We opened our 2023-2024 season with Words, an eclectic evening inspired by the power of language, on Thursday, October 5 in the Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Community Center. Our 100-voice volunteer chorus was conducted by artistic director Peter Steenblik with Hyunjoo Kim at the keyboard.

The concert borrowed its title from the opening song, a jazzy meditation on language by The Real Group’s Anders Edenroth, who points out that words are “the possession of the beggar and the king…the obsession of the genius and the fool” and that they ”will hold forever humanity spellbound.”

The rest of the program featured spellbinding words by such writers as William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Octavio Paz, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and e.e. cummings in settings by some of the most celebrated choral composers working today, including Emma Lou Diemer, Abbie Betinis, Eric Whitacre, Rosephayne Powell, Rollo Dilworth, and Dan Forrest.

Soprano April Boyett Kocher and tenor Zachary Taylor, one of Pensacola Opera’s Jan Miller Studio Artists, performed as soloists in the centerpiece of the concert, Joan Szymko’s “At Such a Dizzy Height,” a setting of romantic excerpts from letters and other writings of Bella and Marc Chagall. And our treble ensemble, conducted by Isabelle Peterson, sang Langston Hughes’ “I Dream a World” set by André J. Thomas.

Graphic: John Medzerian