Mennonite Heritage Village

Valuing Our Sound

Village News (April 18, 2019)

By Gary Dyck

Valuing Our Sound

At our AGM this month I introduced our new sound board by saying, ‘if you don’t like what you hear we can now turn it off wirelessly’, which I proceeded to do with my iPhone. Then, as I raised the volume I said, “Or, if you are hard of hearing we can easily raise the volume!” This is exactly what I did during a recent evening with the Vespers choir. I didn’t have to distract those around me by getting up from my chair, walking to the sound board and then back again. No, I just slipped out my phone, moved a dial so everyone could easily hear the emcee. Afterwards, someone remarked that it was the first time she could comfortably hear everything that was said. It was time to replace our ‘buzzy’ sound board.

Good sound climate is important. If it is too noisy or too quiet people cannot attend to the experience. Churches used to be built with high arches to lift the singing of the congregation or choir to another realm. Recently, churches have focused on dampening the sound so that young families can be comfortable and not have their sounds accentuated to everyone around them and to help the modern music flow better.

The Auditorium at Mennonite Heritage Village was built with high-vaulted ceilings in 1967 to house our artefacts and events. It looks and sounds amazing. Now couples love to have elegant weddings under its wooden arches. Last year we hosted 17 weddings; this year we already have 21 weddings booked!

Recently, we had a Hutterite choir sing for one of our events. After their first set, their conductor turned around to the audience and in disbelief said, ‘wow, we sound really good, what a wonderful building!’ That’s the power of architecture that elevates sound. We will have more beautiful choral music (directed by Ed and Millie Hildebrand) at our Russländer Tribute Fundraising Banquet May 26. If you come, I encourage you to close your eyes and let the music and words do their magic.

So, what is Mennonite music? Many cultures have folk dance and traditional music, but if I were to pinpoint it, I would have to simply say Mennonite music is strong voices sung in harmony. This is something we are good at in South-Eastern Manitoba and need to keep passing on to the next generation. This region’s choirs and singers have excelled in provincial festivals and on the international stage.

Enjoy the choirs around you, whether it be in a church, in a school or at a concert. If you are part of a choir, seize that natural opportunity for contemplation. As a choir member you get to play with words again and again and eventually they ring true in your heart and mind. I hope you have opportunity to enjoy a choir this Easter weekend. Happy Easter to you all!

Calendar of Events

April 17, Low German Teaser – 7:30pm

April 19, MHV closed for Good Friday

April 23, Volunteer Orientation – 7:30pm

April 26, MHV Auxiliary Fashion Show ‘Something Old, Something New’ – 7pm

May 1, Village Grounds and Livery Barn Restaurant open for the season

May 11, Manitoba Day celebrations

May 25, Russländer Tribute and Fundraiser Banquet – 4pm