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Local arts groups collaborate to bring masterwork to the PAC

Posted on by newVoices

Concert is a reunion for one area family

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana has become a classic for musicians and audiences because of its percussive music, hypnotic melodies, lilting passages and all-out, robust orchestration. On Saturday, May 3, more than 200 regional musicians will collaborate to present this classical masterwork in live performance at the Fox Cities PAC.

The rowdy subject matter is set to some of the most beautiful melodies in classical musical literature. The Carmina were songs of medieval traveling students and ex-monks who left universities and monasteries to pursue a roaring life of gambling, drinking and making love. The texts of the songs were discovered in a Bavarian monastery near Munich in the early 20th-century and are a mixture of 13th-century Latin and “low” German. The songs in the Carmina cover a range of topics, as familiar then as they are today: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.

The performance culminates the Fox Valley Symphony’s season and is a favorite of Music Director Brian Groner. “There is something wonderfully primal about the text and the music of Carmina Burana,” Groner said. “When it speaks of power it is bold and over the top aggressive; when it talks of love it is either bawdy or exquisitely tender.”

According to newVoices Artistic Director, Phillip Swan, the masterwork is a welcome collaboration with the symphony. “Choral/orchestral collaborations provide a cross-pollination of musical interests,” Swan said. “Consequently, it’s good for the community to have arts organizations working together to put on quality productions.”

For singers & instrumentalists alike, Carmina Burana is a musical challenge because of the range of emotions needed to interpret the composer’s music. One movement requires repetitive, full-voiced singing and playing while the next movement requires a gentle, lyrical approach.

“It takes an unusual amount of concentration to maintain the rhythmic intensity Orff demands in the score, and because it is repetitive it can be physically challenging,” Groner said. “It’s a big sing,” Swan said. “The melodies are present an extreme of emotional singing requiring consistent vocal technique as well as artistic interpretation.”

Singers in the Lawrence Academy of Music Capriccio Girl Choir in grades 5-7 are excited for the opportunity to sing with a full orchestra, professional soloists (one of whom is a girl choir alumna), and an adult choir. “The girls are learning to listen to how their part fits into the other vocal and symphonic parts,” said Director of the Lawrence Academy of Music, Karen Bruno. “Singing with an orchestra allows them the opportunity to hear different timbres with their ‘accompaniment.’ The girls are used to hearing only the piano, with occasionally one other string or wind instrument, while they sing.”

A FAMILY AFFAIR

For the Hodges family, the performance will be a reunion. Father Mike Hodges is a founding member of newVoices where he sings with his son, Jeremy. Daughter Jennifer Hodges Bryan is an oboist with the symphony and brother Jonathan is a cellist. The family shares a long history of music and fostering musical development.

“We gave our kids outlets for enjoying music,” Mike Hodges said. “They all started in violin and in time gravitated toward their own choice of instrument,” he said. His wife, Donna, drove the kids to lessons at the Lawrence Academy of Music and checked their practice progress.

Jeremy Hodges says the opportunity to perform together is a normal part of a musical family. “But in the end it does have a special personal meaning: the people I care most about are with me and sharing the fun,” he said.

His father agrees. “I get such enjoyment from performing and to be able to have them on stage with me doubles the enjoyment. There is a sense of pride in watching their accomplishments,” Mike Hodges said.

Jonathan Hodges says the different roles family members play allows for unique perspectives. “I am more toward the front of the stage, Jennifer is in the middle, my father and Jeremy are toward the back and my mother is out in the audience. Every spot does sound quite different and can expose different aspects of the performance,” he said.

Family members are continuing the tradition as Jennifer Hodges Bryan has her three daughters enrolled in music lessons. “Having them learn an instrument and involved in music is something that I really wanted for them because I think there are several benefits to a child’s development when they are involved in music,” she said.

HEAR IT LIVE

Both conductors urge area residents to experience the work live, rather than listening to recordings.

“You can’t reproduce the sound of 200 musicians live by putting it in a little speaker and expect it to sound the same. Hearing this music live is worth unplugging,” Swan said.

“Some of the greatest pieces of western civilization’s art music combine the forces of chorus and orchestra,” Groner said. “There is a power in them that is greater than each standing alone.”

Concert information is:

CARMINA BURANA
MAY 3, 7:30 p.m., Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra
newVoices choir
Lawrence Academy of Music Capriccio Girl Choir
Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is an enduring audience favorite, and one of the most recognizable pieces of music ever written for orchestra, chorus and soloists.

