We come to the second post in our Advent series. Looking toward the Youth Advent Concerts coming up this Sunday, Wes Griffin writes on their meaning in his life and in the lives of our youth.
Wes Griffin has performed with numerous sacred and secular vocal groups and is currently the Director of Youth Music and Associate Music Director of Glenn. He has built a model classically-based youth music program with strong participation. Wes is also an accomplished tenor soloist.
Rhythm and melody enter into the soul of the well-instructed youth and produce there a certain mental harmony hardly obtainable in any other way. Plato
There is something inexplicable but profound in vocal and choral singing. As listeners in an audience or congregation, we are blessed in our listening, but as singers, there is a bond, a camaraderie, a musical fellowship that is very powerful. Often, the anthems that are best-remembered and loved by the youth are the ones that were the most difficult and required the most discipline and rehearsal time. In a sense, the “process” of preparing the music becomes as important as the “product” of singing it in performance and/or worship.
Many times, it is my joy (and sometimes curse) to be able to “step back” as a conductor and allow the youth singers to take charge of the musical moment with little or no guidance from me. The “curse” is that in these moments, I am often brought to tears by the beauty of both their singing and their obvious pleasure in sharing their talents with others. At these precious times, I truly feel the spirit of God present and among us. Nevertheless, somewhere (I am sure) it is mandated that conductors may not break down in front of their choirs regularly, so as not to distract them, so tears must quickly be put aside (at least by the time of the next anthem).
Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony, but strive to unite your voice together, so as to make one clear melodious sound. John Wesley
The Glenn Little Chapel is a remarkable space for choral singing. The acoustics are such that even the quietest voices may be heard and appreciated. Younger and/or less experienced singers are encouraged and supported to sing solos or in small ensembles. More advanced singers are provided opportunities for substantial solos and ensembles. All singers gain confidence, supported by our wonderful congregation and local community.
Nothing on earth is so well suited to make the sad merry, the merry sad, to give courage to the despairing, to make the proud humble, to lessen envy and hate, as music. Martin Luther
In her inspiring sermon “How Will You Prepare?” from last Sunday’s 11:00 a.m. worship service, Rev Blair Setnor challenged and encouraged us to reevaluate our priorities away from the trappings of consumerism and self-gratification and more toward anticipating the coming of the Christ Child and in helping others. In one of our musical selections for this Sunday’s concerts, “There’s a Spirit in the Air”, the great lyricist Brian Wren pens it best:
When a stranger’s not alone, when the homeless find a home.
Praise the love that Christ revealed, living, working, in our world.
With that in mind, in this wondrous season of hope and anticipation, my wish is that you will set aside time this Sunday afternoon to attend one of the concerts.
Come to marvel at the talents and gifts of our youth.
Come and support their courage and self-confidence.
Come to be inspired by and receive musical blessings.
Come and hear the angels sing, and Christ most certainly will come to us.
This Sunday, December 6, at 3:00 and 4:00 p.m., the combined Glenn Youth Choirs will present two back-to-back concerts celebrating music of the season. Formally titled "The Little Chapel Youth Choral Series", this is the 11th season of their annual Advent concerts. The concerts are dedicated to providing youth from 6th through 12th grades opportunities to sing the praises of God in the wonderful confines of The Little Chapel, one of the outstanding choral venues in this area. Free of charge; there will be an offering collected as a fundraiser for their choir tour/mission trip to Toronto in the summer of 2016.