With school starting again, perhaps this is a good time for all of us to set new goals and priorities. A good place to start would be to actively support the area’s arts.
Case in point: Both the Jacksonville State University/Community Orchestra and the Oxford Community Chorus need new members. Both meet on Tuesday nights. Both are learning new music for the season’s concerts, as the musicians give voice to works by famous composers.
JSU/Community Orchestra tackles exciting music
Darryl Harris, director of the JSU/Community Orchestra, will welcome his musicians to the season’s first practice on Tuesday at JSU’s Mason Hall. Harris has some exciting plans in mind for the new season. Considerations include scores by Mendelssohn, Ravel, Dvorak, Liszt and Tchaikovsky, among other masters.
Mozart’s “Concerto for Two Pianos” is on the program, with Wendy Freeland, of the JSU music department, and Melody Ng, who teaches at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Compositions by French composer Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) and Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) are also being considered.
Milhaud wrote in a wide variety of styles, including scores for the ballets “Bull on the Roof” and “The Creation of the World,” written during the 1920s jazz age.
The orchestra will play Milhaud’s “Scarmouche” for saxophone and orchestra.
Composer Sibelius lived in a time in which there was new enthusiasm for folk songs, legends and dances that contributed to the nationalist spirit of Scandinavian and European countries. This season, the orchestra will play “Finlandia,” the theme of which was used for the Protestant hymn “Be Still, My Soul.”
The orchestra meets on Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. Needed are musicians who play oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, violin, viola, cello and string bass.
Harris makes the rehearsals fun with his contagious enthusiasm for the music. “Last year was an absolute blast!” he declared. “This year should be the same, if not exceeding the past season.”
The tentative concert dates for 2017 are Oct. 17 and Nov. 28, both at 7:30 p.m. at Anniston’s First United Methodist Church. Harris may be contacted at 206-226-8653.
Oxford Community Chorus welcomes singers
Singers in the Oxford Community Chorus will explore both new and familiar standards this season. Choral works such as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” are planned, plus spirituals, traditional Christmas songs and some first-time Yule titles.
The chorus meets each Tuesday from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Oxford Performing Arts Center. Susan McCall is director. The accompanist is Susan Lee.
“We discuss the pieces and their origins, we do vocal exercises and experiment with new harmonies,” McCall said. “We are learning while truly enjoying one another’s company.”
McCall may be contacted at 256-239-4598.
Hotel Finial has a busy social calendar
Standing in the parlor of the Hotel Finial, I can imagine the late Robbie Kirby playing her organ for a group of children who seemed entranced with the music and features in the mansion, the Kirbys’ elegant residence at 1600 Quintard Ave.
Standing in the hotel’s dining room, I imagine the couple greeting guests as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Frank and Robbie Kirby, who owned the house from 1950 to 1983 (before it became the Victoria Inn in 1984), contributed much to the business development and culture of Anniston during those years. But they could not have imagined the role their home, atop the highest point on Quintard Avenue, would today play in Anniston’s social and cultural activities.
The City of Anniston deeded the house over to Del and Ginger Marsh in 2015, with the stipulation that the couple renovate the historic building. The renovation work started right away.
Since its opening, the Hotel Finial has been a drawing card for numerous themed functions and lodging for several notable guests.
Ginger Marsh, sales and event manager, with the help of decorator Patsy McKinney, has become a multi-purpose hostess.
Graduation dinners, baby showers, a Disney-themed wedding, business lunches, cookouts, retirement parties, surprise parties, and cocktail gatherings will go down in the hotel’s social register. The hotel has also been the scene of a family reunion, a dinner for golfers and weekend retreats for church groups. The “boutique hotel,” as Ginger describes it, is a haven of history. The Victorian-style house was built in 1888 by John Martin McKleroy, who was hired by the Woodstock Iron Company to head up the Anniston City Land Company. Each of the subsequent owners were also leaders in the new industrial town, according to “The Model City of the New South: Anniston, Alabama” by Grace H. Gates.
“Our guests are fascinated with the house,” Ginger said. “They love the blend of history, with the Victorian-era windows and detailed woodwork and modern décor.”
The guest list over the past year includes people from diverse backgrounds: Knox Concerts’ artists Peter Cetera and Patti LaBelle, retired American racecar driver Rusty Wallace, NASA astronaut Jan Davis, the Virginia Majors baseball team, and firefighters’ groups from throughout Alabama.
The Hotel Finial (named for the ornament atop the hotel’s spire) is an architectural gem that has been re-polished and is now shining brightly, welcoming its admirers.
Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.