Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ode to my Musical Youth (and my Father)


I was reminded of my musical youth this weekend while driving to Kingston for the day. Listening to CBC Radio One and Handel’s Messiah, typically performed during the Christmas season, though was playing. This was different as featured on “Ideas in the Afternoon” CBC’s Robert Harris and Ivan Taurins, co-founder of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir (and had conducted “the Messiah” over 200 hundred times) revealed the genius of Handel and the secrets of the composition.

A musical disclosure, I play the guitar, poorly but with practice would make it to beginner. I cannot carry a tune. I whistle off key. I tried to play the trumpet in high school but there were already enough trumpet players in class. I could not get a handle on the Trombone. Tried the Tuba but it was too big to take home so settled on playing the Baritone for two years in High School. I also almost mastered the Ukulele. Saying I played the recorder goes without saying, as everyone HAD to play the recorder at some point in school.

But, I can catch a musical hook, have generally good and diverse taste in music and can listen to almost any type of music and come up with at least one good thing about the piece I was listening to.

I can trace all this back to my youth, listening to my father play the organ at home and when the radio would be tuned to the classics. Though most would not know of this show, Dad always had “Hymn Sing” turned on the TV Sunday afternoons and we would watch choirs sing while the words rolled along the bottom of the screen, of course Dad sang along. Hymn Sing aired on the CBC from 1965 for 30 years, I can’t remember my father’s reaction to the show being cancelled in 1995, it was a staple in our household for as long as we owned a TV.

I do not recall a day when I was in church and Dad was not in the choir, even this year when I attended church over Christmas, Dad – and Mom – were singing in the choir. Mom joined the choir when there were no more kids to sit with in the congregations. The choir is key to their social life and the youthfulness of their lives now.

To this day Dad does one or two solos a year in church, and though his singing voice may give away his almost 88 years – he still sings with more passion and enthusiasm than most half his age. I would venture a guess that he still feels he is 50 years younger than he really is when he sings and plays.

Because of Dad’s love of religious/choral music I have a place for it on my iPod or in the car or when today’s music just won’t calm me down. When I hear Handel’s Messiah, Stainers’s Crucifixion, even Gregorian Chants and anything that features the Mormon Tabernacle Choir I go back and hear the music of my youth and the music that gave me the ears for listening to the nuances and melodies of some the finest music ever made.


If you are now intrigued about Handel’s Messiah, you can listen to the Harris and Taurins here:, then you can listen to the entire composition without the commentary feeling that much more enriched.

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