June 10, 2013
by Sharon Planer, Pianist for Parties
When I received a phone call from a gentleman who needed a pianist to provide piano accompaniment for an opera singer from Albuquerque, I was immediately intrigued!
The event was a memorial service for the gentleman's mother. He lived in Albuquerque and his mother had spent the last several years of her life there as well. She had lived most of her adult life in a lovely home deep in the woods on the shores of one of Minnesota's beautiful lakes and the family wished to host her service in this beautiful setting!
A particular opera singer, Denise Wernly, had become a favorite performer of the mother and family while in Albuquerque. Denise was invited to come to Minnesota to perform for the memorial service....and to the family's delight, she agreed! She sent me her music ahead of time and arrived a day before the event giving us a chance to practice together.
The family put a lot of thought into the music choices. The service began with Bach/Gounod's 'Ave Maria' followed by 'Pie Jesu' from Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Requiem Mass'.
Denise's voice soared and the guests were touched with the emotion and beauty of the music.
The beautiful setting of the home reflected a place where many of the guests had spent time and had wonderful memories. Some of the guests shared their personal memories during the service.
'Silent Night' is not a typical song to be performed for a funeral or memorial service, but this song had particular importance and was the concluding piece.
The guests were then treated to some lighter musical fare with the beautiful melody of 'La Vie en Rose'. The atmosphere really came alive with some opera favorites . . . 'Voi che Sapete' from Mozart's 'The Marriage of Figaro' followed by 'Habanera' and 'Seguidilla' from Bizet's 'Carmen'.
It was a pleasure to provide piano accompaniment for Denise. I enjoyed her music and talent immensely! Her music and the thoughtful comments of the guests memories made this service a unique and beautiful celebration of a life of a special woman who will live on in the hearts of many.