Notes from the Valley
Compiled by Judy Wood
A couple of months ago Ken Walker, Sultan’s city administrator, called for a meeting. He was looking for people who would be interested in a new concept for encouraging positive growth for this area. It sounded like it would take a lot of research and study and there was a lady there who jumped at it.
Her name was Paula Thomas. I had seen her at several other gatherings around town, but I never saw her high intelligence and her extraordinary ability to organize until our next meeting, when she gave us a report on the progress of the project called “Boom Town.” Then all I could think was “Wow, she is perfect for this.”
So when Paula announced that she has qualified to become a member of the Choral for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, I was just “wowed” some more! Such a girl and such talent and intelligence to boot! Oh, did I say that she also has a part-time job?
Paula was born in Chicago, and raised in Normal, Illinois. She remembers her mother always singing around the house, so music was second nature to her. She was given piano lessons as a young girl but never progressed very far with it.
When Paula was in middle school, she entered a talent contest where she had to make her voice jump up from one set of notes to another, but for some reason it just didn’t work for her. She was very disappointed. After school she decided to study business at Illinois State University, but music was always there. She took music and voice lessons whenever she could scratch up enough money to pay for it.
She belonged to a choir that sang a cappella, meaning with no instrumental accompaniment; they were called “Aceppellago.” She was with them for quite a while. This was in the Chicago area, when she was a young lady.
Now, let me tell you what she has to do to pursue this hobby of hers. First of all, she has to be able to read a sheet of music, she has to know what key it is sung in, she has to know the melody by just seeing the notes on the paper, just as you would read a book, so she can pick up a sheet of music and sing.
Then come the lyrics. We all know that quite a lot of classical songs are in foreign languages. So when asked how many foreign languages Paula knows, she replied that you didn’t have to know the language, just learn to pronounce the word that goes with that note in the music score.
Then there is the challenge of pronunciation; do you say “aah” or “augh,” do you roll the R or do you just use the R sound? She said that that is up to the conductor. When Paula wants to sing for a chorale, she is expected to take the sheets of music home, learn it by herself and return for rehearsal knowing the whole piece.
So a singer has to put all of that together on stage, with their peers, and perform flawlessly. I just can’t imagine! I do know that I respect a classical singer a whole lot more than I did. They have to have a whole lot more than a pretty voice.
Paula came out here to be with one of her two sons and to turn over a new leaf. I am so glad she did.
Her soonest performances are the Bordin Polovtsian Dances, with Ludovic Morlot conducting. The Opening Night Gala will be Sunday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m., and the Day of Music will be Sept. 22.
Maxine Bruggman is so proud of her family; 138 of them came for the family reunion at Eagles Park last Saturday. Some of them came all the way from California . Maxine turned 83 yesterday; this has been her week!
Don’t forget the Sky Valley Senior Center Pancake Breakfast, Saturday, Sept. 7 from 8 a.m. to noon at 617 1st St. Everyone is invited for a great breakfast at a great price, just $5!