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