Music in the air

April 21, 2015 -- For the first time in ten years, I missed an Island Jazz performance.  On Sunday afternoon, I opted instead to attend the Fort Myers Mastersingers performance on Sanibel, at the Community Church.

The music was thrilling and beautiful.  It was performed by the full Mastersingers chorus, including its chamber chorus and the regular chorus.  A chamber orchestra from the Naples Philharmonic accompanied them; this group consisted of two flutes, two violins, a viola, a cello and a bass.  The program included Shubert’s Mass in G, Lewandowski’s Hallelujah (Psalm 150), the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah, the Kyrie from Verdi’s Requiem, Bach’s Gloria in Excelsis, a spiritual called Ride On, King Jesus, and a modern piece called Gloria that was written by a chorus member, Jason Bahr.

Jason wasn’t present because he was in New York City, where another one of his works was being performed.  He is a professor of music at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The artistic director, Jeff Faux, gave brief introductions and explanations of each piece.  His speaking style was casual and engaging.  His enthusiasm for the music was clear.

My friend Jill Janda-Kanner is a soprano in the chorus, and she serves as president of the Mastersingers’ board of directors.  In the program, she wrote, “it is essential that we convey the emotion of the music, not just sing the correct notes and rhythms.”  I read that sentence after the concert, at home.  But before that, as I was leaving the concert I saw Jill and told her how much I loved the performance and that it even made me choke up with emotion because of its beauty and power.  Now that I read her words, I see that is exactly what was intended.

I didn’t just put a free will offering in the basket at the back of the room.  I filled out a membership form, wrote a check, and became a “friend” of the Mastersingers; that’s what I put in the collection basket.  I intend to hear this wonderful chorus more often.

Jill is a retired music teacher who still gives lessons to individual students on Sanibel.  While there are some other Sanibelians in the Mastersingers, this group draws voices from all over the county.  They must audition to be in the chorus, but they also must be willing to make a significant commitment and to follow through on that commitment with dedication.
Island Jazz in mid-March.  Tom Cooley, the manager, "den mother," and founder is second from the left, back row.

Meanwhile, over at BIG ARTS, the Island Jazz concert went well.  Tom reported to me that there was a new guest trombone player, and a guest keyboard player who sat in for a few numbers.  This was the group’s musical leader’s last concert for the season.  But the regular saxophone player will fill in for him and lead the band for this coming Sunday’s concert, which will be the last one in this tenth season of the Island Jazz band.

Members of the band have had some health scares, but the show goes on.  A couple seated behind me at the Mastersingers concert said they were surprised to see the “outdoor jazz concert 3PM” signs posted.  “I thought they were done for the year,” said the woman.  I turned around and told them that there is yet another concert next Sunday, and explained that the group was my husband’s band.  “So you live in a house divided?” said the man.  I laughed and said this was the first Island Jazz concert that I’ve missed.

Our neighbors Henry and Inge also were at the Mastersingers concert instead of Island Jazz, where they’d normally be.  When Henry saw me, he joked, “Aren’t you at the wrong concert?”

But no, I was definitely in the right place.  Music was alive on that Sanibel Sunday.


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