ST.JAMES’ CHURCH, STONEHAVEN
What a wonderful experience this was for the seventeen members who made up the “small but beautifully formed “Stonehaven Chorus” last Sunday and for the few others members who attended the concert but were unable to take part.
Several months ago we were asked by David Fleming of St.James’ Church if we would like to share a concert with this touring choir from America, show them a warm welcome and provide some hospitality. As our May Concert was over and the choir had disbanded for the summer we knew that many would not be able to participate but managed to draw enough members together to form a small but balanced choir. Ralph Jamieson, conductor of the Stonehaven Chorus, agreed to take two Monday rehearsals and conduct on the Sunday of the concert.
The pieces we performed were, “Ships in the Haven”, “Air Falalalo”, “The Lord is my Shepherd” by Dilys Elwyn-Edwards and “Nu hverfur sol”. We also sang a beautiful arrangement by Jonathon Quick of “Loch Lomond” jointly with the Sacramento master Singers. When Sunday arrived, Stonehaven Chorus President Marilyn Cusine, along with a few others, set up a wonderful finger buffet in St. Bridget’s Hall for our guests to enjoy between rehearsals and concert. Our choir gathered for a rehearsal at 4pm and the Sacramento Master Singers arrived around 5pm. There were 38 singers in their choir (normally 50, but some could not manage the journey) plus an accompanist and their conductor, Dr Ralph Hughes.
The Chorus then merged with their choir to rehearse “Loch Lomond” and instantly realised how friendly and polite they all were and how Scotland had already made an impact on them. They had only arrived the day before in the UK and had travelled to Perth where they stayed the previous night. Still suffering a bit from jetlag, they showed no signs of it and were full of enthusiasm for this concert in a venue with “fantastic acoustics and peacefulness”. Their friendliness became even more apparent at “tea-time” when we shared our buffet and conversation, introducing ourselves and hearing about their trip, discussing our countries and our choirs.
After a mad dash back to St.James’, they began the first set of their concert pieces by singing an arrangement of “Shenandoah” by James Erb. The SMS choir entered from the back of the church and surrounded their audience to sing this piece and the effect was breathtakingly beautiful. They then gathered around the grand piano for the rest of the concert. Among all of the wonderful pieces of music they sang, two by Scottish Composer, Sir James Macmillan, “Data est mihi omnis potestas” and “Lassie, Wad Ye Loe Me?” and an atypical “fun” a cappella arrangement of “The Stars and Stripes forever” composed by John Phillip in 1896, this arrangement by John Kuzma, were particularly memorable. Mid way through their concert, “The Stonehaven Chorus” performed their short recital of four songs and were warmly rewarded with rapturous applause from the audience. The finale of the concert was the joint choir singing “Loch Lomond”, for which the Americans had mastered a very convincing Scottish dialect. It sounded beautiful and it was a privilege to stand amongst them and be part of this amazing choir.
The long standing ovation by the audience said it all….. Following the concert, more hospitality was provided in St.James’ Hall with nibbles and drinks and elated praise from and to both choirs. Some photos were taken for posterity and the amazing day ended with a sincere “haste ye back” and an invitation to visit them in Sacramento some day!
They reluctantly departed back to Perth for another night and were then to be travelling to Stirling, Glasgow (to attend a workshop with maestro Sir James MacMillan on Thursday) and Edinburgh (to perform a lunchtime Concert in St.Giles’ Catherdral on Friday 26th), travelling home on Saturday. A few were to be extending their visit to Scotland and returning to America the following week. …..Their favourite memories of their trip to Stonehaven are bound to be, their visit to Dunnottar Castle; our Scottish scenery, a wonderful concert performed in a perfect venue, amazing friendship and hospitality and most of all….Chorus member Jennifer’s shortbread (there’s a rumour that she’s thinking of selling it to the Americans!! Ha-ha).
Well done STONEHAVEN CHORUS!