The nearly 60 men of the Mendelssohn Club were in a buoyant mood Friday night at The Egg to give the Club’s 102nd holiday concert.
Sporting red bow ties, cummerbunds and a posy in their lapels, they sang a mix of seasonal favorites, several hallelujah-type choruses from different nationalities and some men’s choruses from opera and oratorio. With director Victor Klimash at the helm, the chorus stayed close to the mark. This was also Klimash’s last holiday concert with the Mendelssohn as he intends to retire at the end of this season and move to Louisiana. Michael Clement provided his usual stalwart support.
As is the Club’s tradition, a guest is always featured for this concert. The female jazz vocal trio String of Pearls provided the sparkle of show biz during two of the concert segments. Sue Halloran, Jeanne O’Connor and Holli Ross, all dressed in long, bright red gowns, sounded like the Andrews Sisters. They were supported by the tasty backup band of pianist Peg Delaney, drummer Pete Sweeney and bassist Pete Toigo.
The evening began with Percy Fletcher’s “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” followed by Allan Naplan’s “Al Shlosha D’Varim,” which the chorus sang in Hebrew. The men sounded robust and did some confident part singing. A boisterous “Hava Nageela,” which had the men shifting keys expertly, got a rousing applause from the large crowd.
They showed they could take on the serious stuff with the “Pilgrims’ Chorus” from Wagner’s “Tannhaüser.” Klimash set a brisk tempo with much forward momentum. String of Pearls entertained with “Mr. Santa,” “Christmas Time is Here” and “Personality.”
The third segment featured four tunes that Klimash had arranged. All were sung a cappella and showed off Klimash’s penchant for interesting if not unusual harmonies and tricky part writing. These included “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Silent Night” with Michael Wright conducting, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” with bass John Musacchio (who joined in 2009) as the able soloist, and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
Also noteworthy were the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s “Messiah,” a good attempt at Beethoven’s Hallelujah chorus from his “Mount of Olives,” a mystical “Alleluia: Amen,” and more String of Pearls. The concert concluded with several seasonal favorites.