Three Hills musical heritage continues to bloom

To the Editor;

What an amazing weekend my sister and I enjoyed of rich musical performances - all with past and present Three Hills connections.

Friday evening we were invited to hear the oratorio, ELIJAH, performed in the beautiful Jack Singer Concert Hall by the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra. During intermission we were delighted to meet Three Hills born and raised Ian Charter and his wife, Colleen. The couple was not only thrilled with the musical excellence of Friday’s presentation, but Ian was reminiscing when Prairie Music Department presented the same work when Ian was just a lad of nine years of age. His musical genius drank up every moment of the performance, including the joy of hearing his mother, Evelyn Charter, sing the alto arias and recitatives!

Saturday evening at the Kneehill Historical Museum banquet and program, Mayor Tim Shearlaw gave an outstanding overview of the musical heritage that has been an integral part of Three Hills community life and culture. He recalled the cacophony of “musical sounds” that poured out of the practice rooms in Prairie’s old Music Building followed by the amazing Music Night productions that Prairie presented to a full house in the large Tabernacle. Then the Mayor gave a historical outline of the development of the band programs at both Prairie Christian Academy and Three Hills School along with some interesting personal anecdotes of his entering the music world through playing drums! Also, it was fitting that Willard Koch was recognized as the first band director with the Three Hills Community Band! The two bands gave excellent performances and the guests gave warm applause. And as Master of Ceremonies Dan Gascon well stated, these young performers are our musicians of the future!

Sunday afternoon was the climax of these musical treats! We attended an outstanding concert at the magnificent Grace Presbyterian Church. The program featured three musical groups; i.e. the church choir of Grace, the Foothills Brass Quintet and Ambrose University Singers. The entire program was outstanding in every way. The special feature of the program was that Ian Charter the inaugural performance of his composition, Laudate Dominum, based on Psalm 117. The three musical groups joined together in performing this musically-demanding composition, filled with contrapuntal lines, articulate punctuation, and high energy. A few male singers outside the core of regular choir members were invited to bring added support to the choir. One of the singers was Dan Sommerville, a Prairie grad of ’73, and with his family root system here in Three Hills! Pipe organist, Donna Holoboff, a Prairie grad. of ’63, gave the final touch of musical beauty to the performance. The audience responded with enthusiastic applause! (It was also announced that Ian Charter is retiring from Ambrose University the end of June after 27 years as Associate Professor of Theory and Composition and conductor of the Ambrose University Singers!)

On Saturday, May 4, another distinguished choral conductor with Three Hills roots, namely Dr. Bob de Frece will be presenting an outstanding concert with his University of Alberta Mixed Chorus and University of Alberta Faculty of Education Handbell Ringers Choir. The occasion will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of their Annual Spring Tour. You will not want to miss this wonderful evening of musical richness, both chorally and instrumentally, as well as honoring their deeply revered and respected conductor and Three Hills own Dr. Bob de Frece. See you at the concert!

Rhoda Murray

Three Hills, AB