The Halalisa Singers celebrate spring with an international celebration of the joys of singing in “Lift Up Your Voice!” on May 5-6 in Lexington and Cambridge.
The concert’s title comes from Brian Tate’s “Lift Up Your Voice!,” written in a gospel style. Featuring inspirational, energetic group singing and soaring soloists, the song speaks to the power of making a joyful noise. Another example of that power is found in the South African “Bambelela (Never Give Up),” a traditional piece expressing courage and perseverance in the face of tragedy. In Ralph Manuel’s beautiful a cappella masterwork “Allelulia,” the chorus shows its lyrical side, while Ernani Aquiar’s “Salmo 150” showcases fast, rhythmic, exciting vocal work and Aaron Copland’s “Zion’s Walls” interprets folk melodies through a contemporary classical lens. Master songwriter Leonard Cohen is represented in Philip Lawson’s arrangement of “Hallelujah,” a well-loved folk song exploring the many meanings of worship. International selections include the Bulgarian folk song “Rumjana,” Stephen Leek’s “Kungala” based on Australian aboriginal music, “Solidaridad” set to text by Mexican poet Amado Nervo, and the lovely Hebrew prayer “Al Shlosha D’Varim.” Expect the unexpected in Stephen Hatfield’s “Tjak,” a fascinating and fun work inspired by the Balinese monkey chant. The Kenyan number “Wana Baraka” starts slowly and builds into an ecstatic wall of sound, proclaiming the blessings of life and song. The concert concludes with Paul Halley’s “Freedom Trilogy,” which combines the Kyrie from “Missa de Angelis” with South African freedom songs and “Amazing Grace” for a masterful and moving choral experience.
Accompanying the singers will be pianist Valerie Ross, percussionist Bertram Lehmann, and Reed Butler on electric bass.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mary Cunningham Neumann, the Halalisa Singers are now in their eighteenth year offering performances in the Boston area. Formed in 1993 by renowned songleader and Mystic Chorale director Nick Page, this Lexington-based vocal ensemble is the greater Boston area’s premier world music ensemble. Halalisa is the Zulu word for “celebration”, and in that spirit, the Halalisa repertoire includes African, Latin, Spiritual, Jewish, Folk and Jazz music. A diverse group of men and women, The Halalisa Singers are inspired by the belief that music is a universal language with the power to uplift and unite us all. For more information about The Halalisa Singers, please visit their website: www.halalisa.org