“All of Us”: Amabile Choir to Hold Not One, But Two Spring Concerts this Coming Weekend

Former Islander Anne Pell, a well-known local pianist, jazz musician and music teacher who now lives in Italy, did Bainbridge and the Kitsap region a big favor nearly a dozen years ago when she decided to start a local singing group. She decided to call it Amabile Choir (pronounced ah-MAH-bi-lay), borrowed from the Italian word, which means “amiable, pleasant, or sweet, and can also be used as a direction in music to indicate a tender or gentle style,” according to Wiktionary.org. Over the next four years, Anne would grow the choir to almost 40 members, with performances at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Wyatt Way.

Amiable Choir
Enjoy Amiable Choir’s Three Concerts

When Anne decided to move to Italy in seven years ago, the choir turned to Sylvia Cauter, who, at the time, was the Director of the extremely successful choral music program at North Kitsap High School (NKHS) in Poulsbo, as well as choir director and accompanist at Bethany Lutheran Church on Bainbridge.  “I became interested in choral music early in my life thanks to my mother,” Cauter recalls. “I sang in my church’s children’s choir since the age of four and could be found conducting a children’s choir of dolls on the stairs of my home in Oakland, CA.”

Under Sylvia’s direction, the choir has grown in membership to 60 singers, become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, expanded Board participation and encouraged former students to join the choir. In addition to directing Amabile, she continues to direct the choir at Bethany Lutheran and sings in a local women’s a cappella group called Schola, which sings an Evensong service once a month at St. Barnabas.

Amabile is a multi-generational choir, with several husband-and-wife teams, and over the years, a varying number of grandmother-grandchild, mother-daughter and father-son pairs have participated, ranging in age from their twenties all the way through their seventies. The members come from all over Bainbridge Island and throughout the North Kitsap County communities. The music is described as mixed-voice, which Board and choir member, Nancy Garland explains as, “mixed voice in this context means SATB (a four-part harmony using soprano, alto, tenor and bass), i.e., not a treble or ‘women’s chorus’ or a bass choir or ‘men’s chorus.’” As noted on their website, “Many works in the repertoire are sung a cappella, with others accompanied by piano, organ, or small chamber instrument accompaniment.”

And the beat goes on. This coming weekend (April 12 and 13) Amabile will perform three concerts at two different venues in a show titled “All of Us.” On Friday, April 12, and Saturday April 13, the choir, along with special guests, North Kitsap High School group Vocal Point, directed by Julie Gallant will sing at 7:30 p.m., both nights at Bethany Lutheran Church, 7968 Finch Rd NE, on Bainbridge Island. Buy Tickets

On Saturday April 13, Amabile will perform at 2 p.m. at St. Cecilia Parish 1310 Madison Ave N, Bainbridge Island, with Special Guests Sakai Intermediate Choir directed by Katie Gibbs. Buy Tickets

Selections for the concerts will include Pederson’s “Soon We Will Be Done” and a small group is doing an a capella arrangement of “This Is My Song” (from Finlandia).  Attendees will also hear “raise-the-roof anthems,” including Shawn Kirchner’s “I’ll Be On My Way” and “All of Us” by Craig Hella Johnson from his cantata “Considering Matthew Shepard”. “You really must hear the soloists on “All of Us” – bring your hankies,” says member Melissa Weakly.

Over the years, Amabile Choir has collaborated with various singing groups and other local musicians. Last December, they were invited to perform holiday songs at the Jewel Box Theatre in Poulsbo, which Weakly described as a “one evening show, a cabaret-type event of singing, dancing, ugly sweater contest in their small venue.” In addition, they performed with the Olympic Serenade Trio (Priscilla Jones, Katherine Davies, and Justine Jeanotte) during their Winter 2022 concert.

Margaret Millmore, the former editor, publisher and owner of The Island Wanderer contributed to this story.

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