Conway notebook | Conway choir concert to be governed by well-educated wrists

With a flick of her wrist, Frances Sinclair can silence a whole group of college students, a talent she will no doubt use during Coastal Carolina University’s 13th Annual Holiday Concert Nov. 27 at Conway’s First United Methodist Church.

Sinclair, an associate professor at Coastal and director of choral activities, will direct the three university choirs through a repertoire of classical music and holiday favorites.

When she flicks her wrist, the choristers are supposed to take a breath or insert a break of silence into the music. Sinclair said directing is all in the hands.

She said a director can, for instance, shape the sound of a vowel to get a Yankee pronunciation of the word “sire” versus the southern pronunciation. Holding her hands in a horizontal position directs the choir to connect words and notes.

Sinclair said her rapport with the choirs is a key part of the success of a performance.

“The big part of my job is to make them realize they are artists,” she said.

She explained that it would be easy for those in a choir to underestimate the importance of their own contribution to the performance. Making them realize they are all artists is a way of emphasizing that each individual’s part is critical to the beauty of the whole.

Sinclair said she got into directing through playing the piano. She studied piano performance as an undergraduate at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She eventually conducted while she played and decided that wasn’t ideal. Also, she didn’t like the solitude of being alone in a practice room and realized she had an affinity for conduction.

She got a master’s degree in choral conducting from Florida State University and a doctorate of musical arts degree from University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The concert, which carries an admission charge of $3, will include musical accompaniment by members of the CCU percussion ensemble. The performance is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the university’s music department at 349-2637.

Light the lights

With the quaint factor of its historic downtown, Conway has never been shy about its celebrations of Christmas.

St. Luke Episcopal Church, for instance, holds an annual St. Nick’s Winterfest downtown to raise money for the charities it supports. Downtown merchants lend their windows one night to seasonal displays using live models.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that some of the city’s Christmas lights have been twinkling for more than a week.

Foster Hughes, the city’s director of parks, recreation and tourism, said the lights on the city’s arching bridge over the Waccamaw River and some others downtown were first turned on Nov. 10 so downtown merchants could kick off the holiday shopping season. The lighting coincided with a snowball drop downtown where the snowballs carried discounts and others treasures to be found at downtown stores.

Hughes emphasized that the lights downtown encompass just a part of the city’s holiday lighting. Others are strung along Wright Boulevard and Main Street to its intersection with Mill Pond Road. There are also lights in some of the city’s parks.

Hughes said those not yet lit will be turned on Nov. 29, when the city is to hold the lighting ceremony for its official Christmas tree in front of City Hall.