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U of G arts turn to shine

By Chris Clark

It had been some time since I darkened the door of a church. However, I did just that on Saturday to hear the University of Guelph Symphonic Choir and Chamber Singers.
It was a lovely evening at the Church of Our Lady, where the performance called Labour of Love lived up to its billing.
“Through singing I believe we can feel a connection with any other place and time in history,” said interim conductor Lanny Fleming in the program notes.
How right he is. There’s a universality to music. As they sang to the high heavens, they even lightened this dark heart. The performance reminded me that the human voice is a magical instrument. The marriage of four-voice parts makes for, well, beautiful music, especially in Guelph’s very own cathedral high up on the hill.
As they sang, it dawned on me that these students are – pardon the pun – among unsung artistic types in the university community. Sports always gets the spotlight (and money), while endeavours such as art, theatre and music, including the symphonic choir and chamber singers, get little by comparison.
If you think about it, the choir, chamber singers and other creative university efforts can involve as much time in their disciplines as athletes do in theirs.
Student athletes practise and play. Fleming’s talent rehearses and performs. Their respective regimens can be equally exacting, especially when juggling full-time studies at the same time. The choir practises once a week during the semester and the chamber singers twice a week. The pace picks up leading to performances. Earlier this fall they enjoyed a “fantastic experience” performing at the River Run Centre with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. Saturday they were on their own in an equally impressive setting.
Just as university athletes play for the love of sports, university artists, actors and singers do it for the love of creativity. Different avenues, but the same outcomes.
A small minority of students get a credit for being in the choir. The remainder – including members of the university community and community at large – are in it for the sheer love of music. It showed on Saturday night.
I left Church of Our Lady thinking of an old church standard, Nearer My God to Thee.  I am not sure I can go that far. However, I do know it was a splendid evening of spiritually uplifting music.

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