EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sun Valley Song brings great moments in music to Cranbrook

Rev Dr Yme Woensdregt, Conductor, Sun Valley Song
For a week now, I have been inspired by a great choir, but this time it did not happen because I was celebrating Social Media Week or was listening to one of the world's famous choirs complete with the passion of great organists on Youtube.

Admittedly, as I type I am listening to the Three Tenors Christmas Concert recorded in Vienna in 1999, with the headphones kindly given me by my friend Joel Vinge.

The great choir that most recently inspired me  was right here in Cranbrook at Knox Presbyterian Church last Sunday where Sun Valley Song performed  "A Rutterly Wonderful Christmas Concert", conducted by Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt with accompanist Wendy Guimont.

I have attended Sun Valley Song concerts previously, but I really looked forward to this one for some reason -- and in the interests of full disclosure, some of my good friends are members of the choir. And so, cynical me, there I was, even sitting near the front, something I very seldom do, with my friends Sharon and Jim Roberts and members of their family .

From the very opening numbers, I knew we were in for a great afternoon of Christmas carols and songs, maybe it was the choreography where choir members lined each aisle before taking their their places at the front. This choir was there to bring us some great moments in music.

Each of the four parts of the program included Christmas songs and carols, including one of my favourites (Yme's too) 'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime" by the Roman Catholic priest Father Jean Brebeuf. I first heard it sung in French at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Chapleau while attending Christmas Eve mass with my good Roman Catholic friends. I ran back and forth to St. John's Anglican Church only a block away!

Many of the arrangements were by John Rutter, the distinguished British composer, conductor, editor,and arranger mostly of choral music, a wonderful choice for the Sun Valley Song concert.

Each number was greeted with sustained applause by the capacity audience, but it was the encore that brought us to our feet, and a week later is still inspiring me and bringing back wonderful memories. Choirs and organs were  not part of  my upbringing: but part of my DNA. My grandfather George Hunt, who played organ in churches and, yes, piano in English pubs, played for family concerts Sunday after church. His daughter, Muriel, my mother, with her incredible soprano voice, was a soloist, choir director and director of musicals, including 'HMS Pinafore' by Gilbert and Sullivan.

The Sun Valley Song rendition of 'O Holy Night' arranged by Dr. Woensdregt was simply superb, likely the best I have heard, and was greeted with sustained applause by the very appreciative audience. In fact, after I got home, I listened to it sung by some of the world's great choirs, and I will go with the one I heard at this concert.

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than voices of a great choir and  for each choir and each song I hear, a story from my own personal experience arose, and I am  connected in a moment to my past, present and future. Also I am Irish on my father's side, and I have a photo of my parents beside my computer, and they are always smiling, but sometimes moreso when I am listening to great music. I know. I know, but just for a moment my parents were there at the Sun Valley Song concert as the choir sang 'O Holy Night'.
However, as I have noted on other occasions, In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I neither play nor sing well, but have directed concerts and musicals and studied drama at the University of Toronto.

Sun Valley Song members include: Sopranos -- Lynn Campbell, Jan Gordon Hooker, Janine Grieve, Anne Jones, Tracey Kasner, Elizabeth Ross, Linda Rothero, Betty Wardle; Tenor -- Ian Adams, Peter Davidson, Steve Knowles, Bill Lindell, Roger Mitchell, Leslie Molnar, Joel Vinge, Gretchen Whetham; Alto -- Ellen Bailey, Caroline Gottinger, Katherine Kuczerpa-Zorn, Cynthia Lindell, Judy McFarland, Heather Nish, Carolyn Shepherd, Lynne Zacharias; Bass -- Gordon Ambrose, Bill Bale, Jim Buhler, Dave Grieve, Michael Jones, Dean Nish, Peter Schalk.

Thank you so much for the  great moment! Every blessing for the holiday season and Christmas.

My email is mj.morris@liveca

Andy Anderson worked at Smith and Chapple 35 years recalled Christmas as "busiest time" of year

Lindsay Anderson, best known simply as "Andy" who worked at Smith and Chapple Ltd. for 35 years recalled that "the busiest time of the year" was at Christmas.
In a 1987 interview with the Chapleau Sentinel as the store, one of Chapleau's historic businesses closed its doors, Andy said, it was the time when "the big shipment of bikes and trikes and electric trains and all sorts of dolls for the girls would come in. We used to get them especially for Christmas but later on we started to order toys all year round."

Andy started working at Smith and Chapple in 1947 and during the 1950s particularly, after Smith and Chapple expanded across the street from its main store at Birch and Young streets, the Christmas draws hosted by Arthur Grout, the store president, were a highlight of the holiday season.
Numbers were placed throughout the store and if you happened to be standing at one, you would win a prize.
In the Sentinel story, Bill Payette, who had joined the store in 1941, paid tribute to Andy. Bill's father, D.O. Payette, had retired as president of the company in 1949.
Bill said: "Andy carried on loyally for 35 years in the hardware department until he retired in 1982. Thank you Andy for being such a super guy."
All these years later, I am sure those of us who know Andy would second Bill's motion. Andy was a super guy. And I would just add that for years Andy sat on the board of St. John's Anglican Church, and was there on Sunday morning greeting parishioners as they arrived for services.
No matter the weather, citizens bundled up and headed uptown or overtown or across town, to the downtown, and the draws, serenaded along the way by music from the giant Christmas display at Dr. G.E. Young's clinic and building.
The  main store, for newcomers to Chapleau, is where Village Shops is now located. Collins Home Hardware occupies the expansion building.
Some time ago now Andre Renaud reminded me of the toy display downstairs at Smith and Chapple.  "I used to like going downstairs at Smith and Chapple's and look at the toy display..Also the train display they had there every Christmas.Nice place to duck into on the way to school when it was real cold..Warm up for a few minutes and keep going the rest of the way..LOL"

Andre attended the old Chapleau High School on Pine Street, and believe me it was real cold once you turned the corner onto Young Street and headed towards the river. No school buses or snow days back then!

 Ian Macdonald, now retired as professor and head of the department of architecture at the University of Manitoba, at one time had a connection to the Smith and Chapple train display, was also to provide details.

"My Dad looked after the Smith and Chapple hardware department including "toyland", Ian wrote. ". It was set up in the lower level at the east end of the building under the Grocery department. The toyland display always included two electric train layouts. One was an American Flyer and the other was a Lionel. 

"I had the nonsalaried assignment to oversee the operation of both of them which I gladly did. It was the only job I ever had at Smith and Chapple aside from occasionally delivering flyers."

Charlie Purich commented: "I used to love the train display in "Toyland" in the basement floor of S and C. at Christmas.Andy was always there.That place was magical.
According to Vince Crichton in his book 'Pioneering in Northern Ontario', T.A. Austin laid the foundation for the location of Smith and Chapple circa 1887. By 1914 it became known as Smith and Chapple Ltd. In 1930, Mr. Payette and Mr, Grout took over the store but did not change the name.  My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE