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Marble Falls Church Choir Checks Off Bucket List with Carnegie Hall Show

The First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls choir is heading to Carnegie Hall in New York City, where they’ll perform Monday, Nov. 26. The choir is singing ‘The Winter Rose,’ a cantata by Joseph Martin, who will be conducting the show. Choir members are Joy Frear (front, left), Carolyn Furrh, Sara Hurston, Nancy Campbell, Grace Hughes, Marti Good, Joni Bedard, Mary Ann Fletcher, June Saint, Caryl Calsyn, Mike Cravey (back, left), Oscar Saint, Steve Gardner, Don Dudley, Mike McKeown and Dale Brown. Courtesy photo

Joni Bedard paused for a moment at the question of what it’s like to perform at Carnegie Hall. Her answer came in two words.

“Bucket list,” she said with a big grin.

On Nov. 26, Bedard and 17 members of the First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls choir will step up on the esteemed New York City venue stage — where the likes of Tchaikovsky and The Beatles have performed — and check it off all of their lists.

Excitement doesn’t describe how they feel at the opportunity.

“It’s a chance of a lifetime,” said Bedard, who is the church's music and choir director.

The Marble Falls choir members will join about 200 others from across the country over a five-day period to rehearse Joseph Martin’s “The Winter Rose” for a performance, Monday, Nov. 26. While a Monday night might not sound like a good time for a New York City show, Bedard pointed out that, across the city, almost all of the other theaters go “dark,” so Carnegie Hall becomes one of the best places for live entertainment.

“They tell us it gets packed,” Bedard said.

So how did a 17-member choir from Marble Falls land a spot at Carnegie Hall. Well, the old punchline is “practice, practice, practice,” which the group has done over the years.

The journey actually started last Christmas, when Bedard and the choir — along with an orchestra and dancers from Harmony School of Creative Arts — performed “The Winter Rose,” a cantata that combines music, narrative, and song to tell the story of Jesus “from prophecy to passion.”

Martin, the composer, is known for his choral pieces. “The Winter Rose” and “Appalachian Winter” are popular with performers.

“If you like (Handel’s) 'Messiah' and that type of music, that’s what you’ll find in ‘The Winter Rose,’” Bedard said.

The rose in “The Winter Rose” is Jesus, and the cantata tells his journey, weaving music, song, and spoken narrative.

“The words and the message are what drew me to it,” Bedard said.

She came across “The Winter Rose” not long after Martin released it in the early 2000s while attending a music workshop where the composer went through the cantata. Bedard and the Marble Falls church choir performed it during the Christmas season that year.

The music and message resonated with the congregation, choir members, and audiences. Over the past several years, people asked Bedard when they would do “The Winter Rose” again. Last Christmas season, the choir brought it back for its cantata.

As with most of the choir productions, Bedard posted this one to the church’s YouTube channel — with proper permission — then moved on to the next project. In March, a representative from Distinguished Concerts International New York City contacted Bedard after seeing the YouTube video and asked if she and the choir would be interested in performing “The Winter Rose” at Carnegie Hall under Martin’s direction.

Well, there was only one possible answer, and now she and the other members are getting ready for the performance. They’ll arrive in the Big Apple several days ahead of the scheduled performance and spend hours each day rehearsing. There, of course, will be time to take in a show and other things while in New York City.

“We’re all really excited about this chance,” Bedard said. “We’ll get to work with Joseph Martin but also with other choirs from around the country. I think there are some from Canada also.”

It’s a quick trip, but one she and the church choir wouldn’t want to miss.

Plus, they can put a “check” by “perform at Carnegie Hall” on their bucket lists.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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There are 1 comments.

Les F —
We at FUMC Dash Marble Falls are so fortunate to have Joni with us. We are honored that she chooses to serve Jesus Christ with us. She and Keith are in valuable disciples.
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