Pacific Boychoir Performance Review - Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil” Brought to Life

The Pacific Boychoir performed Rachmaninoff's Vespers “All-Night Vigil” on May 10, 2013.  It was held at the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, CA. I had never been to that church before, so when I walked in I was amazed at the beauty within. It was night so I wasn’t able to see the details on most of the stain glass windows, but they had lights reflecting on some of them that gave it a majestic feeling.

The music began with the sound of the pitch pipe giving the starting note, because the Vigil was sung a capella. The sound was rich and full as they began to sing the first movement, “Priidite, Poklonimsia (Come, Let Us Worship).”  During the second movement “Blagoslovi, Dushe Moya, Ghospoda (Bless the Lord, O My Soul)” three boys came towards the front and about 14 of the boys went to sit in the side pews. The three boys sang in unison as the remainder of the choir sang in the background.  the boys sound was clear and they sang as one voice.

Throughout the performance their dynamics were spectacular. They would rise and fall together. During the sixth movement, “Bogoroditse Devo (Rejoice, O Virgin)” it was as if an orchestra was playing along with them. As movement seven “Shestopsalmiye (The Six Psalms)” began you could feel the bass line resonate through you. It was as if there were monks chanting praises to their God.

Tenor Daniel Coy Babcock graced us with his vocals in movements four, five and nine. Before the performance I read that he was an acclaimed soloist in high demand. After his performance I can see why. He sings with such grace and movement, that it brings the music to life. His voice floated so perfectly over the choir. Which is credit to him and the choir. In movement nine “Blagosloven Yesi, Ghospodne (Blessed Art Thou, O Lord)” the choir sang with such a lyrical feeling, that it was as if it was floating through the air. The boys singing the soprano line sounded of angles and with the mix of the men’s bass line, the movement reached into my soul, and I felt it resonating deep within.

As movement 15 “Vzbrannoy Voyevode (To Thee, the Victorious Leader)” took its place in the Vigil you knew the end was near. All of the boys were singing with confidence and power. each had a unique look about them, a certain way they held their music or carried themselves, but their voices were as one. As a singer myself I know of the difficulty it can be to have a seamless blend of voices, especially in young students.  I applaud the Pacific Boychoir for their dedication and skill.

The Pacific Boychoir is made up of young men ages 5-18, and are based in Oakland, California. They have performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, the Vienna Boys Choir, the Trinity Lyric Opera, the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra and many other groups. They are a group of well behaved boys. I’ve taught and watched my share of boys ages 5-18 and the majority of them don’t sit still especially at classical concerts. these boys showed their love for the music and singing by learning the Russian words, sitting patiently when they were not singing, and giving an absolutely beautiful performance.

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