In the 11 years that Catherine Brodie has directed the Agora Chorale, she has always made an effort to pick pieces with meaning.
She has chosen to combine two of their four concerts with the MCCC Symphonic Band, directed by Mark Felder, to show their support for the others programs and to merge their audiences.
This year, however, the concert transcends beyond normal music to honor the life of a former band member.
The joint performance of the band and choir performed a tribute to the life of Charles “Denne” Pease, a former oboe player in the band Oct. 28.
Pease died following the band’s 2019 spring concert season, which prompted the decisions of both Brodie and Felder to kick off the next year by using their first concert of the season to honor the memory of the lost musician.
During a recent choir rehearsal of “Peace Like a River,” Brodie said how it was amazing that Pease played his oboe well into his 80’s and how this piece represents what he hopes Pease has found after death: peace, joy and love.
Both the band and choir are comprised of MCCC students and Monroe County community members who are 16 and up.
Merribeth Mohn, a member of the choir and band, said rehearsals had featured joy behind the seriousness and that “everyone has put their heart into the music.”
The band performed its own special tribute to Pease by performing “A Quiet Courage,” which Mohn and John Moore, another member of the band and choir, said fits Denne perfectly.
When performing the piece, a spotlight will shine on the chair Pease used to sit in during performances and his oboe will be laying on the chair.
“Mr. Felder considered having his oboe lifted up by a rope during the piece, but then decided it would be too cheesy. Still, it’s a beautiful song, very moving,” Moore said.
Mohn said there is a beautiful oboe solo to honor Pease.
This will be the first concert Pease has missed since he joined the symphonic concert.
Mohn said even car trouble wouldn’t keep him from playing.
“I remember a concert that he arrived late, we’d already finished a couple songs and he comes in, not even wearing his tux and just sits down playing the rest of the concert,” Mohn said.
He was a solemn man who was dedicated to the band as well as his music.
Brodie said the concert was full of pieces for everyone to enjoy.
But, more importantly, it was about a man and celebrating his memory by doing the one thing he loved most: playing music.