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“Make new tracks together/ Walk hand in hand/ And never run and hide/ The paths that we must tread lie side by side,” sing the Villagers at the tale’s end.

Among other program pieces are an arrangement of Lewis Carroll’s mythical “Jabberwocky” and, from the musical of the same name, “The Man of La Mancha” and the “Impossible Dream,” inspiring all ages “To right the unrightable wrong” and “To reach the unreachable star.”

The March 3 performance was at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church and included more than 100 young singers from The Music School, directed by Doris Harry. The Music School (www.themusicschool.org) is a non-profit, open enrollment outreach program of the church.

The young singers sang an eclectic selection of songs: “Peace in Twelve Languages” by Tom Knight, “Jazz Cantate” by Andy Beck, “The Happy Wanderer” and “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

The Chorale joined them in singing “Amani Utupe” in English and Swahili: “Grant us peace, give us courage. Amani utupe na ustawi.”

“I felt good. At first the whole audience shook me up a little bit, but once I started singing, I just felt okay. I felt comfortable,” said 12-year-old Nakoa Urbina, a student at Hyde Middle School, Cupertino.

“[The concert] was exciting. I like watching the Chorale,” he continued. “Their songs are really long, but they’re fun and really catchy.”

“This program is part of our mission to introduce young people to music, whether it becomes a career or an avocation,” said Chorale soprano Lillian Pride, who discovered the Chorale online after moving to Union City from Pittsburg, PA. “I’ve been singing all my life, since I was little, in the church choirs.”

“The concert was wonderful–the professionalism of the adult singers and the enthusiasm of the children,” said Bev Olsen from Santa Clara, attending with her husband, Ric Olsen. “I’m so glad we came.”

Artistic director Hanna-Weir hoped to recruit new adult singers for the Santa Clara Chorale, which is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) arts organization and now numbers about 80 singers.

“The children tonight remind us that singing can be fun and that singing can be a lifetime activity,” said Hanna-Weir. “I say that for all of you because we have ongoing auditions. You, too, can sing!”

For Chorale information and tickets for “Knights and Dragons,” visit www.scc.org. The March 12 program does not include The Music School singers.

The 2016 – 2017 Chorale season finale May 12, 8 p.m., at Mission Santa Clara (one performance only) is the premier of the oratorio “Barbara Allen.” Contemporary composer Scott Gendel expands the traditional folk ballad, giving it operatic grandeur.

 

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