Men’s Choir: beauty
in any language
The Smoky Valley Men’s Choir will present its 12th biennial Hyllningsfest concert at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 at Bethany Lutheran Church. The event has been on many calendars since it was announced and weekly rehearsals began in August.
The Choir, established in 1997, has had as many as 40 or more members, and this year the ranks have increased to 50. Members’ ages span the decades and at times the Choir has included two or more generations from the same family.
This group will turn a tin ear to platinum. No listener can come away from a performance without feeling better about everything and glorious about what has just happened. The Choir performs with astonishing clarity, range and resonance, offering a broad repertoire of both sacred and secular music. Under direction of Leah Ann Anderson, and with accompanist Brenda Finch, the group has thrilled audiences since that first golden chord rolled out 22 years ago.
Long-celebrated as a vocalist and conductor, Anderson has directed the Choir since it was founded; she retired a few years ago after teaching many years at Smoky Valley High School but continues to teach at Bethany College.
The Men’s Choir embodies the importance of music in the community and as a part of Hyllningsfest, Anderson has said. “Sweden has a long tradition of men’s choirs, and so it was fitting and good that we do this.” It was the idea of Carroll Lindgren, who wanted to form a community men’s choir as part of the Hyllningsfest program, and asked Anderson to direct the group.
“We like to keep the concerts informal,” she is fond of saying. “We’re a community choir, after all; we’re not a professional choir but we have a lot of talent. This enables me to continue to raise the bar when choosing literature for the singers,” she said.
The bar is raised again. Anderson says, for example, that Choir members are refining Swedish pronunciation for part of the program; and the Choir’s superb tenor trio – Stephen Klaassen, Mark Klaassen and Tyler Johnson – with oboist Richard Anderson and pianist Brenda Finch, are rehearsing the exquisite Nella Fantasia (“In my Fantasy”).
Anderson continues to find new voices, refine the old ones, challenge the group’s range and repertoire. Given comments from veteran singers, performances are as pleasing for the choir as for the audience. From the first note, it’s clear that the Choir members love what they’re doing.
The Choir is known for its thrilling range and pitch-perfect tone, its challenging and wide-ranging programs, from the quick and light through familiar ballads, to the moving and soulful classics of the ages.
They are the consummate Choir, of the community and of everything that says of the world: Beauty.
Jaws of Life to free
a bottle of aspirin
Early in the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” Benjamin Braddock’s parents invite their friends for a boozy celebration of their son’s college graduation. One of them, Mr. McGuire (actor Walter Brooke), pulls Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) away from the clack and prattle to get him alone, discuss the future.
“I just want to say one word to you, Benjamin,” McGuire says. “Plastics! There’s a great future in plastics.”
McGuire could not then have imagined the horrors to be visited on millions of Americans who now go in search of a toothbrush or aspirin and come away with a package that can’t be opened without a bolt cutter.
One brand of non-prescription pills for allergies comes in a plastic bottle no bigger than a common ice cube. The little bottle, with its adult-proof cap, is packed on a plastic shelf and encased in a cardboard container the size of a cereal box. A ½-oz. bottle of nose spray is vacuum-sealed in armored plastic that requires a chain saw and hydraulic jaws from a rescue service for opening. On store shelves everywhere are countless remedies, tools, toys and devices for putting comfort or convenience in lives, only to make it all miserable by sealing comfort and convenience in bullet proof plastic.
At some point much of our society will grind to a halt because of plastic, and for many reasons. Chief among them will be that all goods (even canned ones) including socks and underwear, will be encased in 30 mil sheeting thick as a debit card, and so will the tools and explosives required to slash, pry or blast them open.
The armed forces, with munitions experts and a bayonet or two, are likely to be called to assist consumers as soon as they leave the check-out line. The wait will be excruciating, especially for those who need both aspirin and antacid.
The armor-plating of common goods takes the anti-tampering movement too far. It is one thing to protect civilization; it is quite another to disable it.