When musical worlds collide

Thursday, February 17, 2011
There’s always something exciting about pushing the boundaries. That is as true for musicians as it is for painters, sculptors, snow boarders and teenage sons and daughters. “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass” of Carol Barnett is a great example! The singers have been hard at work preparing an encore performance of this groundbreaking work which will take place in just over a week. At the same time some really adventurous and determined folk musicians have been working just as hard!

Bluegrass music, much like the folk styles of the Appalachian region of the United States from whence it arose, is based on aural tradition with technique and music passing down from one generation of players to the next. Reading music? Mixed time signatures? Harmonies that aren’t typical of the American folk tradition? It’s enough to give even the most seasoned picker an ulcer. Pushing through comfort levels of harmonic structure and even time signatures, although somewhat scary for all involved, can be hugely rewarding! And when that band of players includes a veteran of the Grand Ol’ Opry, a pair of players from a working band in Ithaca, and a couple of very talented Elmira and Corning musicians, the results are electrifying!

This coming Monday evening the band and choir will hear each other for the first time in rehearsal, brought together by the amazing and exciting music that Ms. Barnett has crafted. This is music that weaves the best of contemporary choral writing with amazing heartfelt texts by Marisha Chamberlain and some really excellent playing on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and upright bass. Will we be considered an alternative “green” power source? Probably not. But that soft glow you see pulsing in the sky over Horseheads on Monday evening won’t just be from the parking lots at the shopping centers!

The best advice anyone can give regarding this crash of musical worlds is to find your way to the First Methodist Church on Broad Street in Horseheads on Sunday, February 27 to experience the electricity for yourself! - - will