Rob Laney, music instructor and director of choral activities at Weatherford College, is understandably biased when it comes to his students’ exciting musical performances. Given what he and his students have in store for the public in their spring concert next week, he has every right.
In what Laney describes as “a new kind of concert” in a short film he and his students produced for YouTube, the annual spring concert follows the traditional focus on pop music, but this time with a “twist.”
It’s based on alternative rock musician Beck Hanson’s “Song Reader,” a collection of 20 songs available only as sheet music; there are no actual recordings.
The free concert is scheduled Tuesday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Alkek Fine Arts Center Theatre.
“You have to sit down at the piano and read them yourself,” said Laney. “They are in the style of old Tin Pan Alley songs – heartbreak ballads, novelty songs. We will be performing vocal arrangements of 11 of those songs, accompanied by the choir themselves on piano, guitar, ukulele and iPad apps for that eclectic Beck sound.”
Laney visualizes the concert as a way to give back to the community. Funds from donations from an appreciative congregation at Acton United Methodist Church last December for the Parker County Community Choir’s performance of “Messiah,” which Laney directs, were used to buy the sheet music.
“In continuing this giving back to the community – ‘pay-it-forward,’ if you will – we have decided to give our April concert a new context by presenting the songs with a narrative reflecting the experience of a veteran coming home from war. The concert will be a tribute.”
One song, in particular, Laney said, speaks to a military mother’s loss of her son.
“We wanted to focus on the other songs that have to do with issues such as isolation and economic hardship along that same line. This is something I feel Weatherford College would do well to seize on, given our close relationship with veterans groups.”