Chorus sings out for the ’60s
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 06:00 am
At Saturday night’s Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus seasonal finale, expect to see a parade of hippies, existentialists, anti-war protestors, folkies and feminists. Who knows? Puff the Magic Dragon might even make an appearance.
In Let’s Sing Out, artistic director David Garber warps back to the summer of ’67. It was dubbed the summer of love when 100,000 people converged at San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and created a social upheaval that became known as the hippie revolution.
It was also Canada’s 100th birthday, a monumental year when this young northern nation had come of age. Celebrations across the country were non-stop and the nationally broadcast Let’s Sing Out was a hit with post-secondary school audiences.
Winnipeg folk musician and host Oscar Brand patterned it after Hootenanny, an American musical variety television show that featured primarily pop-oriented folk music acts of the day.
“One of the interesting things about it (Let’s Sing Out) was that it was always filmed at a different location, a different campus every week. It went across the country and built up a large following of university students,” said Garber.
Back in 1967, Garber was in Grade 7 and watched Let’s Sing Out regularly mainly because it was “cool” to watch a program targeted at university students. It was on every Friday at 5:30 p.m. prior to the 6 o’clock news.
“He always had guests – the Smothers Brothers, Peter Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel.”
The genesis for the choir’s version of the program surfaced several years ago when a member suggested performing a musical tribute to the ’60s with echoes from the greats such as Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie.
“There were lots of folk songs from that era ingrained in our culture. Songs such as Early Morning Rain and Four Strong Winds. They’ve become part of who we are today. Everyone knows those songs,” Garber says.
In rifling through the catalogue of contemporary folk music, Garber has selected a sampling of old familiars such as If I had a Hammer, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Blowin’ in the Wind, and Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.
Former St. Albert tenor, Kieran Martin Murphy, now in Vancouver performing in Les Miserables, has written a comedic script that will be brought to life by host Timothy Anderson.
“Martin brings out humorous elements like a TV host would do with political jokes, advertisements and the latest breaking news.”
The concert also includes a bit of satire as the recently formed New Mystery Crystals step up to microphone as the New Christie Minstrels, and The Sneekers bring back The Seekers.
“This will be a good-hearted look at the ’60s,” Garber says. “It’s music everybody loves. It’s easily singable. It’s not just a concert where the audience sits in awe of the performer. It’s going to be a wonderful collaboration. It’ll be more like a Fringe show than a choral concert.”