Richard Raub joined the faculty of Orange Coast College in 1970. Since that time he has seen his choral program grow and shrink and grow, as enrollment fluctuates.
For the present, though, his Orange Coast Chorale, composed of students and community members, appears to be in very healthy condition. Joined by the smaller College Singers, the 100-voice Chorale heroically met the challenges of Verdi's Requiem on Saturday evening at the Robert Moore Theatre.
Raub has trained his forces well. Maintaining fine balances and technical accuracy, the chorus delivered the text with dynamic vigor, expression and clarity. One could well imagine the fires of perdition hearing the Dies irae, feel the ebullient excitement of the Sanctus, or be stricken with the grief of the Lacrymosa.
A great deal of the Requiem features a part or all of the solo quartet, and the soloists proved more than merely competent. Soprano Deborah Voigt sang the Libera me with dramatic fervor, though her high notes became a bit unfocused on occasion.
Tenor Daniel Harper, too, proved vocally powerful, but allowed his timbre to vary widely in the high register.
Hector Vasquez brought poignancy to the Mors stupebit and Confutatis sections; his rich, vibrant bass was marred only by an occasional rough entrance.
Candice Burrows sang with the most refinement; though her voice wasn't as strong as those of her colleagues, the mezzo soprano brought unusual sensitivity to the Liber Scriptus. Her sound, moreover, remained limpid, sweet and consistent.
As a quartet, the group blended remarkably well, balance inequities aside, particularly in the moving account of the Pie Jesu.
The orchestra, composed entirely of professionals, played with the sort of precision that Raub obviously demands, and only a couple of minor intonation gaffes detracted from an otherwise model performance.