It’s surprising that an audience could get so much joy from the tragic musical Les Miserables, but that’s exactly what happened when the San Fernando Valley Master Chorale took the stage for a magnificent concert performance at the Madrid Theater in Canoga Park. The Les Miz revue was presented by the Los Angeles Pierce College Philharmonic Choir with conductor Terry Danne at the helm.
It was a great showcase for the excellent soloists including Karen Matranga as a delicate Fantine singing the powerful “I Dreamed a Dream”; Quentin Garzon added heart to Javert’s “Stars”; heartbreaking was Yilin Wentlandt as Eponine with “On My Own,” as well as Kyle Swanson at “The Barricade” with Joaquin Labado, who inspired with “Empty Tables.” Also noteworthy were Annalise McLain and Rusty Gregg as sweet young lovers Cosette and Marius. And Sara Rowe as the child Cosette impressed with her dreamy “Castle on a Cloud.”
But the goose-bump moment came when tenor Kevin Story sang “Bring Him Home” with his ethereal tenor voice capturing the essence of Valjean. Always a showstopper is “Master of the House,” sung with wicked humor by Andrew Metzger and Jennie Fahn. The Chorale added tremendous fun as denizens of the tavern, and their strong harmonies throughout added quality to the concert, especially for the stirring ensemble selections “At the End of the Day,” “One More Day,” and “Do You Hear the People Sing.”
The evening started with musical actress Kristin Towers-Rowles sharing stories and singing a tribute to her grandmother, Kathryn Grayson, beloved star of Hollywood musicals. Grayson was the darling of MGM for her crystal clear soprano voice, and Kristin has inherited the high-C talent, performing songs from Kiss Me Kate, Showboat, and many crowd-pleasing favorites.
Towers-Rowles was delighted to work again with her former director, conductor Terry Danne. As always, Danne brought out the best in everyone as the founder and artistic director of the SF Valley Master Chorale and the Premiere Chorale. Dr. Donald Caldwell was the assistant conductor and Dr. Frank Garvey pianist with the superb orchestra.