Louise Rose re-works civil rights hymn for children’s choir
When children’s voices sing about freedom, it evokes an emotion no adult voice can.
So says Louise Rose, arranger, pianist, writer and ordained minister. She recently re-arranged the Oscar Peterson number “Hymn to Freedom,” writing it to suit young voices.
“It was a glorious challenge, because the Victoria Children’s Choir is a choir that does a particular kind of repertoire,” said Rose, 67. “Writing a piece that is really out of their comfort zone presents a real challenge for an arranger, particularly with this piece. It’s known around the world and it has had one arrangement forever.”
Peterson wrote the hymn at the height of the American civil rights movement. Rose, who studied piano under Peterson, said the hymn’s message of togetherness and understanding still has meaning today.
“It is representative to me of the kind of work we still have to do if we truly want to work together,” she said.
To mould the hymn’s sound to the voices of the kids, Rose added slightly awkward sounds, such as striking an A chord with a D note. The effect is a sound that’s well adapted to the young voices, she said. But the meaning goes deeper.
“The harmonies are close for a reason. In my understanding of separation, we need to be in places that are uncomfortable, and when we are uncomfortable, we come together,” she said.
The Victoria Children’s Choir is made up of about 70 children aged eight and older. The concert choir group of 36 will sing the hymn Monday night (May 30), as a local preview to a performance they are taking to stages overseas.
The concert choir will represent Canada on the World of Song tour through Austria, starting with a performance June 3 at Vienna’s Musikhochschule. They will also perform in a couple of old churches, the Ursulinenkirche in Linz and the Innsbrucker Dom in Innsbruck.
Rose will accompany the choir on piano during the preview concert, helping give audience members a taste of the Austrian tour repertoire.
The concert runs 7 to 9 p.m. at Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora Ave. Tickets are $20, available at www.victoria childrenschoir.ca/our-concerts.html.