Morton Gold

Morton Gold

SANFORD — A group of 17 vocalists and three instrumentalists known as the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters performed for a large crowd at the Memorial Gym on April 14.

The concert was part of a 20-city tour of the Northeast by this versatile group. While they performed a variety of songs in different genres and styles, and did so very well, I might add the program got off on a very high note by a rendition of the National Anthem. This is the way the anthem ought to be sung, but rarely is.

There were no embellishments, sliding or added notes, all in the name of “interpretation.” The word “ban” (part of ban-ner) was one note instead of two as most uninformed folks tend to sing it. In short, it made me stand a bit taller than I usually do. There were several conductors, and all of them were good.

While essentially the Sea Chanters specialize in jazz or show choir repertoire, they demonstrated their versatility by giving a superb rendition on an a cappella composition called “Prayer” composed by Rene Claussen to a text by Mother Theresa of Calcutta. This work was given a sensitive reading conducted by Benjamin Bransford III.

The other conductors were Adam Whitman and Robert A. Kurth. Each section of the Chanters has trained voices well rehearsed in the music they perform. The singers sang not only together but also in separate groups. The ladies in the chorus shone in a series of songs called “Blue Medley” consisting of “Proud Mary,” “Sittin’ on the Dock by the Bay” and “Blue Bayou.” The male contingent shone in their rendition in “Men of Motown,” a medley of six songs.

One singer who caught my attention was Adam Whitman. He has a rare voice known as a counter tenor. This occurs when a man can sing notes normally found only in female singers. He was superb in “I Can’t Get Next to You.”

There were three instrumentalists who participated in most of the selections. They included Caroline Evans (piano); Randy D. Mattson (bass) and Kevin V. Taylor (percussion). A key non-musician but very important to the success of the group was Christopher M. Troupe, the audio engineer.

While many singers held the rank of Musician 1st Class, others rose to the rank of Chief Musician, and Mattson holds the rank of Master Chief Musician. The singers obviously were selected for the group carefully, as they demonstrated their versatility throughout the hour-plus concert. As an encore, they sailed through eight pop standard songs starting with “The Age of Aquarius” and including among others “Downtown.”

The audience loved it, and gave the group a standing ovation. As the program stated: “Throughout their history, the Sea Chanters have remained true to the Navy’s watchwords of pride and professionalism, and they continue to flourish as a vibrant ensemble.”

This concert underlined these words, and I suspect that this concert was no exception to them.

— Morton Gold is a composer/ conductor, retired educator and an arts reviewer of the Journal Tribune.

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