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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Michael's Musings

Sun Valley Song brings great moments in music

By Michael J Morris

For a week now, I have been inspired by a great choir, but this time it did not happen because I was celebrating Social Media Week or was listening to one of the world's famous choirs complete with the passion of great organists on Youtube.

Admittedly, as I type I am listening to the Three Tenors Christmas Concert recorded in Vienna in 1999, with the headphones kindly given me by my friend Joel Vinge.

The great choir that most recently inspired me  was right here in Cranbrook at Knox Presbyterian Church last Sunday where Sun Valley Song performed  "A Rutterly Wonderful Christmas Concert", conducted by Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt with accompanist Wendy Guimont.

I have attended Sun Valley Song concerts previously, but I really looked forward to this one for some reason -- and in the interests of full disclosure, some of my good friends are members of the choir. And so, cynical me, there I was, even sitting near the front, something I very seldom do, with my friends Sharon and Jim Roberts and members of their family .

From the very opening numbers, I knew we were in for a great afternoon of Christmas carols and songs, maybe it was the choreography where choir members lined each aisle before taking their their places at the front. This choir was there to bring us some great moments in music.

Each of the four parts of the program included Christmas songs and carols, including one of my favourites (Yme's too) 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime" by the Roman Catholic priest Father Jean Brebeuf. I first heard it sung in French at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Chapleau while attending Christmas Eve mass with my good Roman Catholic friends. I ran back and forth to St. John's Anglican Church only a block away!

Many of the arrangements were by John Rutter, the distinguished British composer, conductor, editor,and arranger mostly of choral music, a wonderful choice for the Sun Valley Song concert.

Each number was greeted with sustained applause by the capacity audience, but it was the encore that brought us to our feet, and a week later is still inspiring me and bringing back wonderful memories. Choirs and organs were  not part of  my upbringing: but part of my DNA. My grandfather George Hunt, who played organ in churches and, yes, piano in English pubs, played for family concerts Sunday after church. His daughter, Muriel, my mother, with her incredible soprano voice, was a soloist, choir director and director of musicals, including 'HMS Pinafore' by Gilbert and Sullivan.

The Sun Valley Song rendition of 'O Holy Night' arranged by Dr. Woensdregt was simply superb, likely the best I have heard, and was greeted with sustained applause by the very appreciative audience. In fact, after I got home, I listened to it sung by some of the world's great choirs, and I will go with the one I heard at this concert.

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than voices of a great choir and  for each choir and each song I hear, a story from my own personal experience arose, and I am  connected in a moment to my past, present and future. Also I am Irish on my father's side, and I have a photo of my parents beside my computer, and they are always smiling, but sometimes moreso when I am listening to great music. I know. I know, but just for a moment my parents were there at the Sun Valley Song concert as the choir sang 'O Holy Night'.
However, as I have noted on other occasions, In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I neither play nor sing well, but have directed concerts and musicals and studied drama at the University of Toronto.

Sun Valley Song members include: Sopranos -- Lynn Campbell, Jan Gordon Hooker, Janine Grieve, Anne Jones, Tracey Kasner, Elizabeth Ross, Linda Rothero, Betty Wardle; Tenor -- Ian Adams, Peter Davidson, Steve Knowles, Bill Lindell, Roger Mitchell, Leslie Molnar, Joel Vinge, Gretchen Whetham; Alto -- Ellen Bailey, Caroline Gottinger, Katherine Kuczerpa-Zorn, Cynthia Lindell, Judy McFarland, Heather Nish, Carolyn Shepherd, Lynne Zacharias; Bass -- Gordon Ambrose, Bill Bale, Jim Buhler, Dave Grieve, Michael Jones, Dean Nish, Peter Schalk.

Thank you so much for the  great moment! Every blessing for the holiday season and Christmas.

My email is mj.morris@liveca

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