Published in the Tuscaloosa News, December 6, 2013:
The Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra performs its “Angels We Have Heard on High” holiday concert, joined by voices from the Prentice Concert Chorale and the Alabama Choir School Monday.
Adam Flatt, a Sacramento, Calif., native, is the TSO’s sixth music director. His first season at the podium followed the 2011 tornadoes, and was highlighted with the April 2012 “Tuscaloosa Remembers and Rebuilds” concert.
“When I became director, I felt like it was really important that we start performing with other Tuscaloosa music organizations,” Flatt said. The TSO formed an alliance with the Alabama Choir School last year, and for 2013 added Prentice Concert Chorale.
Leslie Poss has served as adjunct music and student orientation faculty professor for eight years at Shelton State Community College. She is in her 11th season as director of Prentice Concert Chorale, a choir combining voices young and old, with a 40-year history in Tuscaloosa. Along with TSO, the PCC has sung with the University of Alabama Symphony and Alabama Symphony Orchestra. It recently performed Bach’s B minor Mass in April 2012 and joined The Rude Mechanicals in early November for a new production called Shakespeare Spoken & Sung.
Poss said it has been almost five years since they have performed with TSO, but PCC has sung with the group “multiple times.” She met Flatts last year and had a chance to share with him the relationship between the organizations.
“Thankfully, they invited us back,” Poss said.
The holiday concert sold out in 2012 and had 20 to 25 seats remaining at press time. TSO will host an overflow room in the Recital Hall in the Moody Music Building, for those interested in watching the concert on a 20-foot screen, for $5. Poss said this concert traditionally attracts a sold-out crowd. It has the draws of multiple choirs singing, with 130-150 performers ranging from young children to adults and seniors.
“And of course the draw of holiday music,” Poss said.
The PCC has been preparing for six weeks, with its final regular rehearsal last Monday night. Poss said they will get together three more times, once with Flatt and twice with him and the orchestra. The PCC typically works between two and three hours at a time.
“Any time we work with an orchestra, in addition to teaching the music, I have to teach them to learn the music and watch the conductor,” Poss said.
It can be challenging for the choir to work with one conductor and change to another, which the PCC will be doing between Poss and Flatt. She said the ability to watch and follow a conductor is crucial to time and sound. But Poss said she feels PCC is well prepared.
Flatt said that, as a conductor, it can be a challenge to bring two groups together, much less three.
“But what will be beautiful about this concert is that we have music to bring those older and younger voices together,” Flatt said.
The PCC will perform eight numbers, four alone and four with the TSO. The remaining songs will be a collaboration with the Alabama Choir School.
“This event is exciting as far as a town and gown kind of thing,” Poss said.
Poss said she likes a university organization working with two established art organizations in the community. The multiple ages involved show great planning, and it showcases the strength of the arts in Tuscaloosa, she said.
“It says for the community: We enjoy and appreciate these kind of events.”
Flatt said what motivates him as a director is the beautiful way music can create community; that was a stated goal of his when he began in 2011.
“We have musicians of widely different generational ages, truly in community, and I think that is a beautiful thing,” Flatts said.
Jessica Davis, executive director of the TSO, said there will be a silent auction at 6 before the concert. The auction will feature photography, original artwork, rentals of apartments in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Florida and Colorado, a football signed by Alabama coach Nick Saban, and a chance to conduct the TSO. All proceeds will benefit the TSO. Those interested only need show up at 6 to register for a paddle.