Oxford Community Chorus

Members of the Oxford Community Chorus rehearse for their May 7 spring concert.

Whatever our circumstances in life, may we find time to keep singing!

This advice comes from reliable sources: With regard to our spiritual lives, the Bible’s pages call us to worship with voices, harp and flute. Nearly 2,500 years ago, Plato and Aristotle emphasized that praise and thanksgiving provide a healing power. These can often be offered in song.

Choral and instrumental music are on the calendar for next month, reflecting a variety of quiet, powerful and joyous expressions of faith and patriotism, plus classical and contemporary repertoire.

The Oxford Community Chorus is readying for its next concert, while the Etowah Youth Orchestras’ auditions for the coming season are May 19 and May 22-24.

After attending the Oxford Community Chorus Spring concert May 7, deciding which melody lingers in your mind may be hard. “All of them” could be your answer. The concert, at 7 p.m. at the Oxford Performing Arts Center, features sacred, patriotic and Broadway fare.

The Jacksonville Civic Chorale members will join the OCC singers in this program.

The concert is free to the public, but donations to benefit the JSU music department in its tornado recovery efforts will be appreciated.

Here are a few of the evening’s songs:

“Glorious Everlasting” by M. Thomas Cousins, an anthem of praise.

“Glory and Honor” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, a reverent hymn.

“Bless This House,” arranged by Roy Ringwald.

“Adiemus,” a new song by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins. The Latin translates to “We Would Draw Near.” Featuring soloist Alanna Franks, Brianna Nolte on flute and Connor McCall on drums.

“Tutakwenda” (“We Will Go”) by Will Lopes, a celebratory piece in Swahili based on Romans 8:31. Featuring soloist Chelsea Haynes. with Caylen Stewart and Connor McCall on percussion.

“I Hear America Singing” by Andre J. Thomas, professor of music at Florida State University. Guest instrumentalists are Norm Dennis on bass and Tom McGarity on drums.

 The hymn by Rachmaninoff is notable. The Russian composer, conductor and concert pianist expressed deeply felt emotions with overpowering effect. Reviews at the time state, “It is nearly impossible to forget a Rachmaninoff tune.” A favorite of his orchestral works is “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini” for piano and orchestra.

Rachmaninoff was not your typical serious music student. He evaded studying and practicing whenever possible. In fact, one of his teachers at the Moscow Conservatory had to send a messenger to Rachmaninoff’s home with each day’s lessons, instructing the messenger to remain there until she had the student’s completed homework in hand.

At the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Rachmaninoff left the country and lived in European countries before settling in the United States. Once away from his homeland he was a lonely man, deeply depressed, but he recovered and continued to write piano concertos. The sunshine of California, his final residence, helped his poor state of health. Before his death he had become an American citizen.

Youth orchestra auditions in Gadsden

Auditions for all Etowah Youth Orchestras’ ensembles and programs will be held May 19 and May 22-24 at The Music Center at Temple Beth Israel, 761 Chestnut St. in Gadsden. Complete information and a registration form can be found on the EYO website, www.culturalarts.com/eyo.

An informational meeting concerning audition and membership requirements for all interested students and parents is scheduled for May 8 at The Music Center.

The EYO is one of the foremost youth orchestra programs in the United States, and is nationally recognized for the quality of its programs, according to director Mike Gagliardo.

Ensembles of the EYO have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln and Kennedy Centers for the Performing Arts, and on tour in England, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and throughout the United States.

General qualifications include at least two years of performing experience on a musical instrument. All students are placed in ensembles based on performance level, not on age or grade in school.

Currently, nine students from Calhoun County are enrolled in EYO after-school ensembles. They are:

Jacksonville High School: Ragan Stokesberry, Jacob Francis, Scott Leathrum, Erin Leathrum.

Ohatchee High School: Brayden Perunko, Jakob Williamson.

Oxford Middle School: John Herndon.

The Donoho School: Kent Yamamuro.

Alexandria Middle School: Madison Foster

Ohatchee is topic of Historical Society meeting

Those at the next meeting of the Calhoun County Historical Society will gain a glimpse into the history of Ohatchee. The speaker is Steve Baswell, mayor of Ohatchee.

Baswell is a third-generation citizen of Ohatchee, and has been mayor of the town in west Calhoun County for 9 ½ years.

Ohatchee’s history dates back to the late 1800s. The town was incorporated in 1956.

The meeting will be May 8 in the Ayers Room at the Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County. The public is invited for a hospitality mixer at 5 p.m., followed by the meeting at 5:20 p.m.

For additional information, call Judy Draper at 256-237-5657.


Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.