Help, Thanks, Wow: Cantabile Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary
Original work inspired by author Anne Lamott
For its 20th anniversary, the women of Cantabile, an Upper Valley women’s chorus, wanted something special to commemorate the event. And so they commissioned an original work to be performed at their annual spring concert. They began by contacting composer Philip Silvey.
Silvey drew on the words of writer Anne Lamott. Lamott is a well-known and best selling author whose works often include faith (religious but not too, and not always), practical wisdom, and humor. Unlike her millions of fans, I am not versed in her writings but I identified with her take on turning 68, which she posted recently on her Facebook page, in which she admitted that there are times, especially now, when “ . . .really, to use theological terms, it is just too frigging much.”
Silvey was inspired by one of Lamott’s books entitled “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.” As the title states, Lamott sees genuine prayer (as opposed to, in her words, “the pre-assembled . . . good china of prayers” often said by rote) as falling into three categories: a request for help, a statement of gratitude, and an expression of wonder. Silvey structured the 12-minute piece for Cantabile to include a section devoted to each of these three, plus a prelude and a final amen. He tells the story (click here to access the conversation) of how this piece started as an idea and became a finished work—lists of adjectives, scratched notes, computer software, red pens, Cantabile singers giving the nascent work a go and providing feedback.
Director Kathy Sherlock-Green further describes the interplay between Silvey’s final work and that of Lamott: “Bits of the text were pulled directly from the book; some in complete sentence form, some in the form of word play, and some translated into Latin. We were very lucky to receive official permission to use Ms. Lamott’s published text.”
Cantabile women's chorus, under Sherlock-Green’s direction, will perform its spring concert, Wow! 20 Years, with accompanist Jeanne Chambers. Concerts are at 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 4. 2022, at the Norwich Congregational Church in Norwich, VT, and 4:00 pm on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at the First Congregational Church in Lebanon, NH. In addition to the new commissioned work, the program also includes Vivaldi's Gloria, as well as pieces by Bach contemporary Francesco Durante, Hyun Kook, Dale Trumbore, and R.F.M. Mann.
For more information about the concert, COVID precautions, or to purchase tickets online, please visit www.CantabileWomen.org. Tickets will also be available at the door (cash or check only). Adults $15, Seniors $10, Students $5. Children 12 and under accompanied by an adult are free.
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Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.