Music, like prayer, takes musician to another realm

Ginni Keith always loved music, she even majored in the oboe in college, but for 25 years music just evaporated from her life - she even sold all her instruments. But when she moved to Lopez everything changed. She joined the choir - and for the last 12 years she has immersed herself in sound, even adding a few instruments to her repertoire.

By Cali Bagby

Ginni Keith always loved music, she even majored in the oboe in college, but for 25 years music just evaporated from her life – she even sold all her instruments. But when she moved to Lopez everything changed. She joined the choir – and for the last 12 years she has immersed herself in sound, even adding a few instruments to her repertoire.

“Now I just can’t get enough,” she said. “I practice eight hours a day and if I get sick of playing one instrument I just move on to the next.”

In the upcoming show, Keith will be the soloist in Mozart’s “Exsultate, Jubilate,” featured in the Island Sinfonia concert March 25, 3:30 p.m. at Grace Church.

The concert, conducted by Ned Griffin, of Shaw Island, features a vast variety of composers, starting with the baroque period with Handel’s “Water Music” written for the King of England as he floated down the Thames on the royal barge. The concert will also feature works by Haydn, Schubert, Gershwin and Eric Satie, a French composer known for being colorful and eccentric. Keith said the concert will have something for everyone.

Keith, who plays the flutes, English horn, trumpet and double bass, has been a member of Sinfonia for about a dozen years. The orchestra has members from all four ferry-served islands and plays on those islands every year.

This year, the string section has been enhanced and energized by Orcas student musicians.  Mackie Blackburn, assistant concertmaster, is an Orcas High School senior and has been accepted into the music program at Western Washington University. Other students include Sasha Hagen, Brigid Ehrmantraut, Emy Carter, Anthony Kaskurs, Kendra Clifton and Michael Harlow.

“Some of us are nearly as accomplished as we’ll ever be,” said Sam Windsor, who plays the second bassoon part on his saxophone. “The success of our performance comes from wise selection of program, inspired direction, the huge contribution of Ginni’s golden soprano and the courage of the students to push their abilities into new ranges of expertise. I am just delighted to be allowed to participate in such company.”

And the musicians are dedicated. Sometimes, Keith has had to get up at 4 a.m. to make a ferry to be at a rehearsal on another island. For Keith that is a small sacrifice.

She said performing Mozart, Handel and other great composers is like prayer, it takes you to another realm between this world and Heaven.

“Music is a praise to God and that music brings us closer to God,” she said.

Keith performs at two church services each Sunday, but said you don’t have to be religious to enjoy the music she sings. Music brings people closer to any spiritual feeling, said Keith, who describes the music as holding a power that is eternal and new at the same time.

She is also drawn to music of the past for its complexity and is inspired by a time when computers and TV did not distract people.

“This music also reflects a sense of what their lives were like back then,” Keith said.

The earliest music that has been recorded was in medieval times, in a very harsh era, and even the lighter songs in the baroque and classical era have a certain depth and solemn tone, said Keith.

She does listen to contemporary composers like Arvo Part and Kryzstof Penderecki, who may not be mainstream, but she thinks their music is what will last in the longterm.

But Mozart and his song,“Exsultate, Jubilate,” written in 1773, is what gets her excited today.

“It’s not repetitive, it’s not predictable,” said Keith. “It’s beautiful and has that certain spark.”

There is no admission charge to the concerts although donations will be accepted.