When was the last time you clapped along to a community choir concert? If you went to Saginaw Choral Society’s season finale Feel The Spirit, it was last Saturday. The choir performed John Rutter’s Feel The Spirit and Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, both featuring guest artist, Dr. LaToya Lain. The addition of this “power-house” soprano and piano, bass, and drums to the already electric energy of the choir was a moving collaboration that launched the audience performers into a good mood lasting for days!
When asked about concluding the 2018-2019 season, Executive Director, Tamara Grefe said, “When we were first planning the repertoire for our final concert, we knew we wanted to do both the Rutter spirituals and the Gospel Mass. We decided we could not program them without featuring a brilliant soprano soloist. Our wishes came true when Dr. Lain accepted our invitation! Two completely different styles of writing, a superb community chorus, a brilliant soloist, a fantastic pianist – I invite you to come Feel the Spirit with us!”
The last Saginaw Choral Society performance of the season! We definitely did “Feel the Spirit”! Had a wonderful time with an awesome group of people!! Made some new friends and had a great season. 🙂 Thanks Jeremiah Kraniak for being an awesome director and shaping us into better vocalists and performers. Appreciate your work!!
“Applauded for her “wonderfully rich,” “powerful,” and “captivating” voice, American singer LaToya Lain, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, studied voice at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, Florida State University, and the University of Nevada. She is also a graduate of Chautauqua Opera’s Young Artist Program.
LaToya’s most recent engagements include performances of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Hamburgische Oper, and the Köln Philharmonie. She recently presented solo recitals at the American Church in Paris, the Dutch Reform Church in Harare, Zimbabwe, and at the Reapertura de la Iglesia Santa Teresa in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She also presented recitals and master classes at Oberlin College & Conservatory of Music, the University of New Mexico, University of Delaware, Murray State University, and at SongFest in Los Angeles. She continues to sing opera, oratorio, and perform solo recitals throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Africa. In June 2017, she made her Carnegie Hall Debut as the soprano soloist in Ralph Vaughn William’s Dona nobis pacem, under the baton of MaestraNina Nash-Robertson. She has been a soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Verdi’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, and St. Matthew’s Passion.
Ms. Lain’s operatic roles include Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Suzuki in Madame Butterfly, Polinesso in Ariodante, La Principessa in Suor Angelica, Baba in The Medium, and Ježibaba in Rusalka. She recently made her role debut as Brünnhilde in Trilogy Opera’s 2018 production of Wagner’s Die Walküre under the baton of Maestro Julius P. Williams.
Dr. Lain currently serves on the voice faculty of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where she is the Chairperson of the Music Theatre Council. She also musically directs musical theatre productions at the Bay View Summer Music Festival in Bay View, Michigan.
Saginaw Choral Society’s premier men’s sextet, Ah Tempo!, presents a festive evening of music from Ireland and the British Isles on March 17 at 7:30 pm at the newly renovated Court Street Theater! Add some beer or wine and take your seat and you have the formula for an awesome St. Patrick’s Day away from the chaos! Songs include Fillimiooriay, Danny Boy, Lydia, the Tattooed Lady, and Mairi’s Wedding and many others you will recognize. Tickets are $20 for General Admission and can be purchased by calling the Temple Box Office 989-754-SHOW or visiting templetheatre.com Tickets are also available at the door on show night. Suggested parking is available behind the Theater, Zion Lutheran Church, Michigan Coney Island, and on the street.
SCS is delighted to be presenting Ah Tempo! for the reopening celebration of the Court Street Theater under new owners, Thomas and Stephanie Braley. We are so thrilled to be the first to be featured in this community gem, and we hope to see you back again for our Cabaret & Cabernet evening, April 14 at 7:30.
Who is Ah Tempo!?
Ah Tempo! lit up SCS’ Member Recital stage for the first time in 2009 with a fantastic acapella arrangement of This Little Light of Mine. Since then, together with their devoted pianist and director, they have been entertaining audiences at SCS concerts, community events, and private parties – all to benefit the SCS. Known for their intricate harmonies, engaging programming, and unstoppable wit, they are comfortable singing repertoire ranging from Irish tunes on the Court Street Theater stage to Christmas carol parodies at Chamber of Commerce functions.
