Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Seattle Women’s Chorus Rocked the House!

Sarah Rudinoff singing with the Seattle Women's Chorus (Conrado Tapado)

Seattle Women’s Chorus
Legends of Rock
April 28, 2019

Sarah Rudinoff and the entire Seattle Women’s Chorus rocked everyone’s socks off, Sunday, with their concert of “Legends of Rock”! The entire event was tight, energetic, fun, exciting, historical, educational, and … lots of other great adjectives.

Sarah Rudinoff was both “special guest star” and also the “host” of the evening, narrating the roughly chronological tour of songs of rock-and-roll women from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, ‘00s, and ‘10s. Rudinoff did several solos, including really challenging songs like Crazy on You (Heart) and Piece of My Heart (Janis Joplin)! She sounded amazing and hit every note squarely on the head while belting her face off.

Rudinoff was also a genial and assured narrator, introducing songs or catching us up on bits of historical data about each rocker. Other rocking songsters included Debbie Harry, Alanis Morissette, Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, and Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine).
Rudinoff made a poignant comment that when she and artistic director Paul Caldwell looked over the song list, they realized how “white” it was. To help support changing that dynamic in the future, SWC is raising money to give scholarships to young girls of color to go this summer to Rain City Rock Camp! RCRC specifically focuses on empowering girls, women, and gender non-conforming individuals in making music. SWC hopes to help at least several young women to get their “rocker” on, and you can help them.

The women were dressed in rocker-style tshirts and many took the opportunity to wear rocker makeup and wild hair. The fantastic band was decked out in shiny rocker style (with help from costume designer Doris Black).

The band members were given more focus than usual and had individual moments to shine. They were Marina Albero on keys, Alex Guy on violin, Olivia Hamilton on bass, Kathy Moore on guitar, Kate Olson on winds, and Faith Stankevitch on drums.

Local cover artist, Ayesha “Musicbox” Brooks, showed off her rocking style with a performance of Brittany Howard’s Hold On.

The technical aspects of the program were more rock-and-roll than usual with active colored lighting from Peter Bracilano. Scenic designer Kurt Walls had Whidbey Island artist Max Cole-Takanikos create a series of drawings that appeared to be pencil drawings of each of the rocker women credited for each song and framed the stage with them.

Deanna Burmester created “choralography” for several songs that added umph to the singing. Particularly fun movements were done for Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. Watching the Chorus dive into the program was wonderfully entertaining.

I have two very tiny critiques to make, one which is likely all my “own”… I missed the soprano parts when the Chorus performed Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi. It sounded nice, but there are a lot of wonderful sopranos in the group and I didn’t quite understand why the arrangement didn’t include the high parts.

Also, Benaroya Hall was big enough to fit the very-well sold concert, and I’m glad that so many got to see the one concert they scheduled. But, it’s a very staid environment and “rocking out” there seems disrespectful. But the audience seemed quite ready to clap and sing along and, in a smaller venue, more audience participation might have been encouraged. Indicating to the audience that they had more permission to clap would have been really nice.

The Supertonics, the chorus family’s acapella touring group, performed several of the songs. The acapella arrangements of their selections were excellent and showed their versatility. They are a super addition to the choruses work.

This was a fabulous concert. Many people have already said they think it’s the best SWC concert they’ve ever seen.

If you don’t want to miss any more SWC concerts or to attend the next SMC concert June 21 and 22 at Benaroya Hall, Summer of ’69, take a look at their website:

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