I walked into Hamilton Senior Center and a smiling Ruth greeted me, directing me to the restrooms and to the room at the end of the hallway where Peace of Heart Choir was rehearsing. Rene noted that there was a ‘lovely sound quality to the room’ and, I would add, an infectiously excited, almost giddy, feeling among choir members. We were all looking forward to our first outreach in a few months and our second collaboration with the Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble. Abigail, the coordinator of the center loves to start promptly and so at 1:30 pm sharp, we made our way into the main room. We entered and found Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble in their places. We found our spots in our respective sections, having to squeeze in a bit to make room for all of us. I looked out into the nice-sized audience. Our program opened with a rousing Star Spangled Banner, a joint effort between Peace of Heart Choir and Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble.
The program continued with one of Peace of Heart Choir’s core songs, Siyahamba. There was a lady who was sitting in one of the front rows in the center who had been to an earlier Peace of Heart Choir outreach concert and so she sang along enthusiastically to Siyahamba, mouthing the words which was absolutely a joy to behold. Next was our traditional Maori ballad, Pokarekare Ana, with lovely introductory accompaniment by our choir director Rene on ukelele and fine musical accompaniment by Brian Muni and Dave Koch that lifted the song to another level.
We performed our solo efforts in pairs, so the next set was enjoyable versions of Masquerade Waltz from the Masquerade Suite and La Bella Cubana performed by the Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble.
We followed with a set of Peace of Heart Choir’s core songs, Peace Salaam Shalom and a soaring Give Us Hope, by Jim Papoulis, a traditional anthem of September Song and the September Concert Foundation. Give Us Hope really resonated with an appreciative audience. The song felt triumphant, buoyed by Dave and Brian’s uplifting musical accompaniment that really helped to escalate the feeling of anticipation and, ultimately, triumph.
We took our seats during the Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble’s sets and of their solo efforts, I particularly enjoyed A Call to Courage by William Ross from the 2006 motion picture” Ladder 49”. Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble’s Conductor Stephen Francis Vasta made a point of the fact that the Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble has exclusive rights to the piece. For me, the real treasure of the piece was, as I affectionately refer to him, “The Little Drummer Boy”, Frederick Chau, the adorable little boy who was the guest artist on percussion.
The two centerpieces of the Peace of Heart Choir/Classical Fusion Chamber Ensemble collaboration closed out the concert: Hope, with lovely vocals from Gwyn Griffin and Non Nobis Domine with fine vocal support from Gary Baker. Non Nobis Domine, with really lovely conduction from Rene, really showcased the collaboration of the two groups. And so we were ready for our encore. Rene posed the question to the group, “So what shall we do?” I and a few other choir members called out, Let There Be Peace on Earth. And so it ‘twas—a lovely way to end a lovely afternoon of music. We took our bows to a nice amount of applause and made our way outside into the hallway. As I walked towards the end of the hallway, a senior who had just seen our concert said, “Thanks for a great concert.” “It was our pleasure”, I responded. “What’s your name?” “Bob", he said. Then Bob said the most touching thing. “It made my day.” Well that was music to my ears. I smiled to myself and I thought 'that’s the magic of outreach and precisely why we do what we do.'
-Carrie, Peace of Heart Choir Singer
It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when our Sign-up Coordinator began emailing her summaries to the other members in order to entice newer members to sign-up to sing at community concerts held early in the season. It didn’t take long for Concert Write-ups to become greatly anticipated amongst our members, so we share them here in hopes that you’ll join us at a future concert