Feasting on Fall

Fall in Savannah offers too much temptation for the cultural gluttons among us.

It appears that the nothing-to-do days of "Slow-vannah" are behind us once and for all. Last weekend's performance and events menu, though bursting with choices for every cultural palate, wasn't an exceptionally busy line up by current Savannah standards. Hardly a week passes in Savannah that isn't packed with music, art, literature, and theater for every taste and age group.

For festival lovers, last weekend's offerings included the Telfair Art Fair, the Children's Book Festival, the Blues and Barbecue Festival, and SCAD's deFINE Festival.

Theater choices included a professional touring performance of Avenue Q, and the final weekend of the City of Savannah's production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Concerts? The Johnny Mercer Centennial's capstone event, Jackson Browne's solo show, and a classical performance by 19-year-old gold medal pianist Haochen Zhang at the Lucas all looked tempting.

Not so long ago, this banquet of events would have been the perfect excuse for me to go on a cultural binge, racing from the book festival to the art fair to a theater performance to a concert, ignoring errands, chores and family commitments for yet another weekend.

Such gluttony has its consequences, and in the past I've suffered repeatedly from Sunday night burn out, overstuffed and exhausted after a weekend of over-consumption of the arts.

In an effort at moderation, I limited myself to one cultural serving last weekend, choosing something new for me -- Sunday afternoon's Savannah Children's Choir Annual Winter Concert at First Presbyterian Church in Ardsley Park.

With all those professional and grown up offerings available, a children-centered event could have been a poor choice. Often, the quality of kids' performances seems to improve in direct proportion to the closeness of the relationships between audience members and performers. Children's concerts typically get higher approval ratings from the participants' parents, aunties, and godmothers than from rank-and-file audience members.

But the Savannah Children's Choir's reputation for quality gave me confidence, despite having no relatives, neighbors or close kiddie pals among the singers.

This was no familial obligation. I went seeking entertainment and quality performances. The show was delicious. Some selections were rich, others were light. All were thoroughly satisfying.

Launched in 2006 by Roger Moss and Cuffy Sullivan, this year's choir consists of 47 local children in 2nd through 8th grade, selected through an audition process. Sunday's concert of 14 pieces was a musical smorgasbord, with folk songs from Israel, Germany, Wales and Russia, two traditional Negro Spirituals, and a medley of classic Christmas carols.

The concert opened with Homeland by Gustav Holst, a complex choral showcase piece performed by the 6th through 8th grade Senior Choir. The piece let the 200-plus audience members know up front that this is a chorus with some serious chops.

Children in 2nd through 5th grade comprise the Preparatory Choir, who performed most of the folk music on the program. The younger girls wore blue pinafores reminiscent of the Von Trapp Family, while the younger boys sported white shirts and bowties, each tie with its own unique tilt.

Poised performances were the order of the day, with the rare elbow nudge or stray yawn proving that kids will be kids.

No teachable moment was wasted by artistic director Roger Moss, leading the bows after most songs with a countdown "one-two-three-bow" signal of his fingers. Before the all-choir finale, Moss refocused the ensemble with a knee-unlocking, energy-revving series of bounces.

Timothy Hall made his Savannah Children's Choir debut as associate director, leading the Consort, a seven member ensemble of the Senior Choir. Hall also performed a pipe organ rendition of Joyful, Joyful as the intro to the choir's finale, an impressive classical and contemporary melding of the Beethoven hymn.

The Savannah Children's Choir has two more performances scheduled before year's end, for those who missed Sunday's concert, or for those who attended and are ready to pile on more cultural helpings.

Gluttony of this sort has its benefits. The errands and chores can wait for another day.

Savannah Children's Choir upcoming concerts

Hospice Savannah Remembrance Day, Sunday, Dec. 6, 5 pm

Jepson Center for the Arts Gospel Brunch, Sunday, Dec. 13, 12:30 pm

For more information: (912) 228-4758, www.savannahchoir.org













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