Soprano soloist Alisa Jordheim ; tenor soloist Steven Paul Spears ; baritone soloist Chad Sloan

For ticket information, please visit www.foxvalleysymphony.com or phone 920-730-3769

Carmina Burana: the translation

Posted on by newVoices

NEW-4-a2z-WHC_2012-Mar_021-copyThe infatuation with Carmina Burana can largely be attributed to the text. Although we will be singing in Latin and old versions of German, you can find the entertaining translation at this link.

There were almost 200 poems in the entire Carmina collection which are classified into categories that are: moralistic and satirical; love songs and songs celebrating spring; songs connected with drinking and gambling.

And who doesn’t love a naughty song?  No matter how much things change they stay the same: the topics in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries still resonate today. Wandering scholars went from town to town and weren’t too concerned with conventional society of the time–nor were they concerned with offending people. The poetry was written to be shared immediately, to rail against some current offense, and chiefly to entertain.

So if you see us singing with a wink and a nudge, it’s because we understand the text!

Carmina Burana: You’ve heard that song before

Posted on by newVoices

carmina buranaPlease join us on Saturday, May 3 when we perform Carmina Burana with the Fox Valley Symphony. Tickets are available through the Fox Cities PAC box office by calling the PAC box office or by purchasing tickets online at www.foxcitiespac.org.

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana has become a classic for musicians and audiences because of its percussive music, hypnotic melodies, lilting passages and all-out, smash-mouth, robust orchestration. The rowdy subject matter is set to some of the most beautiful melodies in classical choral literature.

The Carmina were songs of medieval traveling students and ex-monks who left universities and monasteries to pursue a roaring life of gambling, drinking and making love. The texts of the songs were discovered in a Bavarian monastery near Munich in the early 20th-century and are a mixture of 13th-century Latin and “low” German. The songs in the Carmina cover a range of topics, as familiar then as they are today: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the ephemeral nature of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.

According to newVoices Artistic Director, Phillip Swan, the masterwork is a welcome collaboration with the symphony. “Choral/orchestral collaborations provide a cross-pollination of musical interests,” Swan said. “Consequently, it’s good for the community to have arts organizations working together to put on quality productions.”

For singers, Carmina Burana is a vocal challenge because of the range of emotions needed to interpret the composer’s music. One movement requires percussive, full-voiced singing while the next movement requires gentle, lyrical singing. In order for a singer to navigate the demands of each movement, it requires constant breath support and precise vocal technique.

And it’s a big sing. The chorus sings in almost every movement, which requires what we call “smart singing.” It’s very easy to over-sing in some sections causing hoarseness, pitch problems and less than lovely tone later in the piece.

“It’s like running a marathon at full speed the whole time,” said Dan Van Sickle, baritone.  “Even the slow and gentle movements have an edge to them – you can’t let down,” he said.

Another challenge for singers is the language. Although we are trained to sing in foreign languages, Orff uses a historical text in middle high German and Latin. That means passages that look like modern German require a different pronunciation characteristic of only this work.

“The challenge is remembering exactly how the conductor will want it sung, knowing that many recordings you might sing along with are not what’s desired,” said Maggie Allen, soprano. “The first time I performed it (from memory) was in traditional Latin and German, not the “old” languages we are doing for this performance.”

The piece also features three solo roles. Lawrence graduate Alisa Jordheim will sing the soprano role which requires extremely high notes in one of the arias. Lawrence voice professor Steven Paul Spears will sing a tenor aria, which must be sung almost completely in falsetto to demonstrate the suffering of the character (in this case, a roasting swan). Chad Sloan will sing the baritone role which features demanding high notes not commonly found in baritone repertoire.

Finally, we will be joined by the Lawrence Arts Academy of Music Capriccio Girl Choir for this performance. This choir is conducted by Jaclyn Kottman who also sings with newVoices.

newVoices YouTube channel is ON!

Posted on by newVoices

nv cabaret hi resSo many of our audience members have asked for videos and we have them! Please visit our newVoices YouTube channel at this link. We’ll have to be a little flexible because naming conventions won’t allow us to present our name as newVoices—you’ll have to call us New Voices on YouTube.

We’re giving a huge shout out of thanks to board member Jim Weiland for being our videographer during concerts. Another thank you to the team at Image Studios in Appleton, WI. Their generosity to arts groups is unparalleled and we thank them for donating editing.

We’ll try to update concert videos as quickly as possible. For now, please enjoy videos from our fall concert “Sing for Life!” and from “Christmas at the Chapel.” We’re busy editing videos from our Cabaret fundraiser, “Falling in Love.”

Be resolved: support the arts!

Posted on by newVoices
Emily Been, Abby & Andy Schmidt and Mike Bryan at Christmas Caroling at Festival Foods. Festival Foods sponsored our 2013 Christmas at the Chapel concert.

