HEIDI ZEMACH For SCN -
There’s nothing quite as delightful a sound as voices blending together in harmony, and singers enjoying creating beautiful music together. Seward’s Community Choir’s fifty-plus members have been hard at work since September learning the music for the annual Christmas Concert, which takes place Thursday, December 12th, at 7 p.m. in the Ray Building (UAF Marine Science Center).
Many of the four-part choral arrangements, drawn from the Seward High School stockpile, date back to before many of the singers were even born, but the music is brought back to life whenever performed, and are enjoyed anew by each new audience.
Musical director and accompanist Sue McClure has selected a variety of music including an upbeat choral rendition of “We Need A Little Christmas,” from the musical “Mame,” by Jerry Herman; and an arrangement of everyone’s favorite; “Feliz Navidad,” with words and music by Jose Feliciano.
The choir will also sing some Christmas arrangements of older songs, that folks may or may not recognize including the 17th Century Christmas hymn, “While by my Sheep,” an acapella (without accompaniement) arrangement with a four-person echo choir; the traditional English “Wassail Song,” also sung acappella, and arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw; a French carol, “Masters In This Hall”; and the more well-known traditional carol, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
There will be a few additional surprise songs, a duet, “Carol of the Bells,” and the rousing “Hallelujah Chorus,” from George Frederick Handel’s opus, “Messiah.”
The choir has grown steadily in its six year lifespan, and now includes approximatley 35 people from all ages and abilities; a handful middle-school and high-school age singers, to folks well into their 60s. Some singers have little musical background and are just beginning to learn to read music, while others have had considerably more musical experience and training, and there’s everyone in between. There are no auditions, and no one who cares to put in the effort at rehearsals is turned away.
The choir now has a larger bass section than ever, while maintaining a decent-sized tenor section featuring both male and female lower voices, a burgeoning alto section, and a steady group of dedicated sopranos. Several choristers drive from Moose Pass and beyond, often braving icy road conditions and snow to faithfully attend.
McClure accompanies and directs the choir from the piano. She encourages questions, and patiently repeats the individual parts for those who haven’t quite learned them yet.
“As I see it the purpose of the community choir is to bring people together of any particular age or ability level to learn music and sing together, and enjoy the camaraderie of making good sounds with large groups of people singing,” she said.
The group welcomes new members. Rehearsals for the spring concert will resume around the third week of January. The choir rehearses at the Methodist Church on Third Avenue in downtown Seward, Practises are Thursdays from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
The December 12th performance is free, and goodies will be served afterward.