Singing is one of the most natural ways we express ourselves. But not everyone feels that they are worthy of an audience.
Not so, say the members of United We Sing. They are an outreach program where folks from the community gather for an hour of fun, whether they feel they can sing or not.
United We Sing is the brainchild of Jill Last, who also plays the organ and piano for services, often while conducting said services.
Last says she wanted to have an afternoon each month, where music loves could get together and sing. So, in the fall of 2010, United We Sing was born.
Singer Jean May says the group has been a success because of Last’s enthusiasm.
“It really caught on because of Jill,” she says. “Her love of music, her energy and sense of humour are contagious, and soon participants were being divided into groups and singing such things as rounds.”
No matter what they’re singing, it’s with a smile on their faces — most of all, the conductor’s.
“This often causes laughter because of Jill’s facial expressions,” May says.
Having four groups singing rounds can be amusing, she adds, but not always harmonious. But this is a group that doesn’t shy away from trying their best, and they chalk it up to a learning experience.
Karrie Matthews joined in as a piano accompanist, with a wide knowledge of songs, too.
After putting in an hour of singing together, they all troop over to the church hall for refreshments and fellowship. The group meets the first Wednesday of every month at 1:30 p.m. at United Church, and is always welcoming new faces.
Hope’s best, and only, church choir
Some members of Hope Church have been heard to say that their choir is the best one in Hope.
Best, worst, or so-so, all would be true as it is the only regular church choir in Hope. Some of the members were, at one time, members of the Hope Ladies Choir that disbanded years ago.
That choir was responsible for an annual concert and the Carol Festival that was held at the Coquhalla School. Weeks before the big night, participants were busy practicing duets, solos, school bands and choirs from different churches and other groups.
This concert was so popular due to the variety of Christmas music and especially the children’s choirs. Who doesn’t get a kick out of watching the children up on stage, dressed in their best, grinning, being totally natural and singing their hearts out? It was a special night indeed.
It is thanks to the special dedication of people like Addie Murphy, who refused to let the tradition die, that we continue to enjoy our Christmas music at what we now call the Christmas Concert.
Murphy is also responsible, along with Muriel McMullan, for forming the Hope Community Choir, which includes most of the United Church choir and other interested persons in the community.
Under the direction of Jill Last, with Karrie Matthews accompanying on the piano, the choir meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the United Church. The group sang at the concert in December at the Baptist Church, and are now practicing for a spring concert to be held some time in April.
The music is chosen with an ear to what would be most enjoyable to sing and be heard. There are tunes from movies, Broadway show tunes, country music, gospel and spiritual songs. Not all the songs are known to the choir but with the excellent leadership of Jill Last, they soon become familiar.
It helps to be able to read music but no one would be turned away for lack of that skill. The choir has a number of singers in the soprano, alto, tenor and bass sections but would be happy to have more.
-Submitted by Jean May