Take Ah Tempo! Home
We’re also celebrating Ah Tempo!’s nine years of singing together with the release of their studio recorded CD, Out of the Blue, Ah Tempo! fans will recognize many of the selections on the CD, including their first-performed song, This Little Light of Mine, as well as the gorgeous Pure Imagination and Rat Pack hit, Come Fly with Me. Pop Out of the Blue into a cd player to listen to all eleven tunes anytime you want! Available for purchase for $15 at the sales table in the lobby!
When Music Director Jeremiah Kraniak programmed the Lord Nelson Mass it might have seemed like just another “Master Work” sung by just another community choir. But when he decided to make it a community sing (a concert where SCS members anchor the musical efforts while non-members of all ability levels are invited to join for the performance) it turned into something more. Community education you say? Not so much. Community building? Definitely.
Nonprofits like SCS and many other arts organizations are in a constant state of trying to analyze their impact on the community. We look at things like membership, audience, and education. We send surveys and calculate stats and do our best to understand where our passion can help lift those around us. But this past Saturday, when you took a second to look around, you saw the softer side of community bonds being built.
SCS members reached out to their own inner circles and made the most of an opportunity to sing with friends and family. Mothers and fathers sang with their sons and daughters (both teenagers and adults)! Cousins found a way to come together once a week for music and quality time together. College students (current and alumni) performed alongside their professors. And family came to see and acknowledge the genuine talent of their loved ones.
Below are just a few of the many photos that circulated social media as examples of just how much fun and care was taken with the SCS production. So where do you find your softer side of community building? Be sure you let those around you know what these moments mean to you!
The first classical music CD I remember listening to was a compilation of 50 of the “greatest classical masterpieces.” It was 2 CDs of classical works beginning with Mozart’s “Overture to the Marriage of Figaro.” I wore those CDs out. There was something thrilling about the subtle and sublime melodies juxtaposed against complex moving lines and unexpected, yet somehow familiar, harmonic progressions. And, over time, I realized these works were having conversations with me. They were telling about times of great joy and excitement. They were telling me stories of extreme sadness and longing. These works were comforting me during times of my life that were the most challenging. Each piece told a different story through a composer that was experiencing the joy and turmoil of life. And, they were beautiful. That was when I fell in love with classical music.
In our lives, music provides moments of beauty in a world that can lack empathy. We live our daily lives moving from one routine task to another, constantly searching for moments of respite. And when we find them, we hold onto those moments, like cherished treasures.
Being a veterinarian seemed like such a practical career choice. But it wasn’t the right choice for me. See, I am blessed to be a part of something bigger than a career choice. When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I create music. Inevitably they ask, “but really, what do you do?” That is a moment I live for. I get to tell them that I create beautiful experiences for people. I provide the moments in life that make the challenging tasks bearable. I show people beauty when the world is at it’s ugliest. And, I give a voice to the emotions that lie just beneath the surface when the world is silent.
When I program concerts, I reach deep into my memories of those 50 classical works, and I have conversations with people through music. Together, we have conversations with people that depict the best and the worst of humanity. These conversations are unforgettable because they are honest. That is what Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart gave us. These great composers gave us moments of beauty and honesty in a world that can be exhausting.
Today, I am not asking you to listen closely for complex moving lines, or beautifully executed melodic motives. I don’t expect you to listen for elements of word painting or clever structures that would later define the music of the Classical era. Although all of these things exist, I would prefer that you listen to the simple beauty and elegance of the music. Listen with the ears of a young child who is experiencing this music for the first time. And, when you have let go of the preconceived notions you hold about this “kind of music,” let it tell you a story. The true beauty of music is that it is always honest. My wish for you is that you experience an emotional response from these works. And, I hope you leave with moments of beauty that you can hold onto in life.