Lakeside Singers Review – Celebrating 10 Years of Feel Good Concerts

Lakeside Singers Celebration

Incubated by the Music Institute of Chicago, the Lakeside Singers are dedicated to bridging the worlds of classical and popular choral music by presenting a wide range of musical styles—including cross-cultural, classical literature from around the world as well as stylistically authentic arrangements of jazz, gospel, rock, folk, R&B and other popular genres—at the highest artistic level.

Tonight’s concert (April 17, 2009) was a shining example of just that.  Glide from a  harmonic madrigal to a powerful psalm, to a traditional spiritual to a rock spiritual to a heart-melting romantic piece to a dark, defiant song about death?  No problem for the Lakeside Singers!

We heard rich, complicated harmony, driving locomotive-paced rhythm, shrill voices in the midst of chaos, and voices that kissed the high notes with love and familiarity.

Yet these songs came from everywhere—Mongolia, Finland, India (in which Mike Molloy provided the harmonic overtones of a sitar!) and one singer got carried away, literally— and all that was before intermission!

After the intermission, everything changed, including apparel. The formal wear was replaced by turquoise lamé, signaling the sparkling numbers to come.

For starters, there was smooth jazz sprinkled with some nicely placed scat
a cappella singing, followed by a very upbeat “ Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” with Jon Negus on his hot sax.

Then the precarious and hilarious  “Loveland” from Sondheim’s Follies dramatized with costumes, sound effects and a little over-the-top emotion. Marianne Embree  made this so convincing, I wondered if it might be autobiographical.

One big number followed the next until the traditionally sedate “Sing-along.”  Not this time!  We sang a couple typical songs to warm up our vocal chords and then we let it rip with  “Ghostbusters.” Just to be sure there was the appropriate mayhem, two singers ran  up and down the aisles wearing backpack vacuum cleaners and flailing the hoses!  

The evening ended traditionally with Josie Falbo’s  rousing  rendition of a Spiritual, this time, “O Happy Days.”

And a good time was had by all.

Founded in the fall of 1999, the Lakeside Singers is a unique group of outstanding professional singers, composers and arrangers, half of whom have the majority of their performing experience in classical choral music and half in non-classical styles. Individually, they have performed in TV and radio commercials, operas, early music ensembles, film scores, Broadway shows, jazz clubs, cruise ships, cabarets and classical and popular concerts across the country.

The Lakeside Singers are headquartered in Evanston and operate under the leadership of Robert Bowker, noted singer, conductor, composer, arranger and producer. The devotion of The Lakeside Singers to their music is evident. Individuals must audition for acceptance to the group and must re-audition every two years.  

To see a video of excerpts from Lakeside Singers  Christmas Concert: visit

To order a CD of this concert or for information and reservation for additional performances, call (847) 382-5085 or visit

Photos: Lakeside Singers

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