Criselda Mierau, who helmed St. Albert Singers Guild for 31 years as artistic director and conductor, has stepped down and moved on. The Edmonton-based pianist and scriptwriter-director is devoting her energies to Acting Out Musical Theatre, a company she founded 15 years ago.
“I was looking for new challenges and I wanted to do more with acting and singing,” Mierau said.
Under the umbrella of Acting Out, Mierau has forged two new choirs: So Noted! and Forte Plus.
“When I first put out the word for So Noted! I thought I’d be lucky to have 20 people. Now I have 50. It’s for adults, and if you can sing, I will supply rehearsal recordings. The biggest give I’m asking from people is commitment,” said Mierau. She added rehearsals start Monday, Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Albert Community High School.
Showcasing her legendary organizational skills and energy, the dynamic artistic director has already penned an old-fashioned radio play complete with costumes, stand-up microphones and background visual elements for a first performance. It runs at St. Albert United Church on Saturday, October 7.
“It’s called The Hammett Hawk. It’s a play on words from The Maltese Falcon. It’s a mystery set somewhere between the 1920s to the 40s. It takes place in a grand but dusty museum and the Hammett Hawk is a priceless artifact. On the night of the museum gala, the Hammett Hawk is stolen and the mystery begins.”
Not every singer wants to perform. For Forte Plus, the second choir, Mierau has created a casual afternoon drop-in arrangement. Members of Forte Plus will practice various genres and styles in four-part harmony on Wednesday afternoons at Red Willow Community Church starting at 2 p.m.
“Again, I thought I’d be lucky to get 10 people. Instead, 30 people approached me and said they were interested. I think I tapped into people who lead busy lives, or are older and want to travel for part of the year or are university students. It’s a no commitment choir. You come on Wednesdays, and it doesn't matter if you can’t come every week.
We’ll be addressing different styles of music and what it takes to improve your singing – how to breathe, how to sing classical music or 50’s and 60’s songs or how to share vocals. People are coming out of the woodwork. It’s a different response than I expected. I thought just a few people would try it, but the response has been very cool.”
By December, if Forte Plus is so inclined, Mierau hopes to take it carolling at hospitals or senior care centres.
“What’s great about this project is that it gives people who yearn to sing more opportunities without using just one approach. And given the feedback, I’m on the right track.”
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