Masterworks Children’s Choruses to perform ‘Voices of Spring’

Masterworks Childen’s Choruses will present a “Voices of Spring: Water Music” concert on Sunday, with a bonus presentation of the comic opera “H.M.S. Pinnafore.”

The concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Belleville.

“‘Voices of Spring’ will include music that emphasizes harmony and part singing,” said Dr. Stephen Mager, the director. “It will be a nice variety of classical pieces, joyful spirituals and a suprise encore. I really believe that out Children’s Chorus and Youth Choraleare the premier group in the metro-east and right near the top in St. Louis.”

About 20 children and youth make up the cast of “H.M.S. Pinnafore,” also known as “The Lass that Loved a Sailor,” written by Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert. The first attempt to perform “H.M.S. Pinnafore” on Feb. 28 was canceled because of snow.

“It’s similar to ‘Pirates of Penzance,’ which was also written by Gilbert and Sullivan,” said Angi Klohr, a Masterworks board member whose 13-year-old son, Harrison, plays Sir Joseph.

“It’s really cute. It’s a much-shortened (30-minute) version of the original. The kids have had a lot of fun doing this, as opposed to what they do normally, standing on risers and singing. They get to move around, and they have props and costumes.”

“H.M.S. Pinnafore” opened at Opera Comique in London in 1878 and ran for 571 performances. The story takes place on a British ship. Capt. Corcoran expects his daughter, Josephine, to marry Sir Joseph, first lord of the admiralty, but she falls in love with Ralph, a lower-class sailor.

“It’s a rather satirical look at English society during the Victorian era, especially the British navy,” Mager said. “It’s a little bit about class distinctions. It kind of pokes fun at the way people rise to the top of their professions, even when they’re not really competent. It’s very tuneful. The kids love it.”

Mager is bringing back former chorus member Rayna Campbell, 15, of Belleville, to play Little Buttercup, a Portsmouth bumboat woman. She’s a soprano who studies with Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

This is the first time Harrison, a seventh-grader at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Fairview Heights, has performed in a stage play.

“It’s fun, but it’s nerve-wracking,” he said. “The hardest part is learning the lines and memorizing them.”

Harrison’s mother decided to hand-sew his costume rather than rent one or try to piece something together.

She has lots of experience with Halloween costumes and clothing for her husband, Phil, who re-enacts a French militiaman during the French and Indian War.

Harrison’s costume for “H.M.S. Pinnafore” includes a coat and tails, knee-length breeches and a large, bi-cornered hat.

“Because Sir Joseph is a vice admiral, he has a pretty fancy (uniform),” said Angi, 46, an office employee for an auction service. “There’s a lot of gold trim and buttons. His rank doesn’t really require him to do much except pomp and circumstance.”