Emily Been, Abby & Andy Schmidt and Mike Bryan at Christmas Caroling at Festival Foods. Festival Foods sponsored our 2013 Christmas at the Chapel concert.

The #1 New Year’s Resolution: lose weight. Our #1 New Year’s Resolution: support the local arts.

When you support the local arts (like newVoices) you are investing in organizations that create programming specific to the local community. At newVoices, we tailor every season to the needs and likes of Northeast Wisconsin. We pay attention to the results of the regional L.I.F.E. Study and try to fill the gaps in our community by using vocal music to create community and build relationships.

When you support the local arts (like newVoices) you are investing in the musical activities of your neighbors. Our conductors and singers are the people who teach your kids, who lead your church music programs, who provide individual music lessons. They are also lawyers, business owners, office workers, and moms and dads just like you. Your support provides people in our community with a creative outlet and they, in turn, give back to you in performances.

We are quick to cite our “vibrant cultural life” as one reason we live and work in this area. At newVoices, we are proud to be counted among the arts groups that give color and richness to the community. However, our financial success depends solely on individual contributions—we are funded only by donations, business sponsorships and some grants.

As you consider how you will mark 2014, please consider supporting the local arts either through a financial donation or a donation of your time. Consider some of these ways to help newVoices:

  • $50 will cover purchasing one piece of music for a portion of the ensemble.
  • $75 will help us pay for a portion of one instrumentalist during a concert.
  • $100 will sponsor a singer. This will help us directly underwrite the costs of music for one singer for a season. Your sponsorship would make a wonderful birthday or holiday gift for one of our singers!

Thanks for your past support and be resolved to continue it in 2014!

Girl choir joins newVoices for “A Ceremony of Carols”

Posted on by newVoices

Guest Blogger: Karen Bruno, Director of the Lawrence Academy of Music and Artistic Director of Girl Choir program

Lawrence Academy of Music Bel Canto Girl ChoirThe Bel Canto choir of the Lawrence Academy Girl Choir Program, the only non-profit girl choir program in the Fox Valley, is thrilled to sing with newVoices this December. Bel Canto singers are in grades 10-12 and come from a large number of Fox Valley public, parochial, and home schools. In fact, many of their choir teachers will be on stage with newVoices! Bel Canto rehearses once per week during the academic year and prepares multiple concert programs each semester. As 2013 is the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth, we are pleased to sing his master work, A Ceremony of Carols, on this program.  Choirs and orchestras around the globe have been celebrating the centennial by performing Britten’s music; we are pleased to join them!

While traveling by ship from America to Great Britain in 1942, Britten discovered a book of medieval poems that became the basis for A Ceremony of Carols.  Nine poems, a plainchant antiphon, and a harp interlude based on the antiphon comprise the work. The eleven short movements feature women’s choir, soloists, and harp. Not only did Britten compose the work for women’s voices, he selected many poems that are about Mary, or that feature Mary’s role in the annunciation and birth of Jesus. In few Christmas songs or texts is Mary’s role lifted up so visibly. Over the course of the 20th century,  A Ceremony of Carols became standard repertoire for women’s choirs.

The Lawrence Academy Girl Choir program performs this work in its entirety every six years; this is the first opportunity we have had to perform it on another organization’s concert. We are grateful to newVoices conductor Phillip Swan and executive director Jeanne Kurka Reimer for inviting us to be part of this special Christmas program. We are thrilled to share A Ceremony of Carols with the wider community and look forward to hearing newVoices sing additional Christmas classics.

Christmas at the Chapel program announced

Posted on by newVoices

WHC_2012-Dec_015There is nothing quite like Christmas celebrated in the Lawrence University Chapel—and we hope you and your entire family join us for this year’s Christmas at the Chapel. Several years ago, we decided to create a completely sacred program to celebrate the birth of our Savior. As a result, our concert has become one of the most popular Christmas programs in the region.

Our program features well-known carols and songs and gives audience members the chance to join in with several audience sing-alongs. This year, Artistic Director Phillip Swan selected pieces with a nod to England. Selections such as “Scots Nativity,” the “Coventry Carol,” “Good Christian Men Rejoice,” and “See Amid the Winter Snow,” are evocative of English Christmas celebrations.

