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Elly on the Arts: More recollections on choir going international

"This is the last story in our retelling of the Flin Flon Community Choir’s magnificent trip to Manhattan in 2013 - though this happened not in New York City but in my beautiful Flin Flon and not in 2013, but in the spring of 2016."
C07 Elly on the Arts
The Flin Flon Community Choir, as seen at Lincoln Center during their trip to perform in New York in 2013.

This is the last story in our retelling of the Flin Flon Community Choir’s magnificent trip to Manhattan in 2013 - though this happened not in New York City but in my beautiful Flin Flon and not in 2013, but in the spring of 2016. Not much of a segue, we know, but it’s the best we have, so do please stick with us - it can only get better.

When we left you, we were still in Manhattan - at the Lincoln Centre to be specific, basking in the warm glow of an absolutely fabulous performance of Handel’s Messiah under the baton of maestro Jonathan Griffith. We say “glow” now, but it was cold standing out there in the plaza. We did get a great photo of the entire group before scooting off to the post-performance reception - well, some of us went to the party. This intrepid columnist had not yet begun the rounds of surgical interventions that left her pain free, so I was aching a bit and gave a party pass to Mike Spencer (accompanying the delightful alto Noelle Drimmie) and caught the train “home” to Harlem where we promptly shed our performance duds and got into our jammies. Feet up, wine in hand, TV on - we were quite content.

At around 8 p.m., our sweet sister Nancy (Spencer Johnson for some older readers who may remember her) arrived home with the indomitable Jean Giguere and her lovely husband Dennis in tow to announce, “We’re having a party!” and sure enough, hard on their heels came the maestro, still in his white tie and tails, accompanied by Bill Price, who had joined the FFCC from Toronto for the occasion. There was no time to change, as tearing around the apartment finding bowls for chips and dip seemed the only plausible response, with Jean setting the standard for what was or was not acceptable.

The rest of the house guests we were sharing with arrived in short order, along with Mark and Crystal Kolt and their family, some Hanson sisters and various other choristers. Tons of food mysteriously appeared, as well as copious amounts of wine and a good time was in full swing. We had not gotten over our abject fear of the maestro and were prepping in our head what we might say to him to wish him farewell after he so kindly made an appearance at our little soiree, but he didn’t leave.

It was a fine Flin Flon gathering but alas, we had no piano so we could not subject upper Manhattan to our usual sing-song. However, we were a little braggy about that and fairly insisted that if the non-northern guests wanted to hear us at our best (i.e. gathered around Mark Kolt’s piano) they must come to Flin Flon.

They did.

In the early part of 2016, the FFCC was invited back to New York to sing a lovely piece by Morten Lauridsen, this time in Carnegie Hall. Crystal Kolt worked her magic and somehow talked Dr. Griffith into making the trip to Flin Flon to have a somewhat-final rehearsal with the choir and then conduct them in a performance at the R.H. Channing Auditorium for all the town to see and hear, prior to their flying again to New York to perform with a new massed choir.

Dr. Griffith spent three days here, working with the FFCC and getting to know our community. He wasn’t scary at all, though we will confess to continuing to sing very softly in his presence. This time, we did have a piano for the after-show party at Johnny’s Social Club. Dr. Griffith sat at our table while the voices of the FFCC and the “regulars” at Johnny’s performed their most recent party pieces, several from Jesus Christ Superstar as we recall. He was totally impressed (and we can vouch for that.) He would not sing himself, but he did conduct the gathering through a round of Dona Nobis Pacem, which sounded wonderful with the wine.