Monday, April 28, 2014

Prayer of the Children

Itasca Community Chorus presents Prayer of the Children in collaboration with the Deer River Middle School Honor Choir, Sunday, May 18th at 4:00 p.m. at the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids.

Sam Evans, artistic director, says simply, "This is a tribute to all our veterans and their families.  We are so thankful for what you've done and so sorry you had to do it."

Sam has been interviewing local veterans who have served from WWII to the present.  Taped by ICTV, cuts from these interviews will be interspersed between choral numbers.  Modeled after The Band of Brothers, this tribute came to be when Sam realized, upon the death of his wife's grandfather, a WWII vet, how much of the real story we are losing and how fast it disappears.  Questions for the veterans were prompted by the National Veterans' Project.

In December Sam presented the concert plan to the Itasca Choral Society Board and the Grand Rapids' City Council, before submitting a grant proposal for an IRRRB Arts and Culture Grant.  In collaboration with the Itasca Historical Society and ICTV, Itasca Choral Society Board members have worked toward a concert of unsurpassed artistic excellence.

A fine tension between the yearning for peace and the horror of war is maintained throughout the concert.  Most graphic is the Irish folk piece "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" where Johnny's illusions of glory are contrasted with the his wife's acceptance of the legless husband who returns.  An unpublished arrangement of Walter Kittredge's "Tenting on the Old Campground" concludes "Many are the hearts looking for the right to see the dawn of peace [lie] dying on the old campground."

But there's hope too as choir sings of lux aeterna (L. eternal light) "In Remembrance," pleads for mercy on my soul in "Kyrie," and attests " and singing have been my refuge [as I] sing, be, live see, PEACE"  in "Earth Song."  "Homeland," "Inscription of Hope,"  and "Give Us Hope" commit to working for a world where the "Prayer of the Children,  "help me to feel the sun again upon my face for when darkness clears, I know you're near bringing peace again" is realized. 

The Itasca Community Chorus has doubled its rehearsal schedule and the Men's Chorus has been meeting overtime to polish "The Soldiers' Chorus" from Faust.  Accompanying various numbers and intensifying the rich sound of the chorus are expert musicians Stuart Boehr, accompanist; Deena Skaja, horn; Loren Squires, soprano sax; and Maria Annoni, guitar.

Thanks to grant monies from Lake Country Power's Operation RoundUp and IRRRB, student and veteran tickets are free with ID and adult tickets are only $8.  Tickets are available from choir members or at the door. This a community event and one of those very rare opportunities to really thank those who have given us so much to secure the freedoms we all enjoy.  

Come early to browse the 80 sq. ft. of historical display by the Itasca Historical Society, stay late to enjoy the reception and visit with veterans and musicians, but most of all just come and enjoy this amazingly rich tribute to all our veterans and their families--Prayer of the Children, Sunday, May 18th at 4:00 p.m. at the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids.

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