December 25th, 2008

Cream City Chorus, “One World, Dare to Dream.”

The Wisconsin Cream City Chorus winter concert was held Saturday, December 13, at the Unitarian Universalist Church West, in Brookfield. This church has a nice space, but acoustics are not perfect, so we went early to get good seats. As usual, we saw a lot of friends there, so there was plenty of chatting to fill the time before the show started.

The concert title was "One World: Dare to Dream," and, while not exactly a holiday concert, seasonal songs along the general theme of "give us peace" were included. WCCC concerts are frequently "signed" for the hearing impaired, and this time we were interested to see that signing was to be done by members of a UWM ASL class, which made it a learning experience as well.

The concert's first session started off with "One World," by Mark Hayes, followed by "One Tin Soldier," with a very nice solos by Hillary Giffen and Chuck Ellingson. "Wage Peace" was a very engaging and interesting piece with some quirky and thoughtful lyrics.

Digression: The construction "wage peace" reminds me that, oddly enough, in ordinary usage, the only time we use "wage" as a verb is in "wage war." (Ditto "wreak" is only ever "wreak havoc"--.) --Which also lead me to contemplate that the only time we refer to "wages" other than in actual discussion of salaries is the quotation “the wages of sin is death.” It seems to me that there’s a connection there, but I’m not sure where--.

The second half of the first part had a medley of bell-themed songs, with the pleasant “Ding-a Ding-a Ding,” by Greg Gilpin, and a very entertaining piece called “Jumble Bells,” which turned the familiar “Jingle Bells” tune upside down, inside out and rotated it through Pig Latin. These were followed by the “Carol of the Bells” (“Hark, How the Bells”), and a version of “Christmas Bells” (here titled “Peace on Earth,”)(“I heard the bells on Christmas Day”) which had the familiar Longfellow words done to the tune of “The Water is Wide,” which was interesting, but I wondered why depart from the more traditional tune? In accordance with the WCCC’s mission of tolerance and acceptance, Longfellow’s words were mildly bowdlerized, but not shockingly so. Performing this operation successfully on “O Holy Night,” which closed the first half, was a bit more of a stretch.

The second section was more distinctly multicultural, with the chorus member coming out in varied ethnic dress. The starting piece, “Baba Yetu,” was sung entirely in Swahili, which was an impressive performance. There was very nice vocal work on all the remaining parts, including “Tikkun Olam,” based on a Hebrew prayer, and “Bidi Bom,” a Hanukkah song.

The chorus was well rehearsed by Director Kristen Weber, and well supported by accompanist J. Ruben Piirainen. There was a pleasant reception afterward that gave us a chance to congratulate the choristers on their performance.

In the not-so-bleak December:

Well, it's been a quiet month in--Milwaukee.

Due to the family heading out to different destinations for Thanksgiving, Georgie and I went to the "orphans' Thanksgiving" at Lytheria, and had a really good time. There was beaucoup food, largely due to the efforts of Lee, Therese Roden, and Jennifer Newmark, but there were lots of other yummy contributions as well. Georgie's pecan pie was particularly requested and very well received.

So far in December, we've been making it to things that were washed out due to weather last year, which I choose to take as a good omen for the coming year: a friend's holiday party, held the first Saturday of December, our attendance canceled due to blizzard last year; holiday shopping trip to Madison, completed this year in fair style, severely truncated last year due to the same blizzard that K.O.'ed the party. And the December Wisconsin Cream City Chorus Concert, attended and enjoyed this year, not attended due to ice storm last year. My brother in Madison rented a conference room at the nursing home where Mom and Dad are for our use in having a Christmas dinner, and that went well, and everyone seemed to be in good spirits. So, even though the weather's still been crummy (notably unseasonably cold) this year, at least the timing's been better--.

To all who read these tidings at this celebratory season, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Joyous Yule, Good Hannukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or just to have some pleasant times with friends or family.

Most of all, I wish for all of us a safe and secure 2009: it looks like it's going to be a bumpy but hopeful year, and I hope we all get through it intact.