Borough mass choir, Renee Henderson appreciated

Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010

Elvis Costello said "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." I certainly understand those words as I try to give voice to my profound gratitude to a woman who has enhanced my community, my family, and my life --Renee C. Henderson, choir director of Kenai Central High School.

Sitting in the seats of the auditorium, so rightly named for this outstanding woman, last night and listening to 330 peninsula students from six high schools at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District mass choir concert, I was stuck by what an incredible opportunity these young people had to study with one of many world prominent musical professionals brought as guest conductor over the years largely because of the efforts of the world prominent musical professional of our own Ms, Henderson.

One of the most glorious aspects of the evening is that these young people not only took advantage of the opportunity they reveled in it. They smiled, swayed and radiated joy. Being in the audience was an aural pleasure, enhanced by the exhilaration of being a part of the communal experience with a packed house.

These kids are a part of a musical tradition in our community that has seen thousands of kids before them enjoy the opportunity and insights of musical scholarship brought to them so lovingly and joyously by this woman and her efforts.

I say these things from many seats in the auditorium over the years. Although I personally have never been a student of Renee's, my life is much richer because of her. I am a lifelong music lover but the first time I actually felt a physical response to musical expression was at a KCHS choir concert in 1980. The concert was a lead up to the choir's European tour later that year. As a sophomore "band geek," my original intentions for attending were to make an impression a girl I liked in the choir, but I received so much more as I listened to the harmonies and dynamics that only a well trained human choir can produce, an actual shiver ran up my spine, pretty impressive for a jaded 16-year-old boy.

Later that year, that same girl, had the experience of a lifetime touring and singing through Europe including the life changing experience of singing in the Notre Dame cathedral on Easter, the memory of which I have enjoyed many times with my wife, (that girl in the choir.)

Last year, our son, enjoyed his life changing tour, and experienced singing in the Vatican.

These experiences and the ones for all the kids in between, before and after have enhanced the lives of the one's lucky enough to have been there, as well as us who love them.

As a technical guy I understand the physics of sound. I get how sound waves move and frequencies have mathematical harmonics that in the audible range can sound pleasing and right. I understand that our affinity for rhythm is probably rooted in an unconscious comfort in our own heart beat.

But from the audience over the years I have been inspired to contemplate the universal human experience music provides, the expression of things so much more than technical and yet no less real or profound. Thomas Carlyle said "Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite."

Rene, thank you for the enhancing my community as observed from the auditorium seats over the years.

Thank you for enhancing my family, its experiences, love of music and understanding of world culture, from the periphery of those gifted with the direct experiences you provided.

Thank you for enhancing my personal life, for giving me the many opportunities contemplate from my seat the beauty of joy of your life's work and through listening the chance to reconnect with my personal proof of the Devine.

Scott M. Misner


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