The East Valley Chorale (EVC) is a refuge for me each week as I often start each week exhausted. We meet on Tuesdays to practice, and it feels like the week has already beat me up (…you know how Mondays and Tuesdays can be). Chorale rehearsals somehow become a place of refreshment as we work hard, song after song. Every week, someone—sometimes me—seems to say, 8 o’clock?! How did that hour end so fast?! As we sing tirelessly, we are somehow energized!
At first glance, whether in a rehearsal or at a workshop, it seems as though the Chorale merely sharpens musical talent and skills, but honestly, each week the members bring weary bodies and tired voices from the day and come together to worship God in one of our favorite forms – music.
…YES, we sharpen our musical talent and skills too, thanks to our marvelous accompanist, Eric Addis and our shepherd-like Director, Bruce Cochran. Without them, we might still meet on Tuesdays to sing to God, but our talent and skills would progress much more slowly!
On October 20th and 21st, Dr. Judd Bonner and his accompanist Steven Dahlgren, M.M. (Assistant Professor of Music at California Baptist University) graciously visited the East Valley Chorale in Arizona for our second annual choral workshop. They came to help us sharpen our musical talent and skills; become more worshipful in heart and presence; and to fellowship for literally about eight hours that weekend. And guess what… the Chorale members walked away both exhausted and exhilarated! There is something special about doing what you were made by God to do. It recharges you in a way nothing else can.
At this workshop, some of the most memorable moments included:
- Taking familiar songs like Fear of the Lord, Total Praise, Come Worship the Lord, and many more and making them creatively challenging and almost new again. Sometimes, in any choir, singing the same song many times can make it become automatic. Having a new director with a different vision for a couple days forces the Chorale to pay closer attention make the music come alive in new ways.
- Preparing for our upcoming Christmas concerts. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could live in the Christmas season all year long! The Chorale went over Christmas music—some new and some familiar—to prepare for this season. We prepare, not just because Christmas is fast-approaching, but because we prepare for the birth of our Savior like we prepare for a loved one’s birthday (only this birth changed the world for all time).
- Sight-reading Contemporary Christian songs you may have heard on the radio, like How Can it Be?, We Believe and others and singing them more loudly, more clearly, and more worshipfully than simply jamming to them in the car. This was one of the most powerful parts of the workshop for me because it demanding musically and the songs we sang were familiar to me. I got to focus my eyes on Jesus as I sang words that were new to some Chorale members. We ended the weekend singing How Can it Be? because it was one of Dr. Bonner’s favorites.
When someone comes to see us sing, our main goal is that they experience Jesus, and that we move them. If you want to be moved and perhaps to experience the presence of God in a new way, come see one of our remaining concerts for 2017.