The Burbank Chorale is celebrating its 90th anniversary with one of its most successful years ever, as it prepares to deliver "The Sounding Joy," its holiday concert, on Saturday.
The group, founded in 1920, will be accompanied by the Burbank Chorale Orchestra and the Colburn Children's Choir. The selections will include "The 7 Joys of Christmas," "Schubert's Mass in G," and "The Hallelujah Chorus," among many others.
The volunteer handling all of the group's publicity, Kyrian Corona, expects the 90th to be the most successful event so far.
"We've had so much talent, so much energy, and so many people at the grass-roots level to keep our success going. Every board member has done a superb job, helping us to continue growing, even during the recession," she said. "Our program ad sales broke all records. All 13 board members give 100%, and they have such dedicated, talented, and energetic people working with them."
Corona and other chorale members give much of the credit to Artistic Director Misha Shtangrud. Born in Russia, Shtangrud has a doctorate in musical arts from USC, but it's his people skills that have inspired confidence in many singers, and brought out the hidden talents in many others, members said.
"Misha has great insight and a gift for bringing out the best of the best (performances) on stage, but he also brings to the rehearsals the highest level of preparation," Corona said. "No one gets paid here, so it's all about the camaraderie—the professional relationships of the people in the choir."
Tenor Glenn Newland, a Glendale resident who grew up singing in the choir in a Methodist church in a small town in Kentucky, agrees.
"Misha is extremely strong at keeping people engaged, not only on the musical level, but also you need a social component," he said. "The music is important but part of what makes you closer is your relationship with the rest of the group."
Newland is the chorale's social director. His position on the seating chart makes him feel as much a part of the audience as a performer in a concert.
"I feel like I have the best seat in the house, sitting front and center, you can't help sometimes getting into the music," he said. "You can't help but getting caught up in it."
For Nathaniel Livesey, an atmospheric chemist at the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it's also about personal chemistry. Livesey, a resident of Montrose, met his wife, Julie, at one of the chorale's rehearsals, and it was easy for them to harmonize.
"Sometimes the challenge is to blend complex meandering in four parts, but when you have a straightforward harmony (such as the "Mass in G"), which is melodically straightforward, a choral group has got to sound like one voice, a unified group," Livesey said. "You've got to pay attention to when they're breathing, what your neighbor is doing."
Nathaniel and Julie Livesey perform Christmas carols every year at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. The work of Bach is among his favorites, he said, because of its mathematical structure. After all, Livesey is a scientist.
Normally she is first soprano, but Evelyn Davis will be watching from the audience this year. The longtime Burbank resident recently twisted and broke her fight foot.
"I'll be rooting from the sidelines," she said.
Davis and other members of the chorale are also involved in other activities in Burbank, such as the Mayor's Tree Lighting Ceremony, where shoppers and movie-goers were treated to choruses of "Here Comes Santa Claus," "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night."
What: Burbank Chorale presents "The Sounding Joy" holiday concert
Where: First United Methodist Church, 700 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: Presale tickets: $15 all ages; at the door: adults, $20; children under 12, $15
Contact: (818) 759-9177 or visit http://www.burbankchorale.org