Trinity United Church’s upcoming “Resonate” concert will be nothing like your typical church sing-a-long.
Arranged by the Elmira church’s music director Becky Reesor, the concert is largely interactive, and incorporates both classical and contemporary music, along with mixed media.
“Some of the music’s played interactively with the audience and some of it’s just performed. The audiences are given some activities to do during some of the music so they can interact with it and explore our walk in life a little bit,” said Reesor.
The concert will serve as the church fundraiser as well. Typically they do a talent and dessert night, but when Reesor brought the interactive concert idea to the church council, they were on board, said Randy Warren, church council member and finance and property chair.
“Becky is phenomenal and just added a whole new element to the church. People thoroughly enjoy her and love her music and her approach to everything. There’s a huge interest from the church congregation of attending the event and hearing her in a different setting, other than a church service, hearing her take on music and some of the stuff she’s doing is more jazz, which does not happen in a church service,” Warren said.
Reesor says she’s been interested in this kind of interactive concert for a long time. While completing her undergraduate piano degree in Winnipeg the students were encouraged to think about the significance about what they’re doing. As a piano player she challenges herself to see how she can get anybody to interact with music, regardless of what they know about music already. She followed up her degree with an interactive concert series.
“I just experimented with different ways of getting people to be able to awake their imaginations, to be inspired, or we talk about different issues with the music like peace or grief or even just the imagination in general, just different topics that can be explored when people are given some ways to listen to the music. It’s kind of like when someone looks at an art piece and even if they don’t know anything about art they can still feel like they’ve engaged with that art piece and they’ve got something from it or it sparks something in the conversation or the way they think about something in the world. Music can do the same thing but you have to find ways to give people tools to do that,” Reesor said.
Her concerts in Winnipeg included things like live painters and a lecture. At an interactive concert in Listowel last year she used an actor and a live painter.
And audience reaction has been positive. She says people are used to going to a recital hall to hear classical music and the most interaction they have is maybe some notes about the music in the program. By engaging with the audience it becomes like a choose your own adventure book, she explains.
“You choose the things that capture your attention and then the listener is free to latch on to whatever gets them and then they have a whole different type of experience that they wouldn’t have if they just sat and listened to the music,” Reesor said.
Of course, audience members are always welcome to just listen if that’s what suits them. She says she anticipates this type of concert going over well in Elmira.
“You hear a lot it’s nice to have some variety, have something different. So this is something that appeals to not only classical, but also folk and jazzy genres as well. My own compositions are more in that style, as well as some of the more interactive pieces I do are just songs that people already know and they can sing along with. That appeals to a wide range of people,” Reesor said.
Regardless of what anyone coming to the concert might believe she says it’s not a religious concert. Since she is a spiritual person it will be spiritually inspired though.
“During the time I have been at Trinity they have hosted numerous events that are not religious, but either do tap into a person’s spiritual side or are just for fun and fellowship. For example, last year we hosted a “Protest Coffeehouse,” bring and sing your favorite song about protest and justice, and there is an annual Christmas Bazaar featuring local artisans. We have open movie nights which have featured the Star Wars trilogy, prior to the release of the new episode, and the film Inside Out,” Reesor notes of the church’s openness to non-religious activities.
The church also does their monthly Community Can Dine “pay what you can” dinner and in April their praise band will be hosting a community Variety Show with all sorts of well known music from different genres.
She hopes when people leave they’ll feel like they’ve participated in something at least interesting, that they’ve been able to not just sit and listen but be a participant. She also hopes that something will spark their interest or imagination and they’ll be challenged and inspired by the music, as she has been.
Everyone is welcome to attend the concert.
“We’re opening it very wide up open up to the community,” Warren said.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have Becky with us and we think it would be great for the rest of the community to see her and hear her in concert.”
Elmira Trinity United Church presents Resonate – An Innovative Concert Experience with Becky Reesor on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. The concert will be followed by dessert and coffee. Tickets to the concert, including dessert and coffee, is on a pay what you can basis, with a recommended payment of $10 to $25. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the church office or at the door the day of the concert.