‘Sticking’ to harmonies

Halina Harmonix begins new season with inspiration from Newfoundland

Music director Devon Muhlert leads a workshop on making “ugly sticks” in preparation for the fall season of the Halina Harmonix choir.

Most travelers to Newfoundland  fall in love with its eclectic traditions and kindly people.

Alex and Devon Muhlert are no exception, and Devon was agonizing out loud how she could incorporate its folk songs with her choir, Halina Harmonix.  That’s when her husband made a ludicrous suggestion. “Why don’t you have them make ugly sticks?”

She laughed. But why not?

“I’m always looking for new ways to make choir more fun and the music more accessible,” said Devon. “So, let’s make ugly sticks in the service of Newfoundland folk songs.”

An ugly stick is a pole (think upside mop) with nailed-on noise-makers. The mop already has “hair,” so all that’s needed is a tin-can face, and maybe a rakish hat, and a boot at the bottom. It’s like a scarecrow, except it’s not meant to scare anything off.  It’s a way of including non-instrumentalists in the partying group

While beachcombing on Newfoundland’s west coast, Muhlert found a wide array of items that had washed up with the seaweed.

“I saw lots of single boots, so I’m sure some of their mates became ugly sticks,” she said.  “Newfoundland is such a special place, it has a whole different atmosphere.”

The ugly stick making workshop will be held Sept. 7 at Caetani Cultural Centre,  as it’s now open to the community. Bring items that you didn’t know what to do with to use and to share. And please register ahead of time.

Halina Harmonix choir starts a new season Sept. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Halina Centre.  This year the emphasis is on having fun with simpler harmonies.  But a challenge or two won’t be neglected. The Rotary Club of Kalamalka Vernon has gifted the choir with a substantial grant for new music.

“The choir is so grateful.  Some of our music dated back 40 years. Well, old music is great too, of course, like Bach and others. But it’s nice to be updated too.”

Muhlert also tapped into Newfoundland inspiration, writing four new songs in two weeks.

“I look forward to our new season and to seeing people new to the choir,” she said.   “This group enjoys singing, and gives back by singing at seniors’ homes. It will be great to share new repertoire this year.”

Muhlert also begins the 2013-14 instrumental teaching sessions at her Ms. Music Studio on the Caetani grounds the first week in September.

For further information, call Devon at 542-3228 or Trixie at 545-7819.


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