There were some very memorable moments during tonight’s choral concert at Carthage, which featured not only the Carthage Choir – but also the top choirs from Kenosha’s three public high schools: Indian Trails, Bradford, and Tremper. (It’s amazing and more than a little embarrassing that our music department all but ignored the amazing choral programs in Kenosha’s high schools for years on end, but Eduardo Garcia-Novelli is certainly making up for lost time…having already fostered a closer relationship with our local high schools than has probably existed in over a decade. Tonight’s invitational joint concert was part of that concerted effort. ) Anyway, each of the high school choirs sang two pieces- and then watched the Carthage Choir as it sang the program which it will perform at the upcoming state music teachers convention in Madison.
*The concert began with the top choir from Indian Trails, under the direction of John Choi. Their second piece was a gorgeous composition titled “Requiem” which was composed in honor of those who perished in the terrible Tsunami of a several years ago – and which has also been sung on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As they sung this exquisite piece, haunting photographic images from Katrina were projected on a screen to the right of the choir- and although I tend not to be a fan of multi-media extravaganzas, it actually worked beautifully.
* The Bradford top choir was undermanned tonight (their director, Brad Mann, announced at one point that he was missing a third of his singers) but they still did some very expressive singing – first in Rachmaninoff’s “Ave Maria” and then Rene Clausen’s “All that hath life and breath,” which the Carthage Choir sang during the year that Weston Noble was here. This was a case of a choir doing the best they could under less than ideal circumstances, and there’s something very stirring about that.
* The Tremper top choir is directed by my sister-in-law, Polly Amborn, and she certainly had them well prepared in two pieces: “There shall a star come out of Jacob” by Felix Mendelssohn and “Great and Glorious Light” by a local composer named Greg Berg. They sang both pieces absolutely wonderfully – even though they was missing three basses who were busy playing in a J.V. football game. But somehow that didn’t matter a lot and they sang superbly. And this early in the school year, it was quite an impressive feat.
* But for as impressive as their singing was, what impressed me more was the class with which they carried themselves tonight. Polly has always insisted on that from her singers – and she gets it. . . exceptional maturity – profound appreciativeness – and sincere interest in others. And tonight, as the other choirs were performing, I couldn’t help but notice how attentively and respectfully Polly’s students were listening. The above photo shows you what I mean. They sat there transfixed, as though they were hanging on every note their peers were singing. (And for the record, I think the members of the other choirs were similarly attentive- but it was easy for me to pay especially close attention to Tremper.) And eventually, when I was up front playing piano for the Carthage Choir, i could look across the room and see the whole Tremper choir, drinking in every moment of the Carthage Choir’s fine performance. And that’s when I really got a lump in my throat – thinking about how close we are to one another when she share music with one another. The walls come down, the doors sweep open, and life is good.