St. Ann's, Westcock, launches junior choirBy Gisele McKnight
God's timing is perfect, and this month all the pieces fell into place for the birth of a children's choir in Sackville.
"For some time I have been thinking about a music program for children based at St. Ann's Church in Westcock," said the Rev. Dr. Ranall Ingalls, priest and rector in the Parish of Sackville and Dorchester.
"In recent weeks, the ideas, the personnel and the funding to launch such a choir appeared."
Last Saturday, 10 children from 6 to 14 showed up for the Children's Choral Workshop at St. Ann's, mentored by some impressive talent. Garth MacPhee led the workshop. He is organist and choirmaster at St. George's Church in Halifax and director of what Ranall calls an outstanding junior choir program there.
After a series of breathing and sound exercises, the group went on to tackle three Christmas songs: Long, Long Ago by W. H. Anderson, a beautiful legato melody; Calypso Carol, by G.M. Fleming; and Ave Maria by Simon Lindley.
"It was exciting to see the way Garth worked with the children, and kept them engaged and interested in the music," said Elizabeth Craig.
That was a lot of musical instruction and practice packed into 90 minutes, but the children enjoyed it, she said.
"I heard from the grandfather of the six-year-old this morning and he said she loved it and is anxious for it to start," said Elizabeth.
"It" is a real junior choir, part of Ranall's plan — and God's — to fill St. Ann's with music a few times a year, and entertain and uplift the community with performances as well.
Saturday's workshop acted as a springboard for the choir, which will begin Jan. 5 with Elizabeth at the helm. She's already heard from seven or eight children who couldn't make Saturday's workshop but are interested in joining the choir after Christmas.
Elizabeth, a member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, is well-acquainted with St. Ann's, living nearby and taking in services now and then. She has taught violin and piano in the community for almost a decade.
"[Rev. Ingalls] approached me and asked me what I thought about this. I thought it was a great idea. Then he asked if I'd be ready to do it," she said.
Elizabeth sings, but not with the same confidence that she plays.
"I lead the singing with the kids in church, but we just sing. We don't think about how we sound," she said.
Still, "this is all about God calling leaders who don't wish to be called!" she said, adding the story of Joshua being told to be strong and courageous was on her mind. "I didn't think I had much of a defence!"
Ranall, she said, has surrounded her with resources to help her get started and encourage growth in this little group. Already people have come forward with offers to help. She is hoping for some assistance from students in Mount Allison University's music program as well.
In January the choir will meet for an hour each Tuesday at 6 p.m.
"We'll aim to sing for St. Ann's occasionally, and in the Sackville Music Festival. And if the community asks us to sing, we'll sing.
"I'm excited about continuing these efforts that Garth has begun, as the St. Ann's Junior Choir has now been officially launched!" she said.
While she might not consider herself a singer, Elizabeth is a musician, teacher and committed Christian.
"I love working with children, and I love God, and to be able to be a part of bringing children to God through music is a joyful task!" she said.
The choir is open to all children of Westcock, Sackville, and surrounding communities. They needn't be Anglican or Christian, nor even religious at all. The intention is that the choir should be a resource and a blessing for the children, their families, and the community, said Ranall.
A Foundation For Life grant has helped kick start the choir with $3,000, and St. Ann's has added $1,000. Other funding sources are being sought. The hope is, with donations, to send three choristers to the annual Diocesan Choir School at Rothesay Netherwood School next summer.
Interested choristers or their parents may contact Elizabeth: emcraig at nbnet.nb.ca