A Pretty Cool Experience

Well, the second week of my vacation is coming to a close and I have only two days before making the trek back to the office.  In that 48 ish hours I have to finish building the deck in the front of my house with my son and various other self imposed or “honey do” chore’s, we shall see if they get done.

On building the deck with my son – it is a fun endeavour and we are both learning things about ourselves and how to build a deck – nothing extravagant – i.e. the deck – just in the front entrance to our house – nothing grows under that site now anyway and it will be a little cooler in the three seasons that are not winter.

On having spent my week up at Emma Lake with my wife two sons, in laws et al – it was great the weather was perfect – if a little too hot??  Can there ever be a thing like that in Western Canada?  My wife had her batteries recharged at one of her favourite places in the world – so for me it was all worth it.

On coming back to St Albert and spending four evenings with 160 other choral minded people to learn some music and then participate in a concert – great.

The event “Singspiration” an annual event at Concordia University College here in Edmonton.  It is a summer choral camp for 60 youth and teen singers, involving a residential portion, as well as a chance for adult choral singers to have a great experience with no pressure.  It is non auditioned so professionals to shower only singers can come and enjoy themselves making a joyful noise with others.

I will now limit my comments to the Adult Choir – this year there were 160 of us.  Last year there were around 70 ish?  This year we had Michael Zaugg and the organizers invited community choirs to assist in group registrations – I think it was the combination of these two things that bumped the numbers.

Over the course of the 9 hours we had in rehearsal Michael put us to work learning the following (concert order):

  • Harmonia Mundi – text by Seah Deibler – from memory, twice;
  • Libera Me from Gabriel Faure’s Requiem;
  • Psaume 150 by Cesar Franck;
  • Gloria in excelsis from Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in D;
  • Vene Sacte Spiritus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and
  • Down in the River to Pray arranged by Mark Liversidge.

For the concert we had a number of additional guest soloists – Nola Shantz, Jordan Van Biert, Kim Denis, Mireille Rijavec, and an excellent accompanist Kim Cousineau.

For those of us in the choir we also had a chance to do some solo work for the Mozart piece, Irene Buttrey – soprano, Elizabeth Scholtz – alto, Robin Walker – Tenor and yours truly – Bass.

At the start of the week you look over the crowd sitting in the room, look at the music and go – cool.  Then we all stand up and start to warm up with Michael and it hits you; this isn’t just a lark or clearing the cobwebs out of the choral part of your mind after the summer break, no this is one of those things you just love to do – the whole experience, the nerves of looking at music you may never have seen before.  The subtle way that you start blending your voice with others around you – the way you have to refocus your ears to hear those sharps and flats that you should be singing rather than the way your brain expects the tune to go…

Michael – ever the patient conductor took this group of 160 of varying levels of preparation, skill and ability and created a choir by Friday at 7 pm, with only 9 hours of rehearsal – a wonderful accomplishment and a great feat!  It was truly a joy to take part in and, again, the event lived up to its name – Singspiration!!

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