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The Smallman A Cappella Choir, which rendered a program at Jordan Hall Sunday, is native to the State of California, and, to emphasize this fact, is dressed in bright costumes of Spanish origin, which are not particularly appropriate to the occasion or the program. With a few changes to a less jarring and more dignified color scheme this element of the entertainment could be made an organic and pleasing part of the performance.
This is a small fault, however, to hold against an organization with the present facility and the possibilities of development which this choir possesses. The voices of the thirty four singers--equally divided among the sexes--are decidedly above the average, blend well together, and show a thorough knowledge of musical technique which only needs a little more polishing. Their repertoire covers the wide range from the informal Old English Round "The Peddlar" to Bach's formal choral "Sing Ye To The Lord." It is apparent that the singers are more at home in such folk-songs as the "Fum! Fum! Fum!" than in Brahms' "The Wall of Heaven"; but their ability to color and shade the simpler songs, to give these a real vitality, puts them among finished artists.
John Smallman, the founder and conductor, knows how to manage his singers, and to bring out the range and power of their voices. And the choir was unfailing responsive to his demands upon it. As a last suggestion: if there were some more definite way of establishing among the singers the pitch of each song--none was apparent to the audience--such unfortunate excursions off the key as occurred in the "Irish Tune from County Derry" might be avoided.
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