Moving Melodies…

My dad has been singing my whole life.  He sang throughout high school, university, and then in church where he was a minister.  In the 70’s, my mom bought him a guitar, which Dad taught himself to play.  We sang together as a family while he played.  But last night was the first time he ever made me cry when he sang…

When he first moved to Saint John more than ten years ago, it wasn’t long before Dad found a group to sing with: a quartet called The Amore Singers (two women and two men).  They had recently lost their bass, and Dad eagerly replaced him.  The group performed many successful shows before its female leader decided to concentrate more on singing with other women – she went on to form The Sopranos.

Dad joined the Men’s Chorus about six years ago (the tenor from the Amore Singers was also in it).  The Chorus’ 15-20 members range from high school age to senior (senior members far outnumber the junior ones)…all are men who love to sing.  Woe betide anyone who calls the Chorus a “choir” by mistake – these guys are serious!  The group is led by director David Mitchell, who is passionate about providing a quality experience for anyone attending the men’s concerts.  The men practice for two hours every Tuesday night (from September to June) at the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Saint John Men's Chorus, November, 2008 - Dad is in front row, 3rd from the right...

Dad has also been in the chorus of some operas at the Imperial Theatre produced by Opera New Brunswick (Amahl and the Night Visitors, Tosca, La Traviata, and Topsy Turvy: A Night of Gilbert & Sullivan).  He has shared the stage with opera stars such as John Avey, Sally Dibblee, Marc Hervieux, Stewart Howe, Jessica MacCormack, and Wendy Neilsen.

Cast of Topsy-Turvy...Dad is at top right...

Last night was the Spring Concert for the Saint John Men’s Chorus…Jim, his parents and I headed for Portland United Church.  I picked up a program as we went in…hmm…Dad hadn’t mentioned he was singing a solo…

The first half of the concert was a mix of classical and religious songs, and passed pleasantly.  I didn’t even mind not being able to understand some of the foreign words!  The Chorus was accompanied on piano by Charles Willett, and on some numbers by young violinist, Owen McCausland (his parents taught my two younger girls violin at Havelock Elementary School).

After a brief intermission, we returned to our seats (man, those pews are hard!).   After a choral version of the Ian Tyson song, “Four Strong Winds,” conductor David Mitchell summoned Owen to return to the stage.  The young man (who is 20, I believe, and was fighting a cold), proceeded to blow us all out of the water with his amazing operatic tenor voice (he had sung with the Chorus before going off to university a couple of years ago)!  The applause was deafening!  The entire chorus sang another song, and then it was Dad’s turn…

Dad stepped to the front, and started to sing one of his all-time favourite songs: “Ol’ Man River” (he’s a big Paul Robeson fan).  By the end, I had tears streaming down my face…the audience was clapping wildly, and I briefly thought of standing up and yelling “That’s my dad!” but I resisted the urge…

As we drove home, Jim’s parents told me to be sure to tell Dad how much they’d enjoyed it, and what a good job he’d done…I waited until this morning to tell him…I didn’t want him to get a swelled head!


Filed under family, memories, music

5 responses to “Moving Melodies…

  1. Connie

    Tears streaming down my face, Wendy. Thank you. I love you. Hug your daddy for me.

  2. planejaner

    Sweet! Music–I don’t believe we could function as fully human without it.
    I wish I could have heard him sing…
    and next time, jump up and yell that it’s your daddy!

  3. Tracy

    Mum&Dad were very impressed. They told me about it TWICE! Lol

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