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Southwest choir singers enjoy Carnegie Hall experience

Posted on February 3, 2014 by Shaunavon Standard

About 40 members of the Swift Current Oratorio Choir (SCOC) – including singers from Shaunavon and surrounding communities – enjoyed an experience of a lifetime recently at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The local singers were invited to participate in a mass choir performance on January 20th to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Welsh composer Karl Jenkins. The SCOC choir members were part of an international mass choir that performed Stabat Mater, a 13th-century poem that was set to new music by Jenkins in 2008. The assembled choir, which ultimately totaled 314 voices, included singers from Argentina, the Netherlands, Quebec and the United States, along with the contingent from Southwest Saskatchewan. “It was incredible,” said Mark Anderson of Shaunavon, one of the SCOC members to make the trek to New York. “It was a terrific learning experience working with a conductor of that calibre and a group that size. It’s kind of humbling actually. You realize that the individual isn’t that important. It’s all about the group effort.” Members of the SCOC spent weeks in rehearsal leading up to the New York concert. The musical piece featured singing in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic. The group had several practice sessions in New York with Jenkins and the other visiting singers. Participants were also treated to a gala banquet held in conjunction with the event. “It was a thrill from beginning to end – every aspect of it was terrific,” said Anderson. “It’s nothing you could ever imagine yourself doing, so it’s hard to prepare for. But your expectations are completely wide open then.” The full SCOC, which currently has 85 members, will perform Jenkins’ Stabat Mater in Swift Current on April 13 as part of its annual spring concert. The show will take place at the Bridgeway Community Church with members of the Regina Symphony Orchestra. The SCOC is familiar with the works of Jenkins. The choir has already performed two other of his works. Those making the trip to New York enjoyed several other memorable moments, including some site-seeing tours and several Broadway shows. The invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall – one of the world’s most renowned concert halls – came from the concert organizer Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY). The SCOC submitted recordings of the choir’s spring performances to the DCINY for the audition process. The SCOC has been invited to perform at the site again in the future, although organizers aren’t yet sure whether to accept the invitation. “It’s a tremendous amount of hard work,” admitted. Anderson. “But there are also some great things to learn from the experience, too.”


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