The Island Singers amaze with ‘Let the Music Fill Your Soul’

The Island Singers perform their annual Christmas concert at the Little Current United Church titled ‘Let the Music Filll Your Soul.’ photo by Michael Erskine

MANITOULIN—The Island Singers and guests presented one of the most intricate and charming musical interludes to grace this Christmas season as they presented their musical offering ‘Let the Music Fill Your Soul,’ once in an evening presentation at 7 pm on Saturday, December 15 at the Little Current United Church followed by a reprise performance at 3:30 pm on Sunday, December 16 at the Mindemoya Missionary Church.

The first song of the evening performed by the Island Singers was also the evening’s title song, Robert Bode’s ‘Let The Music Fill Your Soul’ as arranged by Jacob Narverud, and the choir was accompanied by Sarah Hovingh on clarinet, followed Ann-Marie Scott’s outstanding solo of Kate Rusby’s ‘Serving Girl’s Holiday’ as arranged by Denis Donnelly.

Other songs performed included David Waggoner’s ‘A Winter’s Night,’ ‘The Manger Carol’ as arranged by Ann Synder and accompanied by Ms. Hovingh on the clarinet; the classic ‘Ave Maria’ by Bach and Mendelssohn’s ‘Lift Thine Eyes (Elijah)’ as arranged by Kirby Shaw; ‘The Sussex Carol’ arranged by Elaine Hagenburg (as familiar a tune as can be, as Director Chris Theijsmeijer noted, it is a piece that all beginning piano players come to master); Edmund Sear’s ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’  as arranged by Mr. Shaw.

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When it came to the traditionally challenging performance of ‘Ave Maria,’ Mr. Theijsmeijer dedicated the piece to the many challenges that the choir and its members had struggled with over the past year.

The audience was invited to share the load as the choir took a break by singing the traditional carol ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing.’

The evening continued with Goetze’s ‘Sing Alleluia’ (conductor Annalee Cooper), ‘Starry Night of Winter;’ ‘Keep Your Lamps’ as arranged by Victor Johnson; Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ as arranged by John Leavitt; with “one master followed by another” said Mr. Theijsmeijer, as he introduced Mozart’s ‘Ave Verum Corpus,’ as arranged by Michael R. Robinson. This Latin song translates to “Jesus, word of God incarnate, born of Virgin Mary. On the cross, his flesh was torn with nails to atone for the sins of man. Cleanse your people by your blood and water/ Feed us with your broken body, now and forever more.” The Latin number follows a long standing tradition of the Island Singers of having at least one in each performance. The evening was rounded out with Ruth Morris Gray’s ‘Come and See the Baby’ and Mary Lynn Lightfoot’s ‘Jubilate, Alleluia.’ 

The evening was closed out with the melancholy Jimmy Rankin ode ‘Fare Thee Well Love’ and a solo by Alex Baran.

The Island Singers were guided through most of the performances under the capable hand of director Chris Theijsmeijer and included sopranos Cecilia Baumann, Bary Buie, Lydia Burlein, Annalee Cooper, Michelle Cooper, Sharon Ferguson, Wendy Gauthier, Jessica Jordison, Jane Prosser, Holly Scott and Heather Theijsmeijer; tenors Alex Baran and Brian Bird; alto Donna Beam, Sam Cooper, Doreen Duncanson, Barb Grigg, Kathy Jones, Ann-Marie Scott, Linda VanderVeen and Theresa Webb; and bass Raymond Baumann, Roger Brasil, John Diebolt, Ray Kloestra, Arik Theijsmeijer and David Williamson. Linda Wilton and Alex Baran sat accompaniment at the piano.

Following the performances, and particularly the carol involving audience participation, director Chris Theijsmeijer encouraged those enthusiastic singers in the audience to join the choir. “We welcome new members seeking musical challenges and exciting choral experiences,” he noted, adding “if you are interested in taking part please contact me at 705-968-0404 or by email at ctheijsmeijer@gmail.com. The next performance of the choir will take place with the Manitoulin Community Choir and the professional touring choir Elmer Isler Singers on March 24.

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