BEMIDJI-It's road work season, and the Bemidji Chorale is doing its part.
The Chorale's annual spring concert, set for Sunday, May 19, at Bemidji State University's Beaux Arts Ballroom, is titled "A Choral Journey." The first half of the show will include songs like "The Road Not Taken" and "Walking Down That Glory Road."
Chorale director Pat Mason said the concert's theme follows the "what if?" questions asked in the poetry of Robert Frost.
"What if we had taken this path instead of that path?" Mason asked rhetorically. "How do we decide? This is all about a journey and how your life unfolds."
The second song in the concert, "Let's Begin Again," has a similar message.
"It asks about how many times we fall on our face and don't succeed at anything" Mason said. "You get up and you learn from it. If you have personality issues with people or relationships you go to them and say, 'Hey I'm sorry; let's start over again."
The last song before intermission, "Rollin' Down to Old Maui," has been arranged by Chorale bass singer Steve Reznecek and features the group's male singers, including eight soloists.
The second half of the concert will be mostly more lighthearted. It will include well-known songs like "Hava Nagila" and "Ain't Misbehavin" featuring a solo by Jim Dougherty.
"Pal Pa Haugen" is a nod to accompanist Wayne Hoff's Norwegian heritage. It's a song about a fellow who doesn't dare return home if the fox takes his chickens. "Songs Mein Grossmama Sang" is "a really messed up, fractured and skewed, almost English, not quite German treatment of familiar Mother Goose verses," according to Mason's program notes.
On a serious note, "Bashana Haba'ah" is a Jewish song written in 1970 after a group of school children were killed in a bus bombing. "The English translation is just 'Why can't our kids just go out and play in peace?'" Mason said.
The concert will begin and end with a tribute to Canadian pianist and jazz musician Oscar Peterson. As the audience arrives, Hoff will play instrumental piano transcriptions of Peterson's work, and the concert will conclude with Peterson's "Hymn To Freedom," with audience participation.
"Wayne has about a 10-minute piano transcription piece in the middle of it," Mason said. "When he's done I turn around to the audience and everybody sings."