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Director revered by choir members and admired by the community
by Elizabeth Reid

October 28, 2016
www.saugeentimes.com

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Jeanette and her husband Graham moved to Port Elgin in 1969. Little did we realize what an asset she would become for our community and the whole region.

While she was organist at the Port Elgin United Church, in 1974 she was approached by a choir member with the idea of forming a choir to celebrate the centennial of the town. Thus began the Port Elgin Centennial Singers. It was the beginning of something great. The choir continued under her direction for 10 years.

During the past many years she has taught at different schools in the area as well as being organist at many different churches. She also had many private music students, both youth and adults.

 She founded the Children's Festival Chorus around 1985 in which many of our children sang and were introduced to Classical Music and light opera. Later she founded the A Cappella Chamber Choir from which she is retiring after approx. 22 years.

As her Bio states she has made a significant contribution to many people in this area. A few of us have been with her for around 45 years and have gained greatly from her musical expertise and her wonderful spirit of generosity and friendship.

One member of the present A Cappella, Blaine Bell, says "Jeanette works her magic to push us to produce the beautiful sounds she knows we are capable of singing. She is such a kind, caring person who is always interested in our families and is the first to send cards and flowers in good or difficult times".

Another member, Michael Walke, was introduced to Jeanette around 1984-85 when he and Rod Coates would travel from Kincardine with Ruby Hamilton to sing with the Centennial singers. He remembers in particular the dramatic sweep of "Howells - Here is the little Door". He was hooked!!! He states that through that season, Choirs in Contact, and the marvel of A Cappella, Jeanette and his choral music friends have been central in his life. He states "What more could I ask?"

Rod Coates commented that, "Another of Jeanette’s gifts is her ability to present a variety of music al styles to audiences, and also to develop those choral programs best suited to challenge the skills and abilities of her singers in presenting to those audiences. As a singer, it is not always easy to become unilaterally emotionally attached to the music and be drawn into the spell woven by the composer. But a gifted conductor does not simply allow the music to speak from the score, but also draws the singers into the composer’s enchantment; when that happens, the audience cannot help but be captivated. Many times, looking out from my assigned spot in the choir, I have seen the look of enchantment on the spellbound faces of audience, and even noticed the odd tear on the cheek of someone moved by the beauteous collaboration of word and harmony".

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Jeanette has always selected the repertoire that her choirs have sung. She has asked for ideas but has had final say. What a wonderful knowledge of many types of music she possesses.

Her final concert with A Cappella is titled 'The Gift of Music'. We feel this sums up what Jeanette has given to we the singers and to the whole community. Several alumni are returning and will join us to sing a final song at the end of the program.  


 

Steeves recently awarded the Municipal Heritage Award


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Thursday, October 27, 2016