Barry Turner: Come hear some good holiday cheer with Sierra Master Chorale |

Barry Turner: Come hear some good holiday cheer with Sierra Master Chorale

The sheer power of music is never so apparent as it is at a choral concert.

There is an unexplained energy that is generated when, after months of rehearsals and work, a piece comes together perfectly before a full house.

It is not just felt by those performing, but by all those in attendance.

I have experienced this firsthand on stage with the Sierra Master Chorale, an 80-plus member auditioned choir here in Grass Valley. The holiday programs curated by Conductor Ken Hardin always offer the audience well-known Christmas classics alongside new discoveries that delight the audience and challenge the choir. The rehearsal that catapults the choristers onto a new elevated level is the first practice with the orchestra.

No matter how many times I have experienced that first practice with the orchestra phenomenon, that experience creates an exhilaration that is second only to the final piece of this musical puzzle. The final piece is the presence of a responsive audience. The receptive and familiar faces of the audience establish a palpable magic to the two performances.

Hardin has once again selected a program that captures the beauty of the holidays, as celebrated worldwide. From African to Bohemian carols, from Hanukkah to time-honored Christmas carols, there will be new discoveries and old favorites to savor the season this year.

If a choir has the ability to channel emotion and energy through song, it is due to excellent writing by the composer. There’s no better example than local composer Jerry Grant, who wrote, “Sing Songs of Joy,” for this program.

The piece begins like a music box, ethereal, serene. Through the orchestra and choir, Grant pulls the audience into a story through “Sing Songs of Joy.” The music moves from a beautiful lullaby to uplifting and dramatic. Grant writes so well that while we are singing, we are feeling the tranquility then passing it along through the music, enhancing the audiences experience as well.

It is obvious that Jerry Grant is graciously sharing some of his fame with us, and it is yet one more motivating factor that our musicians will use as incentive to rise to the occasion. His encouragement during rehearsals includes the unique and authentic advice that only the composer could possibly offer.

The rhythms Grant creates are different and difficult, keeping it interesting for both the choir and the audience. His compositions are thoughtful and always include elements of drama, probably due to his storied career as a musician and composer in Hollywood. Grant, who resides in Nevada County, has scored more than 500 television episodes and a half-dozen features. He has conducted film scores along with composing and conducting for jazz orchestras, along with many more accomplishments in the music industry. “Sing Songs of Joy” is Grant’s 12th choral work.

The Sierra Master Chorale is supported by a 28-member orchestra of professional local and regional musicians. If you have not already come to one of our concerts, I invite you to come see why so many people in Nevada County have made the holiday concert part of their annual tradition.

The Sierra Master Chorale and Orchestra will present the holiday concerts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. For more information about the concerts, go to

If you’re looking for good holiday cheer come hear us. Your presence is the last piece of the puzzle that will add magic to the performance.

Barry Turner, DMD, lives in Grass Valley.

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