Movie songs, prayer for Ukraine scheduled for MCCC Agora concert

The Agora Chorale will perform April 26 at Monroe County Community College.  Provided by Catherine Brodie

“A Night at the Movies,” the Agora Chorale’s spring concert, will feature a piece dedicated to the Ukrainian people when it premieres later this month.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on April 26 at the Meyer Theater, La-Z-Boy Center at Monroe County Community College, 1555 S. Raisinville Rd. Admission is free. The seats are limited.

“We will feature popular songs from films beginning in the 1930s through every decade in the 2000s,” said Catherine Brodie, director of Agora. “We’re going to go, mostly chronologically, through the decades.”

The program will feature a song dedicated to Ukraine. Additionally, this will be Brodie’s last gig with Agora, as she is retiring at the end of this semester. For his finale, Brodie invited his longtime friend Valinda Jonas to help him with the program.

“We invited Valinda Jonas to come and work on the choreography with the choir on a few songs. She is good at taking simple steps that look great and don’t interfere with the singing. Val and I have known each other since about 1989, when her daughter and my son, each about 10 years old at the time, were together in a children’s theater production, “The Wizard of Oz.” Later, Val and I participated in several musicals together through the Monroe Community Players. I am so honored that she is part of my last concert with Agora Chorale.

Among Jonas’ work is a choreographed dance for the song “Tonight” from the movie “Westside Story.”

“A Night at the Movies” will open with John Rutter’s play “A Ukrainian Prayer.”

“We’re going to sing this from the front balcony, ‘A Night at the Movies,’ so it gets the seriousness it needs before it transitions into fun and lightheartedness,” Brodie said.

Rutter of Britain recently made the piece available to all choirs.

“Mr. Rutter gave away the rights to his copyright so that any choir who wished to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine could use this piece for free. He asked to donate the money we would have paid for this coin to an organization that helps the people of Ukraine and said it would be enough payment for them. It’s an incredibly generous gesture because it would have brought in thousands of dollars,” Brodie said.

A member of the choir will be dressed for the theme of the film.

“The singers will not wear their traditional outfits. They will be dressed as if they were going to the cinema themselves with Agora Chorale T-shirts, blue jeans and sneakers. It will be a little more laid back than usual,” Brodie said.

Songs include “Tonight” from “West Side Story”; “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz”; “I Hate Men” from “Kiss Me Kate”; “Wouldn’t It Be In Love” from “My Fair Lady”; “I’m Still Up” from “Sing” and “Rocket Man”; “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story”; “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid”; “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman” and many others.

Soloists include Ellen Wannemacher, Laura Tibai, Maddy McCollum, Ron Burgard, Julie Jetts, Ashley Cilley, Maise Hoppe, Liam Brodie, Cody Kosanovich and Paige Smith.

Douglas Stewart has a flute solo on “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Elisabeth Brockman and Liam Brodie have a duet in “Think of Me” from “Phantom of the Opera”. Amanda Brockman will accompany on the piano.

Juliete Jefts, Savannah Hoffman and Cody Kosanovich perform a trio for “Do What You Gotta Do” from “Descendants 3.”

The last performance of the Agora Chorale of this school year will take place at the graduation ceremony of the MCCC.

“I’m so thrilled that kids who only graduated virtually as high schoolers will at least be able to earn their associate degrees in a formal, public setting,” Brodie said. “The choir will perform ‘Ad Astra’, which means ‘Reach for the Stars.'”

No director has yet been named for Brodie’s position.

“No one has replaced me as the new leader of the Agora Chorale yet. I will make myself available to welcome our new member of staff and help them with questions, concerns, a music library, etc.,” said Brody.

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