By Mary O’KEEFE
There are times when an audience is taken to another realm, when the world around them seems to stand still, and all sit in awe of the performance on stage. That moment happened on a recent Saturday when Daniel Chaney, Kirstin Fife and Connie Grisham took to the stage for a benefit concert at St. George’s Episcopal Church.
The concert was in honor of Deane Winant, a long time member of St. George’s Episcopal Church in La Cañada Flintridge, who recently passed away. Deane was a strong supporter of the church’s Red Shirt project. The project is a shared ministry coordinated with Rev. Robert Two Bulls, director of Indian Work for the Diocese of Minnesota, and Rev. Michael Cunningham, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Lompoc, Calif. Two Bulls is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe in South Dakota. Volunteers raise money and travel to the Red Shirt Village on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota where they work with the Red Shirt community on several projects, including helping to fill the school library with books.
The concert was titled “Violin and Voice,” a simple title for not so simple music.
Fife is a violinist who has performed with the Long Beach and New West symphonies. She has also recorded on numerous movie sound tracks and with recording artists. She has also recorded two CDs, Czechmate and Pieces of My Heart. She was a favorite artist of the Winant family, and said she was happy Deane was able to hear her second CD before he passed away.
Grisham has been the director of music/organist at St. George’s for over 20 years. She served the L.A. chapter of the American Guild of Organists in several capacities over the years.
Chaney is in his eighth season with the L.A. Master Chorale. He has appeared as featured tenor soloist with several orchestras including L.A. Chamber and the L.A. Philharmonic. He recently returned from a successful European tour with L.A. Master Chorale and L.A. Phil.
To have these three artists together on stage created a night that most would not forget. Chaney’s voice possesses a range that is impressive, but perhaps more importantly it embraces such strong emotion with every song performed, with every note sung.
“This song is special,” he said of the song “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables.
Chaney told the audience of his nephew’s wish to be a tenor, like his uncle. He sent Chaney a song to critique – that song was “Bring Him Home.”
He critiqued it and sent it back.
His nephew had enlisted in the military and a few days later, the 9/11 attacks occurred.
“And then he was deployed to Iraq,” Chaney said. “This song took on a whole new meaning … Our family was luckier than some others; my nephew came home safe but this song still has that meaning of coming home.”
With that emotional introduction, Chaney began to sing. The audience was collectively captured in his artistry and the meaning behind every word. At the end of the concert, the three received a standing ovation.
This concert was free; the only request was a donation to Red Shirt. At the end of the night, the trio had raised over $3,000 in honor of Deane and in support of Red Shirt.
For those who would like to experience a little bit of the concert, go to www.cvweekly.com and click on the video. And for those who would still like to donate to Red Shirt, send a check made payable to St. George’s with Red Shirt in the memo and mail to St. George’s Episcopal Church, 808 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada 91011.