Let Us Be Instrumental To The Cause Of The Commonwealth Chorale

Published 3:35 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

There is a pre-addressed white envelope attached to a blue piece of paper inserted into today's edition of The Farmville Herald.

Hold it up to your ear and listen.

Listen very intently.

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You won't hear a thing.


Simply silence.

The kind of silence that has no golden value to it at all.

Make a tax-deductible contribution and mail that envelope back to the non-profit Commonwealth Chorale, however, and you can and will hear the Messiah.

The more than 60-voice Commonwealth Chorale will need an orchestra for its Messiah performances later this year and musicians don't grow on trees.

Go ahead.

Take a look.

There, see?

Or, no, you don't. Neither do I.

Not a musician in sight on any tree.

Music, like so many of the arts, provides us with sustenance in ways that are both intangible and yet manifestly essential. Our souls, if you will, develop a degree of blindness, of deafness without the arts. That is why so many lament the fact that the arts in public schools across America have always been among the first eliminated when budgets are cut by state funding reductions. The arts are mistakenly thought to be non-essential. <br />
What a grave miscalculation.

The Commonwealth Chorale is pursuing a very modest campaign goal of $5,000 to employ the 25 musicians, or players, needed to provide a free-to-the-public performance of Messiah. We don't need a miracle to reach that goal.

We can, in fact, have fun with this fund drive.

Why not sponsor a musician? The trumpet player, cellist, the one performing on the oboe or bassoon, on the harpsichord, organ, violin, viola and timpani.

Those 25 musicians, at a total cost to the Commonwealth Chorale of $5,000, come at an average of $200 per musician. Get a group of friends to pool their donations to sponsor a member of the orchestra. A Sunday School class could do the same thing, and quite appropriate for a performance of Messiah.

Got buddies you exercise with at the Y? Make a contribution together, go to the performance and enjoy sharing the notes that your collective generosity is sounding with such transcendent beauty into the world.

A family could do likewise and then Mom and Dad and Granma and Granpa and the kids, all of you could then go and enjoy the performance knowing that one of the musicians was there entirely thanks to you all.

The Commonwealth Chorale and its performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah merit our contribution. Known as “the cultural jewel of Southside Virginia,” the Commonwealth Chorale was created in the 1970s when the choir from Farmville Presbyterian Church combined with that of Hampden-Sydney's College Church and an orchestra from Lynchburg joined them to perform Messiah. How good is the Commonwealth Chorale? Thirty years later it performed Messiah with members of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. That's how good.

The Commonwealth Chorale's voices come from our own community and surrounding counties. Their voice is ours.

Music expresses the infinite, the eternal, the inarticulate speech of the heart and soul.

Since the lullabies we heard as babies eased our fears and transported us into the land of dreamscapes where anything was possible and no monsters existed, melodies have inextricably linked each generation of humanity to something greater than itself. And, yet, because human beings compose the melodies, pulling them from the firmament, those notes reveal something very deep about our own better natures, our better angels.

In Messiah, Handel used a form of composing called “text painting” that sees the notes rise and fall with the meaning of the words being sung. When the words soar the music spreads its wings and ascends into a skyscape of sound. The notes color the words, underlining their meanings.

Messiah's second act ends with the famous and triumphant Halleluja Chorus.

Let us, then, raise the roof and open each other up to the heavens.

Hold that envelope to your ear now.

Hear anything?

(PS-If your dog has eaten the envelope, the address is The Commonwealth Chorale, 24-W Wilson Drive, Rice, VA 23966)