Saturday, November 17, 2007

The musical heritage continues

On Thursday evening we took Elijah over to Marietta to see and hear his cousin Matthew sing in the GMEA District XII Elementary Honor Chorus's fall concert. (GMEA stands for the Georgia Music Educators Association and District XII encompasses all of Cobb County and maybe Douglas and Paulding.) Noah stayed home; he didn't want to go.

The concert was held at Piedmont Baptist Church, I suppose because of the size of the chorus and the anticipated size of the audience. We stopped at Mickey D's on the way there because Elijah has recently discovered quarter-pounders. We ate in the car so we wouldn't be late. When we arrived at Piedmont, Elijah wanted to take what was left of his soft drink and the rest of his French fries into the building, but we said an emphatic "NO." When he asked why not we said because it was a church, not a stadium. Elijah is a weekly church attender and should know better, but in his defense, from the outside Piedmont looks a little like Philips Arena or a smaller version of the Georgia Dome, where Elijah saw an Atlanta Falcons football game a couple of weeks ago.

We parked the car and went in and took our seats. The children in the chorus are all fifth- and sixth-graders recommended by the directors of the local school choruses. The program listed 45 elementary schools in District XII. Between 350 and 400 children dressed in jeans and red T-shirts filled the platform (think Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir times two), and what appeared to be at least a couple of thousand proud relatives were in attendance (I'm not good at estimating crowd size). It took several minutes just to get all the children onto the platform, and applause continued throughout their long entrance.

The concert turned out to be an EVENT. The chorus sang six songs, including "Knick-knack, Paddywhack" (complete with choreography) and, at the other end of the musical spectrum, "Alleluia!" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There was the usual patriotic medley. Most of the songs were in two-part harmony and Matthew sang alto or second-soprano. His mom and dad and sister were in the audience, of course, along with our daughter-in-law's parents. Her brother and his family were also present because Matthew's cousin, Nicholas, had also been chosen to participate from his school.

The evening had a déjà vu element about it for Ellie and me because we remembered seeing Matthew's father sing with his elementary school chorus at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, Florida, when he was in sixth grade. The déjà vu was doubled for me because I was a boy alto myself, and although our little school did not have an elementary school chorus, I did sing a duet with Mary Grace Hornell at First Methodist Church in Mansfield, Texas, when I was in fourth grade and she was in second. "Whispering Hope," as I recall.

The District XII Elementary Honor Chorus will also be singing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center (new home of the Atlanta Opera) in December as part of the observance of Cobb County's 175th birthday, but Matthew will not be able to participate because of a conflict. This year he has the role of Fritz in the Georgia Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" and Ansley will be a Victorian party girl.

You can't say we aren't doing our part to perpetuate the fine arts. Anyone can donate money. We give flesh and blood.

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