Stories in Music

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conducive-to-happiness[5]Every spring and fall the Yampa Valley Choral Society holds a community concert at the United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This past weekend a group of 41 men and women and 10 young girls presented “I’ve Been Everywhere: It‘s the Journey That Counts.”

This year, the sound of young choral voices added to the concert. Ten young girls sang a few songs taken from film scores and musical theatre productions. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head (from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and two memorable selections from Annie – Tomorrow and It’s a Hard Knock Life (from Annie) were  included.

As usual, the arrangement of musical compositions sung by the forty-one adults were thoughtfully chosen and diverse. Spirituals included Set Me as A Seal which was paraphrased from the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament and How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place by Johannes Brahms. Words from Psalm 84 of the King James Bible were incorporated in the verses of this composition.

Karl Jenkins composition Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary was not familiar to me, however it was sweet sounding and harmonious.  Jenkins, is a Welsh composer whose album is unintended for words, rather the voices of the chorus made instrument-like noises.

Two songs had nautical backstories to them. Over the Sea to Skye tells of Charles Stuarts escape from Scotland in 1745 via ship, along with Flora MacDonald, who traveled incognito, posing as his maid. His exile took him to France where he spent the rest of his lifetime.

Dry Your Tears, Afrika,  one of my favorite tunes of the afternoon, was taken from the 1997 movie Armistad. The story is about 53 Africans who were transported by ship from Sierra Leone to be sold as slaves. They changed their destiny when they took hold of the ship and navigated it to Long Island. The events of their journey became the subject of a Supreme Court case. If you have not seen the movie, it’s powerful.

You haven’t been anywhere unless you’ve traveled across America. Songs from past Pop Hit Charts included Homeward Bound, Surfin’ USA, I’ve Been Everywhere, and I’ll Fly Away were incorporated into the concert, as well as America from West Side Story.

I never fail to learn something from the interesting backstories of the compositions that the Yampa Valley Choral Society choses to focus the themes of their concerts around. The program notes as well as the choir Director’s commentary help tell the story of each song’s rich history and their composers.

Thank you Yampa Valley Choral Society for yet another delightful hour of music. Look forward to your fall concert.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

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