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Music amid sculptures surreal, sublime

Reviewer: Janet Martineau

Venue: Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum

There are no words or photographs that will truly capture what happened Thursday night (Feb.  8) at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.

Nothing. Even though we are making an attempt with both here.

The Saginaw Choral Society presented “A Musical Promenade” set among the white  plaster  models of  some of the most famous Fredericks sculptures – including the 28-foot  image of Christ on the Cross  that resides in bronze at Indian River.

The main gallery at the Fredericks Museum, on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University,  is massive with high ceilings. And on this night,  surrounding most of the white plaster models,  was a sea of golden glowing candles. The optics were to die for, a “set” that was beyond the imagination.

Enter eight  singers, a flutist and a pianist performing a mixed bag of music in two areas of the gallery… surprising us with incredible acoustics offering an ever so slight and pleasing reverberation.

Last week in another Saginaw Choral Society concert,  mezzo-soprano Stephanie Bale delighted the ears with a jazzy take on a Burt Bacharach song. On this  evening, she teamed up with super soprano Erin Whitfield on “The Flower Duet” from the Delibes opera “Lakme.” Take  me now God because I will never hear anything again as beautiful as this in such a beautiful setting and sound.

The flutist was Jeremiah Kraniak, the Saginaw Choral Society conductor who is a fabulous singer as well. Those ever so slight reverberations mentioned took his flute playing  a notch above.

And the pianist supporting the singers was Catherine McMichael. Need need I say more. She and the singers always become one, and on this program three of the selections performed were her own compositions — including the rich and captivating “Baikal Journey,’’  a four movement work featuring Kraniak on the flute.

Just for irreverent fun, tenor Jim Smerdon was delightful in “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park’’  by Tom Lehrer.

Twelve selections in all. Superbly rendered in that golden glow with white plaster sculptures everywhere,  created by a world renowned master who lived in the Detroit area.

Somewhere Fredericks, who died in 1998, is smiling and nodding his approval.

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