December 9, 2012

Kelowna Community Chorus

I went to another pre-Christmas event last night which was so much fun. It was a three-set evening kicked off by a 4-piece group called "The Early Music Band," then songs by beautiful young classical singer Stephanie Nakagawa, and finally a set by the Kelowna Community Chorus, which was the reason I'd come.

The highlight of the evening for me was The Early Music Band, because during their set I had a completely out-of-control fit of giggling such as I haven't had in a decade or more. Bless their hearts, I give them full credit for being up there, and you're not seeing me in any sort of band - I know how hard it is, but they did miss a few notes, and I'd invited Brenda so maybe I was a little tense wanting it to be good, so when the guitarist lost his music pages in the middle of a song and had to go scrambling around to gather them, I just completely lost it - quietly, but nevertheless completely. I was shaking and snuffling, and Brenda was hissing "Dianne, you can't do this" in my ear, being pretty close to the line herself and having had a similar experience with her friend Terry once in which they had to walk out in disgrace. I was madly trying to recite "I wandered lonely as a cloud" in my mind, but it kept slipping away as I'd start giggling again, and finally, finally, they finished their set and I was slowly able to pull myself back together.

Stephanie Nakagawa was truly amazing, smashing in a strapless black ruffled ballgown and a fabulous voice with great dramatic flair. Accompanied by the very accomplished Ursula Pidgeon, she sang some Mozart, Schumann and Puccini, but the highlights for me were "O Holy Night," "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, and the best of all, a comic piece called "Art Is Calling for Me" from a 1911 operetta called The Enchantress. It intrigues me no end all the fun and lovely art there is in the world that I've never even heard of. This young woman is working on her doctorate of music in voice, and one wonders where she might go with talent like this. Although I'm no expert, I had a sense that we could be seeing some history in the making.

I sang in the Kelowna Community Chorus years ago, and was considering it again, so thought I'd go hear what and how they're singing nowadays. It's a 100-member non-auditioned choir directed by Leroy Wiens and he has certainly done a beautiful job with this random assortment of community members who just want to sing. They sang melodic and fairly complicated versions of Christmas songs, with a particularly beautiful and meaningful adaptation of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," and a lively and lovely "Mr. Santa." Maybe I'd like to have heard a little more punch and volume, but with a choir of this size and with many untrained singers, getting a great, relaxed and mellow tone is quite an achievement and Leroy knows what he's doing.

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