What Makes the Swift Current Oratorio Choir SuccessfulBy: Jennifer Shygera
As we near the one-year mark of life without choir, I find myself reflecting on the reasons behind the success of our small-city community choir. What makes me confident that when we can again gather and sing, our longstanding choral organization will continue to function? In no particular order, here are my top ten conclusions.
- Consistency - We know what to expect. There will be 2-hour rehearsals that will be efficiently run; there will be two performances, in December and April; the fall session will focus on a variety of songs and the spring session will focus on one or two longer works.
- Conductor - We are fortunate to have a conductor who knows how to get the best sound out of a group of trained and nontrained singers, who knows how to run a rehearsal that is challenging but not daunting, and who is encouraging rather than critical. Marcia McLean brings a lifetime of musical knowledge, experience and talent to our choral group and has earned our confidence.
- Accompanist - Amy Wiens is always prepared and plays so musically and accurately that we are often compelled to applaud. She has a keen ear and frequently helps out the parts that are struggling, probably more often than we know.
- Choristers - Some have been members for decades, others come and go, but the love of singing together is consistent. There is a commitment to the making of beautiful music.
- Audience - Swift Current and area boasts a population that supports and appreciates, like no other, the musical arts. It is humbling and gratifying to perform for audiences that keep coming out to enjoy music with us.
- Variety - Our repertoire includes everything from classical to contemporary, English to Latin text, folk to jazz. It’s like our weather, if a particular song is not your favourite, just wait - the next one will capture your heart.
- Achievement - First of all, the music is generally achievable. It’s challenging, and we often think there is no way we will be ready, but it always comes together on performance day. For some of us, we are stretched to learn new languages, different harmonies and rhythms, to listen for blending, but the sense of achievement is so worth it.
- Community - We gather from Swift Current, Maple Creek, Eastend, Shaunavon, Hazenmore, and other areas, to join in song. New friends are made and we look forward to reuniting every September. “And when you get together with a group of singers, it becomes more than the sum of the parts. All of these people are pouring out their hearts and souls in perfect harmony, which is kind of an emblem for what we need in this world . . .” -John Rutter.
- Opportunities - Every rehearsal is an opportunity to learn and to grow; every performance is an opportunity to take joy in the finished production. There are also opportunities to be part of a performance enhanced by guest soloists or members of the Regina symphony. And there have been once-in-a-lifetime occasions like singing in Carnegie Hall with choirs from around the world. We are so fortunate to have these experiences while living in rural Saskatchewan.
- Music - Universal and eternal, music will always have the power to move us, to motivate us, and to feed our souls.