More than 20 years ago I began my choral conducting and composing education in university. My first assignment was putting together a mock choral program for an imaginary youth choir’s spring concert. I found the process challenging and fascinating and have had an interest in it ever since. Shortly thereafter I directed a church choir for two years and for the last three years have run a “glee club” program at our local school for about 15 kids a term. These experiences along with singing in great choirs like Higher Ground have given me some insight into how to put music together for a concert.
This week marked Higher Ground’s first rehearsal after the summer break. Returning after a few months away from choir, I felt a renewed appreciation for the fact that I get to spend my Tuesday evenings with this wonderful group of people. And as our accompanist Julian Pattison began to play the first few notes of our warm-up on the piano, I thought about the important role an accompanist plays in a choir and specifically the important role Julian plays in Higher Ground.
Schmeckfest. European festival where one eats plates of sausages, or German expletive someone makes when they fall down the stairs? While the sound of this word may conjure up many images, lucky for us, it means none of the above! “Schmeck”, according to event organizer Larry Nickel, is a term German Mennonites once used to describe beautiful singing or “taste”. So in effect, “Schmeckfest” is actually a concert where many choirs come together to experience or “taste” the sounds of other choirs. And what a community it is!