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Community Choir Sings Songs of Morning, Lullabies

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Yelm Community Choir1

The Yelm Community Choir rehearses for a concert in a past year.

The transition from night to day, from lullabies to waking, is what the Yelm Community Choir will emulate as it launches into its spring concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Emanuel Lutheran Church, 206 3rd St.

“This concert actually began with lullabies,” said choir director Warren Shaffer. “I have always wanted to do a concert of lullabies, but I don’t want to put people to sleep.”

Instead, he wants to explore a connection between a baby’s lulling into dreamland and the baby’s waking for a new day as the literary concept of an ending in night and a new beginning in day. More than that, he said he wants to explore the concept of babies’ half memories in the dusk of infanthood and their full memories as they come into the full day of their new lives and the memories that come with that transition.

“I worked very hard to give the concert, what I would call, a literary theme,” Shaffer said. “It’s very obvious that when we have babies they’re not really quite here. They’re sort of in an in-between world. They are obviously ours for a few hours, and then they are obviously not ours for a few hours.”

The lullaby we sing at night is supposed to prepare the baby for sleep. Just as a lullaby takes a baby to dreamland, the morning dawns and brings new life.

The concert will take on a similar theme.

“By the time we get through the concert, we proceed to songs about morning, and we draw a comparison between a literary analysis between dawn and dusk,” Shaffer said.

The concert title is “How I Got My Baby To Stop Crying,” featuring evening and morning songs about early childhood. Brahms’ “Lullaby,” Debussy’s “Clair de Lune,” Bing Crosby’s “Young At Heart” and McCartney’s “Golden Slumbers” are included.

The concert with feature soloists; including Renata Fell (piano), Anastasia Darrow (harp), Sherrie Lee, Cam Thompson, Erin Barnett, Robin Friend and Shaffer. Featured participants will be the audience, singing three lullabies.

The Yelm Community Choir was formed in 1997, and Shaffer took over its direction in 2014.

“The peculiar aspect of our community choir is that anyone can sing in it,” Shaffer said. “We don’t have auditions. Well, we do have auditions — we suggest to people that they come to a rehearsal and audition us.”

While the idea of letting everyone in can sound like a bit of a mess, Shaffer said that the choir is still able to produce beautiful music, even if half the members cannot sight read musical notes. 

However, there is one requirement for joining.

“They have to come and see if they are comfortable singing the type of music that we sing, which is often more complex than they are used to,” Shaffer said. “Not always, but anyone who is comfortable trying to keep up can stay. That’s probably the most important thing, really.”

The concert is a free public service for the Yelm community, Shaffer said, adding that he was excited to take on the themes present in his list of musical numbers.

“There is always this feeling, when dawn becomes day, that when this child fully settles into this life and is fully here, they forget that previous time period because they weren’t really quite here before. That’s the story of this concert,” he said.

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