Saturday, October 24, 2015

Celebrating Social Media with great choirs and organs, always on, always connected

By Michael J Morris
Whenever I muse about celebrating Social Media, I decide to listen to some great choirs complete with the passion of great organists on Youtube.

I am able to enjoy them thanks to the generosity of my friend Joel Vinge who gave me a set of super headphones. In an admission of my approaching Winter years, and a bit of hearing impairment, I accepted them and spend  totally marvellous afternoons attending concerts featuring great choirs.

Choirs and organs by the way are not part of  my upbringing: they are part of my DNA. My grandfather George Hunt, who played organ in churches and, yes, piano in English pubs, played for family concerts Sunday after church. 

His daughter, Muriel, my mother, with her incredible soprano voice, was a soloist, choir director and director of musicals, including 'HMS Pinafore' by Gilbert and Sullivan.

In the interests of full disclosure though, I must admit that I neither play nor sing well, but have directed concerts and musicals and studied drama at the University of Toronto. 

 I was a member of St John's Anglican Church Junior Choir, and when my voice changed, I asked Mom who was the choir director, one night while she was doing the supper dishes, if I should join the Senior Choir. Mom said, "Sing the scales with me.:" Do, Re Me," and Mom suddenly said, "Nope!" 

I was so insulted but survived and thus my singing career ended at twelve!

Enough already. You are wondering what the history of my family in music has to do with Social Media.  I started in 2014 when the theme of the week was Reimagining Human Connectivity: The Future of Now, Always On, Always Connected
Joel Vinge


Everything.  I attend my Youtube concerts, featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. the choirs of the National Cathedral in Washington, Westminster Abbey, St. James Cathedral (Toronto), St. George's Cathedral (Kingston). St. Paul's Bloor Street (Toronto) and a few others.

Youtube is a huge player in social media, and there I am in front of my computer being connected in a moment to great choirs of my choosing -- in effect experiencing the future of now, always on, always connected. In fact I am listening to selections by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as I type.

One of the comments I saw on Youtube was that there is "nothing more beautiful than voices of a great choir and the sounds of a talented passionate organist." 

I agree. With all respect to choirs here which I enjoy, I always enjoyed trips to Vancouver where I could attend Christ Church Cathedral and connect to the choir and organist. I have sat in the pews at St. Paul's Bloor Street in Toronto and listened to the Anglican Bishop of Toronto speak "at" the congregation --- as Timothy Findley wrote in his awesome novel 'The Wars'. Best use of a preposition I ever saw!  But mostly I was there for the music not to listen to the Bishop speak at me.

For each choir and each song I heard, a story from my own personal experience arose, and I was connected in a moment to my past, present and future. Also I am Irish on my father's side, and I have a photo of my parents beside my computer, and they are always smiling, but sometimes moreso than other times like they are at this moment.I know. I know!

At this moment I am listening to the Irish Tenors sing 'The Holy City'. Amazing.

Let me share one anecdote though that came to mind. In 1935 at the 50th anniversary of St. John's Anglican Church in Chapleau, my grandfather was the choirmaster, my grandmother Edythe, and their daughter Elsie were in the choir, and my Mom was soloist. Mom sang 'Now the Day is Over'. I listened to it sung by the Hastings College Choir. Mom would have enjoyed it as she loved the sound of young peoples' voices.

Social media lets us reimagine human connectivity. We just have to collect metaphors and apply them to do so.. A  major highlight of my teaching career of more than 30 years was to be one of the founders of a graduate New Media Communications program at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook BC.  I taught my first Writing for New Media in 1994

At the swimming pool I was supposed to get some advice on getting rid of my noodle (metaphor there lol). but told Dane Ries I had to leave early to work on my column. Chatting briefly, Dane told me he had learned to play the drums by ear, and that is how my grandfather played too. Grandpa could not read one iota of  music. 

Dane is learning guitar by watching others play on Youtube cause he doesn't read music either. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!

I plan to continue celebrating Social Media with Peter, Paul and Mary; Pete Seeger and Daniel O'Donnell, working on reimagining human connectivity. Feel free to share how you are celebrating Social Media today Thanks Joel and Dane.. My email is mj.morris@liveca

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