By Cathy Johnson
What started 16 years ago with 16 members ended Saturday evening with a finale consisting of nearly 100 musicians performing Michael W. Smith’s “All Is Well.” Voca Lyrica presented its 16th annual holiday concert to a full house at Big Rapids High School. In a departure from past years when the concert was presented multiple times at the United Church of Big Rapids, Voca Lyrica and its founding director Ginny Kerwin broke with tradition and presented just a Saturday evening concert. The results were satisfying both to musicians and audience.
Kerwin called the concert “Voca Lyrica’s holiday gift to the Big Rapids community,” which has enthusiastically supported the group during its 16-year history. And though only 5 charter members of Voca Lyrica still remain with the group, this year the holiday concert roster numbered 46. College students to grandmothers, professionally trained singers and naturally gifted amateurs who simply love to sing, Voca Lyrica is truly like a village, one whose members rehearse not just at the United Church on a weekly basis, but also singly In ”planes, trains, and automobiles” with rehearsal tracks that are generated for each vocal part.
Perhaps the program notes can help explain: “What inspired Ginny Kerwin in 2001 to create Voca Lyrica? The voice of a woman singing. Listen closely. You will hear her past, her present and her future. You will hear her joy, her fear, her love, her pain and her hope. You will hear dedicated women, powerful advocates and faithful friends. The voices of women singing…..all joined together in a sisterhood, with the common bond of sharing our love for vocal music with our community.”
Singing in Voca Lyrica is a labor of love and the holiday concert is just one example of how that love is demonstrated. Ask any member of Voca Lyrica why she joined and the answers will differ. But at the roots of all the responses will be the idea that music matters, that it is part of our individual and collective soul.
“We sing because music is an integral part of who each of us is, whether our musical roots are in church choir singing, or our musical life was awakened and nurtured at our mother’s or father’s knee. We sing of our faith, our hope, and our love for God and for one another. We sing our sisterhood with all women, celebrating our strength and resilience, and rejoicing in the essential roles that women play in our ever-changing world. We sing our otherhood and the role that women play in the circle of life. Can you imagine a life without music? Neither can we. We sing because we are.”
Voca Lyrica is grateful to the Big Rapids community for its support of the choir and its outreach through vocal music scholarships and the Big Rapids Youth Choir.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Big Rapids, the faithful friends who are dear to us, and gathered to hear us in concert. And for you and yours, we hope All Is Well for the New Year.