“What a Swell Party!”
With that title, it certainly sounds like a swell time is waiting at this weekend’s performance of Kauai Voices.
And Director Randy Leonard promises it will be exactly that as the group pays tribute to “The Fabulous Music of Cole Porter.”
“It’s a party night,” Leonard said. “It’s just lots of fun.”
In this, the 11th season of Kauai Voices, three shows will features solos, duets, quartets and of course, the entire 40-members showcasing their talents with strong harmonies.
Their inspiration will be Cole Porter, an American composer and songwriter who became famous starting in the 1920s with his music and lyrics that led to Broadway musicals and film scores.
Some of his best works include “Well, Did You Evah!” (the words “What a Swell Party this is,” are in this song), “I Get a Kick out of You,” and “Night and Day.”
It was his lifestyle that stood out.
“Cole Porter was a guy who loved high society, he loved entertaining people. He was very extravagant. Party times were like the highlight and inspired a lot of his music,” Leonard said.
Porter’s family was wealthy, as was his wife’s, so they had money cover parties in places like Paris. Their parties in Venice were legendary for extravagance. They also inspired his music.
“He would watch the social interactions of people and get lot of his material from watching them,” Leonard said. “From all the gossip and dramas, he drew his lyrics.”
Kauai Voices plans to bring the songs of Porter to life.
Trishana Star, Kauai Voices member, said the audience will be treated to “the essence of Cole Porter.”
“It goes deep. There’s a lot of history in his songs, which is just fascinating to me,” she said.
Kauai Voices began rehearsals 16 weeks ago. The audition-only chorus has some new voices this season, along with some veterans.
“It’s a solid core,” Leonard said.
One need not be a musician to try out. Leonard looks for intent, drive and commitment from members, who are required to memorize the entire program of 27 songs.
“They always rise up to it. It’s quite amazing,” Leonard said.
The vocalists will be joined by instrumentalists, including Monica Chung on keyboard.
Leonard has been director since Kauai Voices’ first show in 2011. It has two seasons each year.
His start in music can be traced back to when he was 4 years old and watching music and dance shows in front of the family’s black and white TV at their Vermont home.
He began formal training on piano when he was 6 years old and soon learned the accordion, trumpet and French horn. He studied music and performance in college and landed his first conducting job with a church when he was 19 years old. He has been conducting since 1978.
“Music is my soul, is my breath. I cannot imagine life without music. Quite frankly, all the rest of the world goes away when I’m involved with my music,” he said. “It’s always in my head, I’m always planning out new shows and how to provide the best stage and venue for all these wonderful singers, how to bring out the best in them. How to take the audience away for an evening.
“That’s what motivates me,” Leonard continued. “Creating wonderful music, great high quality music and incredible experience.”
Kauai Voices will perform “The Fabulous Music of Cole Porter” in three shows this weekend.
Concerts are scheduled 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
Seats have been added for this weekend’s shows.
For tickets go to kauaivoices.org or call 1-800-838-3006.