NEXUS recently performed in Toronto with the Toronto Children’s Chorus. The concert took place in the magnificent St. Anne’s Church, which was founded in 1862 and reconstructed in 1920 in the style of the Byzantine Revival. The church interior is decorated and painted with murals by artists who were members of Canada’s famous Group of Seven. The acoustics are absolutely fantastic for both the audience and performers, a rare dual achievement. I was energized by this concert, which was an afﬁrmation of the devotion of many who encourage young people to not only make music but to appreciate it. My guess is that not many of these young people will pursue a career in music but their involvement in the chorus will ensure a lifelong love of the arts. This is a huge organization with many wonderful conductors, organizers and participants. After several sub-groups of the larger chorus performed individually, NEXUS closed out the program with a few arrangements by Russell Hartenberger of the music of Moondog, one of which involved some of the older singers.
We then performed “Sky Ghost” by Russell with a larger group and ﬁnished the program with everyone performing an arrangement by my brother Rick Kvistad and Baird Hersey of “Amazing Grace.” I suspect that everyone in the audience had the same feeling of overwhelming joy that I had while hearing these angelic voices. All of the conductors were exceptional and it was clear they had the respect of these young people. The preparation for the concert was also exceptional. We rehearsed only a few hours before the concert with the groups since they were so well prepared. While I am dismayed that not enough music is being taught at early ages in our school systems, it’s great to know that after-school programs like this can be extremely successful. There are so many studies available to support the connection between artistic endeavors and learning. Singing, playing an instrument, drawing, painting and writing, to name a few, are so important to the development of our youth. It’s all about priorities. Can we straighten those out?