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Groups off to promising start

Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus opened its 2013-14 season with a concert at the Omak Performing Arts Center on Oct. 20, and the season is off to a promising start.

The chorus, under new director Jonathan McBride, fielded a good-sized group of singers, including a few sopranos who could reach up into high-octave notes, which they did on occasion.

They sang with a robust tone, as if they were enjoying what they were doing. Diction was clean, and they maintained the tight ensemble that has been their mark.

They opened with a group of selections from various Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, which included “We Sail the Ocean Blue,” which should have felt at home here although it has been some years since we gave that one.

I hope we don’t get stuck on another string of nothing but G & S. We just about wore that one out before.

This was followed by Mendelssohn’s “Lark Song,” part of a group on spring. “The Road Not Taken,” from a poem by Robert Frost, one could suppose, is built on a narrative or argument, the argument in this sense meaning not a fight but a working out of the burden of the text.

Then the orchestra took the stage and gave a full-blooded rendition of Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9.

The second movement contains the theme that has been converted into an anthem and used in many churches. It has been known as “Going Home” and is probably the most familiar section of the work.

The entire orchestra was kept busy through most of the literature they played in this concert. It was a very vigorous program, and they met it on their own terms.

It must have been a tough one to play. Or does such a demanding score provide its own adrenaline?

“Oh, Clap Your Hands,” originally set for soprano, alto, tenor and bass choir, accompanied by brasses and percussion, was arranged for full orchestra by Vaughn Williams.

The percussion influence continued in the setting for full orchestra, and the orchestra was kept very busy, running all the way from soft, insistent notes to much louder tones. There were almost no rests in his score.

So we’re off on another season. This was music from the big league. And we didn’t have to go to Seattle or Chicago or Vienna to hear it.

Elizabeth Widel is a columnist and reviewer for The Chronicle. She may be reached at 509-826-1110.

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