Saturday, May 10, 2014

Veteran Tribute Concert--May 18th

The Prayer of the Children concert coming up Sunday, May 18th at the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, MN is one of the best examples of collaboration in the area.  Partially funded by an IRRRB Culture and Tourism grant, this quality choral presentation was inspired by Director Sam Evans’ realization that WWII veterans are leaving us without having told their stories, without having instilled in us the values they fought so valiantly to preserve. 

Included in the presentation are clips from interviews Sam did with local veterans—WWII to the present.  Taped and edited by ICTV, these will be beamed on the wings of the Reif. Eighty square feet of Itasca Historical Society display board, including the Naval plank and full dress uniforms greet you as you enter the Reif. The concert itself is10 quality choral numbers, two of which include the Deer River Middle School Honors choir. Following the concert, enjoy a light snack and visit with the interviewees and singers.
This is not a na├»ve performance.  It acknowledges the hardship of war from the start. “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye,” based on an Irish folk tune sets the heart thrumming with the sound of guns and drums while the female narrator works through the process of how she can accept and love Johnny, who abandoned her and the unborn child and now returns with no gentle look in his eye nor dance in his heart.  In fact, he has no  legs with which to run.

The title piece “Prayer of the Children” is best explained by its composer Kurt Bestor:

Every number is equally powerful in its own way.  Capitalizing on his superb training by Concordia’s reknown director Rene Clausen, Sam has tuned this chorus of high school vocalists to octogenerians to a fine resonance that works the heart and soul through all the nuances of hope and grief over what war does to us all.  The accompanists Stuart Boehr, Maria Annoni, Deena Skaja, and Loren Squires are equally well-trained and sensitive musicians who almost instinctively respond to the shaping of sound to support the choral lyrics and musical score. 

And best of all—this concert is a gratitude concert to and for community.  Adult tickets are only $8 at the door; student tickets are free (courtesy of a Lake Country RoundUp grant) and veterans tickets are free (courtesy of the the Itasca Community Choir’s fundraising).  

The excitement is building and nearly everyone I talk with about this concert has a story to share.  Please come and join this community event.

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