Wings of Song
thirtieth-anniversary spring concert on May 2 (see Events).
Though Osterland has since moved on to become music director and organist at Detroit's Trinity Lutheran Church, he was the Ypsilanti Community Choir's "first accompanist thirty years ago," he recalls. "Denise Zellner was the founding director, and we had worked together at Musical Youth International and spent summers touring with high school students--which builds quite a bond, let me tell you!"
Ariel Toews-Ricotta has led the choir since Zellner's death in 2006. "They contacted me last year because I'd done an arrangement of the spiritual "Rise Up, Shepherd," and they asked to use it at their Christmas concert," explains Osterland. "I attended, and we got talking, and though we had not had any contact since the mid-eighties, we thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary with a new commission?'"
At first, he recalls, the group "didn't know exactly what they were after. I thought it might be appropriate to use local poetry, but I went through a lot of local poetry at the Ypsilanti District Library, and none of it grabbed me. While I was there, I got sidetracked to Ypsilanti's Willow Run bomber plant. It was such a huge thing."