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Letters, Oct. 31

Helping our hearts to hear

The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers performed an exquisite concert on Sunday, Oct. 27, “She Walks in Beauty” at the SOU Music Recital Hall.

A gentleman sitting next to me, at the cusp of the appreciative standing ovation, whispered to me: “It doesn’t get better, but it just did!”

The Repertory Singers under Dr. Paul French’s warm and wise direction invariably lift the heart and inspire the soul. This time, perhaps due in part to the dismal political and social climate that pervades our culture, more than usual. It really did get better than better.

Among the wonderful selections — drawn from late Renaissance Spain to contemporary America — was “I Will Arise and Go” by Shawn Kirchner, an LA-based musician and composer.

The poem by William Butler Yeats sprang from a deep nostalgia that the Irish poet experienced while walking down Fleet Street in London — a yearning for his pastoral boyhood summers in Innisfree.

“I had still the ambition, formed in Sligo in my teens, of living in imitation of Thoreau on Innisfree, a little island in Lough Gill, and when walking through Fleet Street very homesick I heard a little tinkle of water and saw a fountain in a shop-window which balanced a little ball upon its jet, and began to remember lake water.”

Paul French, soulful and sonorous alto Shelly Cox-Thornhill, and the Repertory Singers, accompanied on the piano expertly by Jodi French, awakened in the audience the longing that Yeats himself felt: for a purer, better, simpler way of living and relating. We could “hear it in the deep heart’s core” (last line of Yeats’ poem).

For that transporting moment, our hearts could hear better.

Daniel Murphy

Ashland

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