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Columbia Pro Cantare
Press Reviews

My last stop was for an off-beat program by the combined choruses of Columbia Pro Cantare and Church of the Redeemer, where the concert was held.

Janacek's setting of "Our Father" is filled with fascinating touches, melodic and instrumental (organ and harp provide the accompaniment). It's more than a prayer; it's a mini-drama, enriched by the composer's trademark harmonic spice and rhythmic pulse. Frances Motyca Dawson drew a generally polished, sensitive performance from her forces, singing in Czech. For the most part, Devin Mercer handled the demanding tenor solo sturdily. Harpist Iraida Poberezhnaya and organist Henry Lowe were valuable assets.

Dvorak's Mass in D, Op. 86, is a very attractive work, with many eloquent melodies (and a few overused chord progressions at coda time). Dawson did an admirable job emphasizing the lyricism in the original, organ-accompanied score; Lowe provided that accompaniment expertly. The chorus again demonstrated a good deal of technical smoothness and expressive elegance.

The solo quartet did very class work -- soprano Emily Noel, alto Monica Reinagel and, no worse the wear from Beethoven's Ninth the night before, Davenport and Cantrell. Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun's Music Critic, in his blog <http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/classicalmusic/.>

It was a special joy to hear Brahms and Dvořák on the Jim Rouse Theatre stage Saturday night - ...there was light, gentle crooning from the tenors in the closing Selig sind die Toten.... How lovely is thy dwelling place couldn't have been lovelier..., and a bright, perky So seid nun geduldig disrupted the ominous intensity of Denn alles fleisch... in just the manner Brahms intended.   Baltimore Sun - November 4, 2004

Conductor Frances Motyca Dawson...brought...the full weight of the chorus and orchestra into the music - The Columbia Pro Cantare singers, with the MusicCrafters Orchestra, have managed once again to breathe new life into a major neglected choral work.  The performance of the Requiem featured disciplined choral work, shining solos and lustrous orchestral textures.  Washington Post - October 15, 1986

The Columbia Pro Cantare, headquartered deep in the Maryland suburbs... always brings something special - The Chorus was beautifully trained, with well-balanced tone and precise diction that managed to keep its clarity in the church's fine but resonant acoustics. Washington Post - September 16, 1988

Enthusiasm is...one of the hallmarks of the Cantare's conductor, Frances Motyca Dawson - The Cantare sound is impressive, with a wide tonal and expressive range, good diction and, most important, passionate devotion to the music which it performs.  Columbia Flyer - March 26, 1992

Verdi's...counterpoint...rang out with power and joy - The stars of the evening were Motyca Dawson and her singers.  Their diction was superb...intensely chromatic harmonies were handled with aplomb...one of the elite choirs in Maryland is right here in your back yard.  Baltimore Sun - October, 1999

...Absolutely beautiful... - The lines of chant on which Durufle crafts the structure of his Mass were sung clearly and freely.  The "Christe Eleison," one of the most sumptuous choral passages ever composed, sounded absolutely beautiful, and there was an appealing sense of lift to the Sanctus that can easily remain earthbound in less supple hands.  Baltimore Sun

Mendelssohn's 'Elijah' is gloriously rendered  - Kudos to the tenors for delivering "And the rivers are exhausted" with a pathos that conveyed the desperation of the famine- stricken Israelite nation.  At "Cast thy burden," the choir was angelic to a fault, and Mendelssohn's counterpoint rang out with wonderful authority in "Behold, God the Lord Passed By."  Baltimore Sun for Howard County - October 25, 2001