Bel Canto at the Basilica
Bel Canto Chorus Music Director Richard Hynson started the program early Saturday night by leading the audience in some traditional Christmas songs like “Silent Night.”
By the time the capacity crowd filled the seats and balconies of the storied Basilica of St. Josaphat on Milwaukee’s near south side, the newly formed Bel Canto Boy Choir didn’t need to do much to win them over. Nonetheless, the 20 boys lifted spirits with ten renditions led by Ellen Shuler. Highlights included accompaniment and a solo offering from acclaimed harpist Kelsey Erdahl.
After an intermission, the program jumped right into the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble’s set. John Behnke led his performers into creating a haunting vibration that ebbed and flowed from various effect as they performed traditional Christmas numbers, along with a creative “Bell Carol Fantasy” in place of the expected “Caroling of the Bells.”
The program continued with another set by the Chorus performing lesser known winter works such as John Joubert’s “Torches.” The long program finished with all performing groups joining in on John Behnke arranged versions of “Holly and the Ivy,” “Nowell” and Mary Lynn Place Badarak’s “Brightest and Best.”
Click on this link for a 2-minute (WMV file) audio slideshow from the performance (Click here for the YouTube version.)
Click on any thumbnail below for a full-sized view. Photo shoot completed with permission by Bel Canto Chorus.