Island Singers delight audiences with the ridiculous and sublime

MINDEMOYA—The Island Singers had another classic performance on May 3 at the Mindemoya Missionary Church. Titled ‘Sublime and Ridiculous,’ the group entertained with songs both funny and familiar as well as inspirational under the direction of Dorothy Anstice and guest conductor Ian Sadler of Stratford.

Ms. Anstice chose the songs for this spring recital and said that she selected music that was challenging and rewarding and that the singers would perform to a high standard. “We are very fortunate to have the fabulous talent of Holly Scott at the piano,” Ms. Anstice added. “She is our accompanist.”

Ms. Anstice also talked about Mr. Sadler. “Ian is an organist and has done organ recitals before and is our guest conductor,” she said. “So now he is a friend of the choir.”

Mr. Sadler has a very intensive musical background as outlined in the choir’s handout. He started as a boy chorister, won a music scholarship to the Kings College, won an organ scholarship to Bristol University, held the organ scholarship at St. Paul’s Cathedral and holds many degrees in musicology and education. Mr. Saddler’s final engagement in the UK was to play the organ in the movie ‘Chariots of Fire.’

Now settled in Ontario, Mr. Sadler is the artistic director of the Stratford concert choir and is the director of the Cathedral Singers of Ontario. He performs solo recitals in Canada and around the world as a concert organist. He has received the Honourary Fellowship, the highest award of The Royal Canadian College of Organists.

Mr. Sadler talked about his trips to Manitoulin and remarked that the drive down Highway 6 reminded him of the Lake District of England. “I have been coming up since 1999 to do the organ recital at St. Francis when they had a new organ,” he told the audience. “I would do presentations with my wife, Catharine, for school children at several locations. At St. Francis, we did Peter and the Wolf. Catharine would narrate the story and I would play the Prokofiev score. Since then, I have been up several times to work with the choir. I have really enjoyed working with the choir in the past and that is particularly true with this. The choir really enjoys singing and the programs that they present are always full of variety.”

And indeed, the songs did show a musical range. “As you can see, we have started with the ridiculous,” Ms. Anstice said as the choir finished singing about poor old Michael Finnegan from Finnegan’s Fugue arranged by Frederick Silver. An Irish traditional song, ‘Hi! Ho! The Rattlin’ Bog,’ followed, complete with Sharon Ferguson on a whistle. This in turn led to the singing of six songs about animals including ‘Counterpoint of the Animals’ with barks, meows, howling and other sounds to the amusement of the audience. Chris Theijsmeijer had everyone enthralled with his solo rendition of ‘The Gnu,’ followed by ‘I Bought Me a Cat’ by Lydia Flanagan and Ann-Marie Scott and soloist Karen Doughty with ‘The Warthog.’

The second half of the program showed Mr. Sadler as the conductor as he directed the choir in the singing of ‘Ave Maria,’ ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ and ‘Missa Festiva’ as well as a solo performance of ‘Pie Jesu’ from Requiem by Heather Theijsmeijer.

The Island Singers choir was established in 1990 and numbers 23 singers. The group performs a Christmas concert in Mindemoya and Little Current and a spring concert in Mindemoya and has been invited to sing in Sudbury and Espanola. The choir welcomes new members and more information can be found by calling Dorothy at 705-859-3925

by Betty Bardswich