When the AACC performed at the Aylmer Chartwell Long term residence on May 4th, 2015 the staff was surprised to see us. Once the situation was explained they were very accommodating and soon had many of the residents gathered in the OT room. We sang the songs that we had practiced for the last few months. When we finished, everyone politely clapped and as we began to pick up our things and make room for the band, a woman exclaimed, “That was nice!”. Immediately many of the people from the choir said, “Thank you”. This happy and spontaneous gesture and exchange was different from the hand clapping that our singing is usually met with. A small expression, yes, but a moment in which the singing was not about a performance but about a happy response like greeting the sunrise. It gave us a sense that we had met her and maybe other’s approval.
At our semi-annual Spring concert musicians, music lovers and Disney fans came out of the woodwork. The choir that was singing alongside us had to cancel due to sickness but many people came to hear us and the band. Not only did Dave Dykeman attend and connect with many but also many people who have an interest in music attended. Along with soloists such as Stephanie, a onetime choir member, who sang a selection from Beauty and the Beast with Evan on the piano, we sang three Disney songs for them. It’s not the first time the choir performed Disney music, in fact in 2008, we performed two of three songs that became staples in 2015. At our spring concert at the Old Town Hall Catherine our MC when closing the performance said, “Thanks for being here, otherwise it would just be another practice.” The audience laughed and it gave us something to chew on, as well as saying something about our practices. Many appreciating being there enough afterwards to talk with choir and band members.
As always, it’s the audience that helps us finish the season in style. Whether it’s because some of the choir and band dress up or it’s because with Sarah Twinning’s constant and optimistic approach, we put extra effort in a fewer number of songs. People continue to appreciate the work we put into our songs. As Jan the St. Thomas music teacher and Adjudicator told me ‘Practice makes perfect”. The satisfaction that those who gain from hearing our music is appreciated by us. Our effort is gaining satisfaction and support from our hearers.
The 2014 to 2015 season for the Aylmer area Community Choir has been a challenging year. Our long-time choir director Dave Dykeman had to step down because of health reasons and no one stepped forward to take the place as president for the choir executive. A new choir director Sarah Twinem spent time getting to know the choir members as well as putting the choir into shape to sing. Much of it has been getting to know each other and working through many expectations. We knew that it would be different at practices and performances but how different we didn’t know.
The practices are still on Mondays but have changed. The basses, the tenors, the altos and the sopranos, add musical ingredients which can heighten a piece or bring it and the hearer up or down. David had an excellent ear and when he heard the choir out of pitch he would stop the choir during practice and would give a resounding “nooo” when we were off track. His corrections would stop us in our tracks. I suppose he wanted us to hear what he had heard. Sarah stops us but it’s usually because we are on track but if not we go over the part that needs work. I think this saves time. To get us on track she often asks Evan to play the different parts on the piano. Then we practice the parts we are not getting. Sarah has amazing pitch and she is not afraid to sing the different parts for us. Blending is an important quality for a choir to have.
Pastry chefs need to blend too who wish to meet the standards of their highest critics. They inspect everything related to pastry production and Sarah was no different. So it only seemed appropriate that we sing the song “Be our Guest” from the Walt Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. The Rotary Festival on February 23, 2015 as always put us to the real test of how we were doing. It was important especially with the changes in our choir. A bit of a nail-bitter. This year as usual we had our performance graded by a professional adjudicator. Apparently, we were the only choir brave enough to put ourselves for the test. The adjudicator seemed to like this piece and gave us a mark of 92. Which as Sarah said , “…is an A plus”. Obviously, the work that she and we did together paid off. The choir this season has continued its usual itinerary at the Town hall for Christmas with the band and on our own at various retirement and nursing homes in Elgin County. We know better now than ever that we will continue to meet the expectations of our audiences.
-John E. Montgomery
with Soloist Barbara Thorson and Friends including
Aylmer Area Community Choir, Country and Bluegrass Fiddler/Violinist John P. Allen, Tenor soloist Jorge Avilés, Kayla Maria De Leebeeck, Pianist Hugo McLaughin, and Barbara Warnock.
Tickets are available from Campbell’s II, Prime Ingredient and Durkees for $20.
Proceeds go to the Environmental Leadership Program at East Elgin Secondary and the Corner Cupboard.
On November 29th following the lighting of the lights A CHRISTMAS CONCERT will take place at The Old Town Hall, Aylmer. Performed by the Aylmer Area Community Choir and the Aylmer Area Community Band. Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at the door. Tickets are available in advance from any member of the choir or the band. In 2013 we will be joined by Summer Corners Choir.
Aylmer Area Community Choir sponsors a Lessons and Carols Event for the Aylmer area on Sunday, December 1st, 2013 7:00 pm at Aylmer Christian Reformed Church. Bring the whole family. A Lessons and Carols Service is a Christmas celebration with an order of service composed of 9 scripture readings and 9 carols presented in succession. Many of the speakers will be well known to the community.
Lessons and Carols 2013 Poster
From the front of the choir: How to be a good choir member.
10 things that help you be a better choir member: punctuality, commitment, responsibility, self-awareness, trust, attentiveness, consideration for others, listening skills, sense of the whole, and sense of humour.