Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


March 24, 2014

Pleasant Hill Ramblings: Ching to perform in Pleasant Hill

CROSSVILLE — Michael Ching is a composer, conductor, songwriter and arts administrator who has worked primarily in opera. From 1992 to 2010, he was artistic director of Opera Memphis. He is currently the music director of Nickel City Opera in Buffalo, NY, and the chair of the board of the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera in New York.

Ching's most recent show “Speed Dating Tonight!” had its premiere this past summer at the Janiec Opera at the Brevard Music Center. His best known work, “Buoso's Ghost,” is being performed this season at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ching has participated in the ASCAP Songwriting workshop in Nashville and written several operas with Nashville songwriter Hugh Mofffatt. At Opera Memphis, he co-commissioned and orchestrated Mike Reid and Sarah Schlesinger's opera, “Different Fields,” and conducted the premiere of Marcus Hummon's “Surrender Road” at the Nashville Opera. Michael now lives with his wife and daughter in Ames, IA.

Maestro Ching will premier "The Call," a joint choir composition commissioned by Uplands to celebrate the heritage and contributions of the founder of Uplands Village, Dr. May Cravath Wharton at a magnificent evening of choral music, titled “Joyful Jubilee,” featuring more than 200 voices on March 29 at 7:30 p.m. on the mainstage of the Cumberland County Playhouse. Impresario and soprano Brenda Frye has conceived and developed the “Jubilee,” along with Playhouse star and Broadway touring veteran Weslie Webster.

On Friday evening, March 28, at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Pleasant Hill Community Church, UCC, everyone will have an opportunity to meet Ching and learn what goes into song composition. Titled "Music: A Composer's Viewpoint," the program is being jointly sponsored by the Shalom Center for Continuing Education, Uplands Village and the music committee of the Pleasant Hill Community Church. Frye will sing an aria from Tosca that she worked on with Ching when he was the artistic director of Opera Memphis. The talk is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the church fellowship hall. Pleasant Hill Community Church is on Church St. across from the Pleasant Hill Elementary School. 

Dr. May Cravath Wharton was the founder of Uplands, the Cumberland Mountain Sanatorium in Pleasant Hill the predecessor of the Cumberland County Medical Center in Crossville. The retirement community, Uplands Village, had its beginnings in the area surrounding the sanatorium in Pleasant Hill. Dr. May’s inspiration for the name “Uplands” came when she read a poem titled “The Call” written by James G. Clark on the wall of her cousin’s office in New York City in 1921. Part of the poem expressed:

“From the lowland and the mire,

From the mists of earth’s desire,

From the vain pursuit of pelf,

From the attitude of self,

Come up higher, Come up higher.”

She felt that the poem caught the feeling of the little group she had assembled in Pleasant Hill to form a hospital. In her book, Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands, she wrote, “How could we express something of this idea in naming our hospital? Up from the lowlands... Uplands! That was our name, Uplands!” 

Uplands has morphed over the years from a sanatorium, a general hospital with several outbuildings, a few scattered retirement cottages with a nursing home into what is today known as Uplands Village, a continuing care retirement facility with independent homes, condos and apartments, an assisted care facility and four Eden Alternative homes.

This week in Pleasant Hill:

• Wednesday and Friday — Free tax preparation at the Pleasant Hill Community House. Call 277-3096 for an appointment. 

• Saturday, March 29, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. — Creative dance organizational meeting at Earth Heart Center, 44 East Main St., in Pleasant Hill. Call 287-2826 or 248-3165.

• Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m — Bag sale at The Grab thrift store, 1944 West Main St. Call 287-3018.

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