by Danielle Phillips
Consider the word “thread.” At first glance, almost all of us probably think of its most typical usage: a long strand of fiber used in sewing. On the other hand, “thread” has many figurative meanings too — one can hang by a thread in a desperate moment or pick up the loose threads of an abandoned project. And then there’s the thematic thread, which can be found in internet discussion forums, conversations, and narrative plotlines. This type of thread, a continuous element used to connect distinct ideas or thoughts, is what we depend on to create the fabric of meaning in our lives.
The Dubuque Chorale’s November concert Threads of Hope and Love will create meaning by alluding to threads in their literal form, as well as in the thematic sense. This program will be presented in place of the Chorale’s usual fall concert, and will be slightly unusual in that the Chorale itself won’t be singing. (Don’t worry, they’re joining the DSO for their Veteran’s Day program a week later.) Instead, for the first time in the organization’s history, both Dubuque Chorale Children’s Choirs – the Legati Singers and the Staccati Singers – will be joined onstage by just Cadenza, the Chorale’s chamber choir, for a one-night-only performance.
“Pairing [the Children’s Choirs] with a chamber choir is nothing short of brilliant,” remarks Karmella Sellers, Dubuque Chorale Children’s Choirs Program Director and conductor of the Legati Singers. “This will provide an opportunity for the singers to experience music in a smaller setting when singing together.”
Victoria Bausman, conductor of the Staccati Singers, agrees that pairing Cadenza with the Children’s Choirs offers an exciting opportunity.
“This is the first time that we’re doing a more intimate kind of concert like this,” Bausman says. “I really like how well the … groups are kind of blended together. Their music is incorporated into one theme, as opposed to ‘this is one choir’s set, this is another choir’s set.’ It has a really beautiful flow to it that I think also highlights and kind of accentuates the … kids.”
It’s appropriate that the kids are being highlighted for this performance, because this season the Chorale is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Dubuque Chorale Children’s Choir. The Children’s Choir was initially established under the direction of Karmella Sellers as a single group to provide a creative outlet outside of the regular school day for children of Dubuque and surrounding areas. Today there are two groups: the Staccati Singers, a preparatory choir made up of mostly 3rd graders, and the Legati singers, an intermediate choir composed of older children.
“The [children] will be a larger portion of the concert than they are at other times, and we’re doing more work together so that they can have more time singing … than they traditionally would in the fall,” says Dr. Amanda Huntleigh, the Dubuque Chorale’s Artistic Director. “They’re also just a little bit more integrated; …this is going to feel more woven back and forth between the groups.”
This notion that the songs performed by the children will be interwoven with the adults’ like threads in a tapestry returns us to the theme of Threads of Hope and Love, which can be seen in various other ways throughout the concert as well. Most obviously, several pieces on the program contain lyrical references to sewing and the equipment it entails.
“‘Needle and Thread’ is a love song about two broken hearts coming together and mending themselves into one,” Huntleigh continues. “We’re also doing a four-part partner song [called ‘A Silver Thread’]. Each of the parts can be sung on its own … and then you sing them all together, so it’s four songs happening at once.”
Of course, these “common threads” function to tie parts of the program together, which is otherwise focused on love (as in the romantic “Needle and Thread”) and hope.
“One of the pieces that I contributed … is ‘Give Us Hope,’ says Bausman. “It’s a piece that I first heard … when I was in college, and it has a really great energy and message with it, and I think it’s just a really naturally inspiring musical piece. It kind of just embodies what I love that music brings into a concert experience.”
Be inspired by Threads of Hope and Love at 7 PM on Saturday, November 4th at Church of the Nativity (1225 Alta Vista Street). There is no charge for admission; freewill donations are encouraged. For more information, visit DubuqueChorale.org.