(Sosun Suh, musical director of the West Ottawa Ladies Chorus, welcomes the audience to the April 23, 2021 Promise of Spring virtual mini-concert. Photos: Screen captures during performance.)
Announcing the arrival of spring, the West Ottawa Ladies Chorus presented an evening of choral music during their Promise of Spring virtual concert. The performance was the musical inspiration needed after the lengthy winter months. The selection of songs brought one back to moments in time, but yet appealed to all ages.
The concert was virtual just as their Christmas concert had been and directed by Sosun Suh. The spring concert saw 34 members singing in the chorus. The evening opened with the chorus ‘Sing and Rejoice’ a cheery song written by English composer Henry Purcell in the 1600s. Peter Brown on piano and Eric Bouchard on the expressive French Horn accompanied the chorus.
The concert went on to celebrate spring with ‘Sing a Spring Song’ written by American Jill Gallina, followed by ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ composed and written by Jim Steinman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from the Disney film Moana was accompanied by both Peter Brown on piano and Vivian McLean who played chimes, Bodhran and rainstick – one could feel the sound of spring blossoming through this piece of music.
The concert would not be complete without the Scottish farewell song ‘Parting Glass’. This song is popular for remembering loved ones, but proposes one to rise up in a gleeful way.
Sosun and Peter gave two amazing performances that had we been there in person would have seen the audience in complete awe. Playing her Korean haegeum, Sosun made this two-stringed vertical instrument sing. One could literally hear the lyrics of ‘Stand By Me’ escaping as she played. She and Peter went on to perform another moving piece ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ during which Peter played with emotion embracing the piano keys. The performances were a highlight of the evening and would certainly have brought a live audience to their feet.
There is nothing like a sing-a-long as is the custom with the WOLC. The 1969 Beatles upbeat classic ‘Here Comes the Sun’ saw the chorus happily celebrating the arrival of spring, while reminding everyone that the summer season will be here in short time. I’m pretty sure there were several virtual audience members singing along.
A touching collage of photos were shown of chorus members from younger days, their celebrated events and memories of families and friends during this past year of restrictions. During this collage, ‘My Love My Life‘ written in 1976 by ABBA and released on their Arrival album was playing. An appropriate choice to go along with all the new grandchildren celebrated.
The catchy 1927 song written by Harry Woods, ‘Side By Side’, was the second to last song. The ladies wore spring colours for this animated song and we were taken back and forth between the rehearsal and the live performance. It was unique to see the ladies in rehearsal mode.
The audience was extremely touched by the harmony of the chorus members from the first notes sung of ‘You Raise Me Up’. The song was released in 2001 and was written by Irish writer Brandon Grihan (Graham) and the music by Norwegian Rolf Lovland. It has been said that this song is most suitable for chorus because it is majestic, firm and powerful. The WOLC certainly proved this as they shared the incredible power of their voices with the rendition of You Raise Me Up.
The concert met with rave reviews of appreciation – from as far away as Newcastle upon Tyne in England.
Preparing for this concert involves a lot of time and is nothing short of a technical miracle put together by Sosun. Each member has to record their voice and prepare a separate stand-alone video, with their props and costumes, for each song then submit each to Sosun individually. She then has to match the voices and the videos which is no easy feat as the chorus performs in three and four part harmonies and have to harmonize. Rehearsals, that take place virtually with the members being muted, are the key for the members to create the passion that Sosun wishes to express to the audience.
Although the concert is free to watch, donations are gratefully accepted. The chorus has expenses such as paying for the music sheets, the accompanist and the director. Visit this link that brings you to the donation page, click on the green ‘Better Days Ahead’ to provide your donation.
Take the time to thoroughly enjoy the uplifting voices and music of the West Ottawa Ladies Chorus during this 30-minute mini-concert. View the concert on YouTube.