Web posted Thursday, April 4, 2002

photo: entertainment

Mark Robinson conducts more than 200 singers and instrumentalists from around the Kenai Peninsula at a Homer rehearsal last weekend.
Photo by Carey James, Homer News

Requiem keeps family humming around the house

by Carey James
Staff Writer

In years past, a likely topic of conversation around the Kuhns' dinner table might have been sports or church activities.

These days, talk more often turns to Latin pronunciations and complicated classical music is hummed throughout the household.

Carlton Kuhns, his wife Lucy and teenage son Marcus are all singing in Mozart's "Requiem in D Minor," as part of a diverse 250-member Kenai Peninsula choir and orchestra. The Requiem will be performed Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Mariner Theatre as well as in Kenai at the Kenai Central High School auditorium at 2 p.m. Sunday. Marcus will also travel to New York City later this month with a group of Homer High students and adults to perform the Requiem at Carnegie Hall and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Though months of practices have been difficult at times, the family said singing together has been enriching, both individually and as a family.

photo: entertainment

The choir's bass section practices.
Photo by Carey James, Homer News

"We find ourselves singing Latin around the house," Carlton said, adding that while they enjoy some classical music, it has not been the family's most popular genre in the past. These days, however, they often play Mozart's final piece and Carlton and Lucy say they often practice the music together. "It's a form of real good relaxation, and we get to do it as a family."

The Kuhns family has spent an enormous amount of time singing this winter. Weekly rehearsals for Carlton and Lucy and daily practices at school for Marcus have been necessary for the group to work through the lengthy and complicated musical work written as a concert piece as well as a Catholic Mass for the dead.

When they first started, Carlton said, the choir would sing a couple of lines, then stop and fix errors, then continue through a few more lines.

"A lot of the work at first was very tedious and demanding," Carlton said.

photo: entertainment

The Kuhns family, Marcus, Carlton and Lucy, were all to sing in Saturdaypis Requiem performance in Homer.
Photo by Carey James, Homer News

Now, however, they say rehearsals are relaxing and rewarding.

"It's very enjoyable to be able to sing this type of music with such a large, talented group of people," Carlton said.

Marcus, a senior as comfortable on the football field as in a choir, was the first of the family to start practicing the piece with the school choir more than a year ago. The school first performed several movements and began practicing the entire work last fall, Marcus said. He said while some movements are still confusing, he can sing most of the Requiem without music now.

"You are going to have this thing memorized for the rest of your life," Carlton said to Marcus, laughing.

Since Marcus has been working with the Requiem longer than his parents, he often helps them with the Latin pronunciations and difficult portions of the music.

For Lucy, whose first language is Yupik, learning the Latin words has been a challenge, but one she said she has met with help from her family.

When the entire chorus and orchestra came together for the first time last month, the family was impressed to no end with how the many parts came together, due in large part to the unending efforts of Mark Robinson who organized the entire production. All three say Robinson has been an extraordinary teacher, missing little and inspiring many.

"Mark has the admiration of the whole group," Carlton said.

Tickets for Saturday's performance are $12 general admission, $10 for seniors, $7 for youths under 21 and $7 for parents of Homer High School choir members. Family rates are also available and tickets are on sale at Etude Music Studio and the Homer Bookstore.