Mosaic / Music / Reviews / April 29, 2010

Nova Singers close 24th season with soulful American Folk

Knox music professor Laura Lane has done it again. Last Saturday, the Nova Singers presented The Road Home in their 24th season. Twenty voices led by Lane took the audience on a trip through time across traditional American folk tunes. These are the songs I sang in middle school, except, unlike when I sang them, I heard what hard work and a lot of talent can do.

Lane was able to evoke rise and fall, forte and piano and flexibility in so few members. Many favorites were performed, including “Nelly Bly,” “How Can I Keep from Singing” and “The Road Home.” My favorites were “All the Pretty Little Horses” with a solo sung by alum Philippe Moore and “Hard Times.”

Although Kresge Recital Hall did not have the same acoustic ring of the First Congregation Church, I could not help but resonate with the message of the concert. Times are rough and things get bad, but singing praise for what we can will help get us through.

I can only imagine how the lyrics of the songs must have affected Lane. She is so involved with every member on stage and attends to them dutifully and elegantly, making her creations seem effortless.

What she doesn’t see is how the audience responds to each note. The last notes of each song rang off of her fingertips as she drew the last beat to a close and released it into the air. She guided the audience through dissonance, solos and full choir fortes to remind us how singing is representative of life.

My one beef with Lane is her preference for arrangements. I’m a country girl who likes her traditional hymns and the chords that come with them. Moses Hogan and Stephen Foster do a fantastic job without the bells and whistles. Lane knows how to wield her skill and bring music alive from the Nova Singers. She somehow spreads the energy and intent of each piece across the audience. Her back was to us for most of the show, but she held our rapt attention.

Lane approachs her work with such tenacity that even when hard times come around, I know she will keep singing. She is more than just a Nova personality; she is a master of sharing the gift of music. We did ask for an encore, didn’t we?

Laura Jorgenson

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