Singing in Spring: Local Choirs Welcome the Season
Oh! Spring! You make me want to sing. Yes, it is that time of year: Birds sing and dance and build nests, as the leaves unfurl around them. The air warms, sweet with flowers calling for the bees. Salmon stretch their sea legs over crisp streams. Rain falls, giving way to rainbows. All around us, the verdant ghosts of winter’s passing rise from their gentle tombs and fill the world’s coffers with wonder and possibility, hope—and humans, being the sort of caretakers we are, at our best, feel compelled to match nature’s show with a tune. It’s a soulful response, a celebration of joy.
Whatever your reason, our region is blessed with a number of wonderful choral offerings sure to quench your thirst for song. Rogue Valley Chorale, Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, Siskiyou Singers, and the Rogue Valley Peace Choir.
Rob Griswell-Lowry, director of the Rogue Valley Peace Choir, sat down with the Messenger to talk about the Spring concert season.
RVM: What do you think it is about Spring concerts that makes it such a strong tradition?
RG-L: The spring concert, for us, is the culmination of the whole year of learning and fine tuning. So for us, it’s the big be-all and end-all.
RVM: What songs can one expect to hear at your concerts?
RG-L: Our music is chosen by a committee of choir members each year and they search diligently for songs that are both fun to listen to and to perform and reflect our mission. We have one song from the African tradition, songs from gospel tradition, a song from a Sondheim musical, and we have songs from well-known and touring social justice musicians. We also have one song from Despicable Me called “Happy.” We’ve got one from Motown, “Yes We Can Can.” And we’re doing an Indian raja song “Mangalam” made famous by Ravi Shankar. And we’ll have a tabla player with that.
RVM: Your choir’s message is peace. How do you go about promoting that?
RG-L: Through the music. All the songs are picked for lyrics to promote peace and social justice. One of the songs we’re doing is about Harriet Tubman, a woman who made thirteen trips to the South and brought back slaves to promote freedom. For me, choral music, when it’s used to deliver a message like this, it gets in under the radar of regular speech. It gets in through a different, and maybe a deeper opening in our hearts, because of the music combined with the message; and for me, that’s what makes this choir so special.
RVM: What would you say to people who haven’t been to a Spring concert?
RG-L: Prepare to be moved.
A few upcoming events to try out your vocal chords, or just sits back and listen:
- Rogue Valley Peace Choir celebrates Earth Day at ScienceWorks Museum in Ashland, as part of the Rogue Valley Earth Day Celebration. Saturday, April 23. Free.
- Siskiyou Singers perform “Out of the Shadows: Shedding Light on Women Composers.” 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 7, 3 pm Sunday, May 8. SOU Recital Hall. $5-15.
- The Rogue Valley Chorale Association’s Youth Chorus singers sing welcome songs of Spring. Saturday, May 14. Medford High School Auditorium. $10 adults, $5 students, and $25 for families.
- The Rogue Valley Chorale Festival of Church Choirs concert; join artistic director Laurie Anne Hunter in her third year as director of the Chorale. 3 pm & 7 pm, Sunday, May 15. Collier Center for the Performing Arts on the Craterian Stage, Medford.
- The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers will perform Haydn’s “Creation” with members of the Rogue Valley Symphony in the orchestra. Help soloists Elissa Johnston, Brian Thorsett, and Christopher Nomura, celebrate their 30th year anniversary with the epic swell of Haydn’s masterwork. 7:30 pm, Saturday, May 21, 3 pm Sunday, May 22. Details at RepSingers.org. $32-38.
- Rogue Valley Peace Choir will hold their Spring Concerts in Medford and Ashland. Friday, May 20 & Sunday, May 22. Details at RogueValleyPeaceChoir.org. Free.