story & photo
by Amy Pjura
It was a pleasure to attend the children’s rehearsal for the 41st Mystic Area Choir Festival on Saturday, March 21. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining bright and the sound of children singing filled the air. The rehearsal was split into groups depending on grade, so I was blessed to hear grades two thru five. Those kids are fantastic!
The festival took place on Sunday, March 22 at the Noank Baptist Church and featured children, youth and adults from local church choirs, as well as instrumentalists.
In 1968, The Mystic Children’s Choir Festival was the first festival of many more to come. Local people directed the first few festivals, and in 1971 they started inviting distinguished choral directors and composers from outside of the area to lead the festival.
Dr. Michael Bedford, an organist/choirmaster and composer-in-residence, came all the way from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma to direct this year’s festival. As well as his many commitments at St. John’s Episcopal Church, he is also the founder and CEO of Crescendo Press where he publishes his own sacred music. Specifically, he has published choral music for children’s, youth and adult choirs, and his enthusiasm and connection with the children during the rehearsal could clearly be seen. He was very energetic which helped the children feel the music that they were singing. Michael continuously praised the children for their job well done and expressed that they have a “wonderful sound.”