“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s a day you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.”
The goal of the Knoxville Handel Society (KHS) is to promote and preserve sacred music – with a primary focus to encourage participation by young students. My delightful visit with 15-year-old Katherine and her mother Maria and brother, Karl, corrected my misunderstanding of that purpose. It is not necessary to push young musicians to enjoy the great composers. It is simply our job to offer them an opportunity to respond to the joy that is already within them.
Katherine enthusiastically explained that she has been participating in choirs since she was a young girl. When she was seven, she attended a musical workshop for adults in Manchester, England. The director recommended her for membership in the North West Honour choir. Her time with that group, under the direction of Bob Chilcott, reinforced Katherine’s enthusiasm for singing choral music. From then on, as her family frequently relocated, she connected with classical choirs wherever they lived.
Katherine and her family believe that all children have special gifts. They are grateful that they have the opportunity to homeschool so that Katherine and Karl can follow their unique passions. When she was only two, Katherine sang, “God Bless America.” This prompted her mother to inquire about vocal lessons, only to learn that the teacher accepted students at a minimum age of 5. When the teacher heard a recording of Katherine singing, she accepted her as a student.
No one had to tell Katherine that she should enjoy classical choral music. When she was eight years old, she was playing hangman with her family and she chose the quote from J. S. Bach, “The chief end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
Katherine first learned about the Handel Society after seeing a concert announcement in a church bulletin. Knowing that Handel was a baroque composer, she was eager to check it out. Katherine exuded that baroque music is the genre that evokes the most passion for her, saying, “With Bach, when the choir is mentally present, it is so amazing. You live and breathe it!” She further explained that a choir should be experienced as only one voice for each musical part. Her cross-cultural experience taught her that choirs are welcoming, saying that they are confident as individuals, “but they don’t try to stick out.”
Like our co-founder, Dr. Don King, Katherine hopes to have a medical career, in her case, as a veterinarian. She expects to always include choral singing as a means of refreshment. She does not resent the time required to rehearse both on her own and with the group because she credits the challenge as being a means for providing discipline in her schedule and a sense of freedom in her soul. Her life reflects the admonition of Mrs. Thatcher that satisfaction comes from accomplishment.
Even though Katherine’s preferred choral music is baroque, she is enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn American spirituals for the KHS concert in the summer of 2020.
As her younger brother Karl explained, it is fun to learn the culture of an area from the music.