St. Ignatius Church, Hickory, MD
A beautiful venue always adds to the experience when art of any kind is on display. St. Ignatius Church in Hickory, MD did not disappoint. It was where The Deer Creek Chorale, a multi-generational choral group exhibited their vocal talents late last Sunday afternoon. The singers, comprised of more than eighty members, from Baltimore and Harford County as well as a few voices from southern Pennsylvania have entertained not only in Maryland but at The Forbidden City Concert Hall in Bejing and Carnegie Hall and other impressive venues.
The non-profit organization is under the direction of Martha Banghart and her artistic staff which includes Julie Culotta, who founded the Deer Creek Youth Group nearly seven years ago. Now, youngsters age fifteen and over can have their interests and talents in the musical arts nurtured through the multi-aged group. As the audience “walked the rainbow trail” with the youth singers, lyrics encouraged others to be colorful, be bold and powerful, but most of all BE YOU! The youngsters are not just walking the walk, they are talking the talk as they learn by doing and being involved with what strikes their passions, choral singing.
The music of the evening brought a broad spectrum of compositions, many of which had colors in their titles such as Bein’ Green and Orange Colored Sky, sung by the youth. Deep Purple and A Red, Red Rose, True Colors and The Blue Ridge were a only a few sung by the adults. There were a few lively songs, but never riotous, such as Build Me Up Buttercup and a Big Yellow Taxi, sung by The Lady’s Six +1.
Susan Zantop, who is also a member of Deer Creek Chorale and Cultural Events Coordinator for the Maryland Center for the Arts, did a fine job of narrating which brought context to the music and how it tied into the visual arts portion of the program. Two award-winning artists, Joan Hodous and Bill Rothenbach presented their two paintings for silent auction, a oil and acrylic on canvas, respectively. The painters also provided commentary on their vision of what they brought to the canvas. Joan Hodous’ landscape was of Blue Ridge Mountains in the background flowing down to a hilly pastoral scene in the foreground. The colors on the canvas were subdued autumn hues. On the contrary, Bill Rothenbach who is a painter of abstract impressionism, his painting looked like a clash of fireworks of red, white and blue, which was a foretelling of what was to come next in the program – a patriotic melody of tunes. I was particularly struck by the masterful selection of voices which at one point sounded like fifes playing in the background of a 4th of July parade.
My impressions of “The Musical Canvas” were many but they can be summed up in just a few more words, “the concert was a wonderful respite before the busy winter holiday season sets in.”
As if the evening was not enough, when I walked out into the blustery air, the bells of the church pealed out “Amazing Grace” and it was indeed, a beautiful ending to Sunday performance of a fabulous community chorus, The Deer Creek Chorale. Thank you to the Maryland State Arts Council and the Harford County Cultural Arts Board for making the evening possible through their generous grants.