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!
As members of Higher Ground, we are often used to being in the role of “performer”. With busy lives of work, family, kids, grandkids — it is sometimes a rare occasion we get to sit back, listen, and be audience members as we do at Schmeckfest. And aside from hearing amazing music, what we also get to experience is the power music has to bring people together. Singers are a surprisingly tight knit community. When we are listening to our counterparts, we know how hard it is for that Soprano to sing her flutey descant, or how challenging it is create the perfect blend of voices. Being in that group atmosphere, appreciating and supporting each other, is probably one best benefits of being a singer. And I know that is why I have continued to stay with our group year after year.
Opportunities to sing outside of high school can be hard to find. I myself muddled through a few groups trying to find one that sung a variety of music, was non denominational, and had singers with some musical experience. In 2003, I heard through a teaching colleague that my previous high school choir director, Janet Warren, was conducting an SATB ensemble. Excited, but nervous, I placed the call, but unfortunately, although she said she’d love to have me, it turned out they didn’t have any room at the moment for new voices. A day later, an excited Janet called me at work to let me know “the boys can’t commit to the rehearsal schedule — we’re going with all ladies — you’re in!”. Little did I know, that one phone call would change my life so significantly.
I’ve been part of a community of singers for thirteen years. These women have celebrated my marriage, supported me through the challenges of new motherhood, and are there with an open ear when my work week hasn’t been too great. Their voices lift my spirits and give me confidence. I am one of them and they have become a part of me.
Gina’s favourite genre of music to sing is vocal jazz. When she is not singing in the shower, pretending to be the likes of Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan, she is a high school English teacher and a mom to two busy young boys!
Higher Ground was performing and listening at Schmeckfest on Monday April 4th, 2016. While Schmeckfest is a closed event to the public, you won’t have to wait long for our spring concert on Tuesday May 10th, 2016 at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver. Tickets go on sale April 10th through highergroundchoir.eventbrite.com.