Listen Up

Listen Up

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.

Some highlights:

  1. *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.

  2. * 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.

  3. * 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.

  4. * 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.