Although temperatures are bitter and there’s snow on the ground, Emo Centennial Choir director Renée Martin-Brown already is thinking about blooming flowers and sunshine.
The choir is gearing up for a spring concert to be held in early May, with rehearsals beginning Feb. 26 at the Christian Reformed Church in Emo.
“It’s the first we’ve done a spring concert as opposed to the Easter concert we’ve always done,” Martin-Brown explained.
“The reason for that is Easter falls so early this year—it’s about the first weekend in April,” she said. “We would have had to turn around right after Christmas to start preparing for Easter.”
She also noted it didn’t allow much time to order music or for choir members to take a break in between.
“We wanted to try something new and see what kind of a response we get to do a spring program,” Martin-Brown added, though stressing it still will have sacred music in it, such as “O Divine Redeemer” and “Make a Joyful Noise.”
“We were supposed to do ‘O Divine Redeemer’ last Easter and the music got lost in Canada Post and I had to find something else,” she remarked. “So I’m excited to do that.
“And we’re bringing back ‘Old Time Religion Medley’ that we did two years ago. It’s one of my favourites, so we’re doing it again.”
Martin-Brown said she’s selected a set of folk songs, which includes pieces like “Shenandoah” and “The Ash Grove,” as well as the “Olde Irish Blessing.”
And there also is a Canadian folk song called “The Love of the Sea.”
“It’s a Newfoundland folk song about the trials and tribulations of being on the sea,” Martin-Brown explained, noting additional secular songs also have been chosen for the performance.
Martin-Brown also intends to highlight some of the choir members with small ensemble numbers.
“The response for the ensembles at the Christmas concert was really good,” she stressed. “I heard lots of comments about how people enjoyed hearing the smaller ensembles sing, which is kind of neat because I’ve always been really opposed to segregating people.
“I’ve always thought we’re a choir and we work as a unit, but it does give some diversity to the program.”
In related news, the Emo Centennial Choir will perform two pieces in the annual Rainy River District Festival of the Performing Arts, the vocal portion of which runs April 9-11.
“We’ll be preparing for that, which we’ve done for years past,” Martin-Brown noted. “It’s just nice for them to sing in Fort Frances because it’s the only opportunity the choir takes to sing in Fort Frances.
“For us now, it’s a mid-point goal,” she added. “Before it was always right around Easter, so this time we’ll make sure to have two songs ready to go.”
Martin-Brown also stressed new choir members are always welcome, both men and women.
“Our men’s section can always use a few more male voices,” she noted. “And you don’t have to have any prior music knowledge. If you’ve always just wanted to sing and want to come out, then you’re welcome to.
“We have all different levels of ability in the choir, from people who don’t read any music to people who play for their own churches or lead their own choirs.
“It’s a diverse group and there’s something for everyone,” she added.
Rehearsals will be held each Monday (beginning Feb. 26) at 7 p.m.
Registration will take place before the first practice, so members are asked to arrive 15 minutes early that evening. A membership fee of $25 will be required to join.
Anyone with questions can call Martin-Brown at 482-3055.