Lawrence Toppman

Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club soars and scores

The U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club joins the Charlotte Symphony for a Pops concert tonight.
The U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club joins the Charlotte Symphony for a Pops concert tonight. Charlotte Symphony

Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman likes to talk about a “big hog molly,” the overpowering player who dominates a game from his first steps on the field. The arts world has them, too, and the U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club joined their ranks Friday night at Knight Theater.

As they sang “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” from “South Pacific,” robustly accompanied by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the audience realized there’s nothing like a big, finely trained male chorus. (Aaron Smith gets the credit for training this one at Annapolis.)

They stomped through the sailors’ chorus from “The Flying Dutchman” and strode through the soldiers’ chorus from “Faust.” They sang with holy innocence during an “Ave Maria” by German composer Franz Biebl and unholy glee during a tribute to burglary from “The Pirates of Penzance.” Only once did they go astray, failing to observe dynamics in Verdi’s “Va, pensiero” and giving us no sense they were slaves mourning the loss of their homeland and temple.

Conductor Albert-George Schram, focused when on the podium and endearingly absent-minded when off of it, let the symphony shine alone during Charles Fernandez’ mournful “Soldier’s Farewell” – apt for a Veterans Day-style tribute concert – Bernstein’s dances from “On the Town” and a suite from Richard Rodgers’ stirring “Victory at Sea.” (Has any march since World War II topped “Guadalcanal March”?)

Yet the glee club was the reason to go. Its a cappella “Eternal Father Strong to Save” (known as “The Naval Hymn”) might’ve brought tears to the face of anyone who’d lost a loved one in battle – or anyone who hadn’t.

Toppman: 704-358-5232

Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club

8 p.m. Saturday, Knight Theater. $25.50-84.50. charlottesymphony.org.

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