December 14th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 49
Classical music in the mountains
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina photo
The Crowsnest Pass Symphony Orchestra and the Crownest Community Choir performed their annual Community Christmas Concert on Dec. 7 at Horace Allen School.
Pass Herald Reporter
The Crowsnest Pass Symphony Orchestra and the Crowsnest Community Choir delighted audiences at their annual Christmas Concert, performing to the tune of “Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!” as conductor Deborah “Debbie” Goldstein puts it. The concert was held on Dec. 7 at Horace Allen School.

The choir and symphony performed Christmas favorites, from the contemporary Boogie Woogie Santa Claus to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s traditional Te Deum Laudamus, for which the choir sang in Latin.

The symphony consisted of 33 musicians, while 27 members sang in the choir, a huge increase from their 19 members a few years prior. “Debbie has invited men to join us, so the choir is getting bigger and bigger,” says Rae Redekopp, president of the Crowsnest Community Choir. “The men are allowing us a bigger sound, a more full sound.”

Certain musical numbers had the choir or orchestra perform solo, while others produced magic as they performed together. Goldstein says that the dynamic of an orchestra and choir performing together is “very” different than if either group were performing alone. “The choir has parts where the orchestra has to play beneath them, where the volume has to be below them. It’s a different set of listening skills that is needed in order to work together to make it sound good.”

From the perspective of the choir, Redekopp adds that, “Normally, we sing with a piano or we sign a cappella. With the orchestra, you are constantly working on blend, on one not overpowering the other. When you’re used to singing with the piano, it’s one instrument and you get familiarized with it. The last couple of weeks, we practice with the orchestra so that we’re not completely fish out of water.”
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The performance was visual as much as it was aural. The symphony was dressed in black bottoms and white tops, while the choir was dressed all in black accented with a red sparkly scarf. The choir embellished their performance with a hand jive throughout their performance of White Winter Hymnal, creating a rhythmic pattern by tapping their chests. American a cappella sensation Pentatonix, whose video for the song received over 35 million views on YouTube since its release in October 2014, inspired the rendition.

In between performances, members of the choir or symphony read a short background about the tune or composer whose piece they were about to perform, resulting in a fun, often humorous reprieve during intervals.

Goldstein holds a music degree in jazz trombone and arranging, and has been the official conductor for the choir for three years, and one year for the symphony.
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The choir started rehearsing on Sep. 14, and had been practicing jointly with the symphony for approximately three weeks. “This year, we have more members who read music, so the pieces have come along a lot quicker,” says Redekopp. “We’ve had time to do some polishing this year.”

According to the municipality’s website, The Crowsnest Pass Symphony Orchestra was established in 1925, making it one of the oldest in Alberta. “I believe that it was started because of all the immigrants coming into the small little communities of Coleman, Blairmore, Frank, etcetera,” says Goldstein. “There was enough European tradition of playing in orchestras to get one going.”

If you missed the Christmas performance, you can hear the symphony perform at the music festival in March. The choir will next perform in the spring. “Because it’s Canada’s 150th birthday, we’re doing a special celebration,” says Redekopp. “We’ll start getting that organized in January. We’ll be doing some tributes to Canada.” The possibility of a joint performance between the choir and symphony for Canada Day is currently being discussed.
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December 14th ~ Vol. 85 No. 49
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