Through the ages, mankind has developed some amazing musical instruments. From Stradivarius violins to Steinway pianos, from Gibson Guitars to the majestic Massey Organ at Chautauqua, each of these, and countless others, when played by a gifted musician, have the magical ability to transport audiences.
Yet no instrument made by human hands has the amazing versatility, the range, the force and beauty of the human voice.
Last week, thanks to the generous gift of tickets from our condo neighbor, Linda, we attended a concert presented by the Charlotte Chorale. This group of dedicated men and women is in its 25th year of performing throughout the region. Members are drawn from all areas of the country, many here only during the snowbird season.
The focus of the concert was "Music From the Stage."
The program featured a broad range of works from 19th century opera through HMS Pinafore to a tribute to Sigmund Romberg and selections from Porgy and Bess, South Pacific, West Side Story and Mama Mia!
The blending of the 80-voice chorale was under the baton of Artistic Director, Dr. William Dederer.
This gifted musician may be familiar to Chautauqua County readers since he spent a long period in Western New York. Following his graduation from SUNY Fredonia, Dr. Dederer stayed on to serve for 13 years as Professor of Music.
In addition, he has performed with the Erie Philharmonic.
Like Dr. Dederer, many of the members of the outstanding chorale have come to our corner of Florida from across the map. And the blending of all these rich, well-trained voices made for a memorable afternoon.
As we listened, enthralled by the magnificent music, I remembered the enjoyment I had many years ago when I was a member of the choir at the Findley Lake United Methodist Church.
As voices go, mine was an easily forgotten part of the singing group, but I performed well at filling a choir robe in the alto section.
For several years, it was a joy to be a small part of a group of Christians involved in the music ministry of the church. Under the direction of then choir leader Bob Taylor, our members also included his wife Carolyn, whose lovely soprano voice could be counted on to enhance any hymn. Other members I can recall were Carmen Ellsworth, her husband Jim, and, from time to time, Chris Greenwald. It was a warm and supportive team of friends.
Unfortunately, a bad case of the flu left me with a permanent resident frog in my throat, so I dropped out of the choir. I'm sure my fellow members appreciated the decision.
At last week's chorale concert, I found myself nodding to the beat of the soaring songs of Bernstein and Rogers, Gershwin and Berlin. And once again, I was a grateful listener as 80 dedicated singers blended their talents to share that most amazing instrument of all, the human voice.