This year, we are proud to share the stage with the Lawrence Academy of Music Bel Canto Girl Choir. They will perform Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, a Christmas work based on texts from old English poems. Some of these selections are subject to change, but our program features the following pieces:

Fanfare for Christmas – Lloyd Pfautsch
Processional – Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (audience sing-along)
Blessed Be That Maid Marie – John Leavitt
Coventry Carol – Dale Warland
Scots Nativity – Alan Bullard
The Three Kings – Healey Willan
Good Christian Men, Rejoice (audience sing-along)
A Ceremony of Carols – Lawrence Academy of Music Bel Canto Girl Choir
Carol of the Drum – Katherine K. Davis
A Spotless Rose – Herbert Howells
See Amid the Winter Snow
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (audience sing-along)
Silent Night – Rhonda Polay
Behold the Star – William Dawson
Angels We Have Heard on High (audience sing-along)
Angel’s Carol – John Rutter
A Cradle Song – Craig Carnahan
Peace, Peace – Rick and Sylvia Powell, arr. Fred Bock (audience sing-along)WHC_2012-Dec_021

Christmas at the Chapel

A peek at the program for our next concert

Posted on by newVoices

We hope you join us for our upcoming concert, Sing for Life! We are dedicating this concert to breast cancer survivors and their families because this disease has touched so many of our singers. Music and singing have been extremely important for physical and emotional healing for patients, family members and friends.

In selecting the music for this concert, our Artistic Director Phillip Swan tried to touch on the range of emotions breast cancer patients and their loved ones experience. Those are feelings of fear, anger, loss, hope, joy, endurance and resilience—all will be expressed in the selections we will present. Some of the music touches painful memories of loss and sadness, but most celebrates the strength of the human spirit and our unending capacity for renewal.

As always, newVoices will present a range of musical styles encompassing spirituals, sacred songs & hymns, folk songs and compositions from living composers. Some of these selections are subject to change, but our program features the following pieces:

Hope is the Thing with Feathers – Kenney Potter
Hope, Faith, Life, Love – Eric Whitacre
Bashana Haba’ah – arr. John Leavitt
Be Thou My Vision – arr. Paul Basler
True Light – Keith Hampton
Life is Happiness Indeed – arr. Robert Page
All the Things You Are – arr. Kirby Shaw
Blackbird – arr. Daryl Runswick
I Carry Your Heart with Me – Z. Randall Stroope
Fear Not, Dear Friend – Jake Runestad
There Are No Farewells – Joan Szymko (SSAA)
It Is Well With My Soul – arr. John Purifoy
Psalm 126:  A Song of Accents – Abbie Betinis
Being Alive – arr. Robert Page

Meet our Singers: Sarah Phelps

Posted on by newVoices
Executive Director of newVoices, Jeanie Kurka Reimer, and Sarah Botsford-Phelps at a reception following our concert.

Executive Director of newVoices, Jeanie Kurka Reimer, and Sarah Botsford-Phelps (right) at a reception following our concert.

My name is Sarah Phelps and I have my mom and dad to thank for the privilege of growing up in a musical family. I was originally inspired to be a music therapist in 8th grade when my choir teacher and I started a program pairing regular education students with special education students in a hands-on music class. That music teacher was the first person to ever believe I had singing ability and she continues to be a mentor to me today.

I left my hometown of Waukesha and moved to the Fox Valley to attend Lawrence University and I liked it so much I decided to stay after graduating. While in school, I met my husband and partner in goofiness, who teaches high school English in Oshkosh. I love my job teaching K-6th grade music in the Appleton school district. While my students fill my days with hilarious stories, I also look forward to choir rehearsals on Sunday nights when I get to sing with my “big girl voice.” Rehearsals are a great time to step away from the hectic pace of life and connect with dear friends. I’m currently serving as the alto section leader and as the secretary of the newVoices council where it’s exciting to be more involved in the operations of the ensemble.

Before every performance my dad reminds me to “sparkle.”  While our fabulous new uniforms take care of the shimmer, making music allows me to express what cannot be said through words, to connect deeply with those around me and to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord!”

Meet our Singers: Paris Brown

Posted on by newVoices
Paris Brown sings "Glory, Glory, Glory" in newVoices concert "Christmas at the Chapel."

Paris Brown sings “Glory, Glory, Glory” in newVoices concert “Christmas at the Chapel.”

My name is Paris Brown, and although I call Chicago home, Appleton is becoming my new home. I graduated from Lawrence University with a double major in music (voice) and French and today I serve as the Director of Conservatory Admissions at Lawrence. In my new career, I’m currently pursing my master’s in professional counseling at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. My two best friends also sing in newVoices and it is the one place where we take time out of our busy schedules to share our love of music, together.

My first singing experiences were singing with my grandmother in church and I’ve been singing in a choir since I was 9 years old. As a kid, I would make up melodies and songs to everything around me, but it was not until the middle of high school that I was told that I possessed some talent.

I sing because my body and soul urge me to. It is the most effective way that I’ve found to communicate with others and with God. I sing because it is my way to add beauty to the world and leave it a better place. Through my voice, I encourage others to laugh or cry, to smile or reflect, or just be. It is my voice, but it was created with those who have come before me, and I hear my grandmother’s voice when I sing…