Go Tell It: Master Chorale Wins Again!
McDonald's Gospelfest 2002
The Connecticut Master Chorale once again reached the pinnacle of the annual McDonald’s Gospelfest Competition in Stamford this Memorial Day weekend, this time with their rousing rendition of "Go Tell It on the Mountain." For the second year in a row the Danbury based Chorale brought home the first-place trophy, a check for $1,000 and another afternoon full of exciting memories.
Though gospel is not the norm for the Chorale which performs an eclectic repertoire including the great masterpieces, Director Tina Johns Heidrich often includes a piece or two of gospel music in one of their three regular concerts each season. The piece they performed at the Gospelfest this year was one they offered in their November 2001 Holiday Prelude concert, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" accompanied by Joe Jacovino at the piano. It started out with a soulful solo, offered beautifully by the sultry alto voice of Jackie Gaudet, and quickly burst into full chorus. As the pace accelerated Heidrich became increasingly animated and the house began to rock. By the end of the piece the entire audience was on their feet, cheering and shouting.
"Standing in front of that kind of a reaction I had to actually fight to sing and not grin." said Dave Cook of Bethel who sings bass.
First Place Again
Chorale Members after winning Gospelfest 2002
Unlike last year, this year the audience knew what to expect. Many remembered the Chorale and applauded enthusiastically as they filed onto the stage. The applause grew considerably louder as Heidrich, herself, entered. It was evident that they remembered her very well.
"I never heard anything of the second half of the piece! Just too much noise; hollering & hooting and clapping and shouting!" remarked Margaret Jacobsen of Woodbury, whose husband Dave sings bass. "Before the end, everyone - and I mean everyone, - were on their feet. I wish (the singers) could have been with the audience as well as on stage just to hear it."
Entering the McDonald's Gospelfest Competition last year was a lark. The experience proved immensely rewarding, however, and for the group winning was just icing on the cake. This year the Gospelfest producers invited Heidrich and the Chorale to enter again, and the group was delighted to once more reach the finals from the field of over 3000 groups. "But to win again… What a thrill! Wow!" exclaimed alto Nancy Lavers of Danbury.
A. Curtis Farrow, Director/Producer of the 19 year old Gospelfest, remarked "This group is amazing! They've won two years in a row, and not many people can say that."
After the competition ended and the winners were announced, Ms. Heidrich and numerous members of the chorus found themselves outside the Palace Theatre besieged by departing audience members offering their heartfelt congratulations. Many said they remembered the group from last year and were delighted to hear them again. "You’ve got spunk! You guys were jumpin'!" shouted one woman. One more said, "You represented the state of Connecticut and made me so proud!" And another, "Your performance was the best part of the entire show!"
The Danbury based Connecticut Master Chorale, founded and directed by Tina Johns Heidrich, is a group of 55 auditioned, highly gifted, select area singers. In their short three year history the Chorale has sung as invited guests at West Point Military Academy, with the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, with the Nutmeg Opera Company and most recently at Carnegie Hall under the direction of John Rutter, the famous British Composer and Conductor. The group has already been invited back to Carnegie Hall and will be singing there in January 2003.