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Announcing new Executive Director

Posted on by newVoices

_DSC6782Please join us as we welcome Jason Henderson as the new executive director for newVoices choir. Henderson, a resident of Appleton, has experience leading non-profit organizations and has worked in the private sector. He was the 2014 Young Professional of the Year awarded by the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and was nominated for the Fox Cities Future 15 that same year. He is currently on the board of directors of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and previously was on the board of directors of the Fox Valley Symphony where he founded the successful “Sinfonia” fundraiser. In addition to his extensive professional resume, he holds a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis in choral composition from Gustavus Aldolphus College.

“Jason brings a broad range of non-profit and private sector experience and has strong roots in the choral art form,” said board president Jenna Stone. “We are thrilled to add such a talented leader to our organization and to the arts community.”

“Choral music has been a life-long passion of mine,” Henderson said. “I’m excited about the nationally recognized collaboration newVoices has already accomplished through community-based programming and look forward to furthering the mission of the organization.”

We wish our former executive director, Kristopher Ulrich, the best of luck in his new position at the Oshkosh Community Foundation.

Take a voyage with us on the “Sea Symphony”

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newVoices_FB_Timeline_cvr_SeaSymphony_01You know the idea of a “message in a bottle” right?  It’s a fun way to send hand-written notes and ideas to others over great distances and often over great periods of time.  Part of the fun is the mystery of where the message will end up, who will find the bottle, and how the message will be received.

In a very great way, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony is a message in a kind of musical bottle.

With text by American poet Walt Whitman, this masterwork of choral literature (written between 1903-05) is, on its surface, all about sea ships, oceans, and travelers. But buried just beneath the waves is one of the great messages of all-time: “We are all the same!”

The text by Walt Whitman is taken from his work “Leaves of Grass.” Many scholars agree Whitman is the forefather of contemporary American poetry, a poetry that often relies on things rather than ideas, on a conversational narrative rather than formal rhyming patterns. Whitman is also credited with bringing American writing out of the age of romanticism into the age of realism.

Whitman’s poetry about a sea voyage is a metaphor for man’s odyssey through the cosmos. The text explains we are all passengers on a great vessel, the earth, and our shared experiences are so important to that voyage. We see the same moon and stars (every one who exists now, or has existed, or may exist sees exactly the same night sky). We all are rocked by the same rolling of the waves on the ocean, pulled to and by the forces of gravity. We sail together on one vessel under one flag above all the rest, “a pennant universal.” With great skill, Vaughan Williams paints a soundscape of waves, of liquid uneven, of whirling current–you will literally feel the ebb and flow of the ocean throughout much of the work.

The music will take you through every emotion a symphony orchestra can summon. The brass fanfare that opens the first movement sets the stage for a majestic, expansive experience. However, Vaughan Williams also composes passages that are gentle and lilting, moments of thrilling string runs, gentle melodies, percussive passages and expansive anthems. The piece is in four movements that also feature soprano and baritone soloists. The choir and orchestra have equal weight throughout the entire work choir and together creating a diverse yet single sound.

But the last movement is truly as good as it gets in the entire body of choral symphonies, with a message for all time: the vessel that you and I and all of humanity have in-common is a universal relationship with the creator and with creation, with body and soul and the divine all together.  One God, everywhere.

We invite you to steer for the deep waters with us in this amazing work, in the unity of both symphony and chorus and soloists.  It’s a journey you can’t miss!


Join Wisconsin Poet Laureate Karla Huston and newVoices singer Mark Scheffler will present a discussion of the piece in a pre-concert discussion at 6:30 on May 6 in the Kimberly Clark Theater at the Fox Cities PAC. For tickets visit this link.

Music samples from our upcoming concert!

Posted on by newVoices

newVoices_FB_Timeline_cvr_SeaSymphony_01We hope you will join us for a special collaboration with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra in celebration of their 50th anniversary season! We will be presenting two powerful choral/orchestral works and are sharing some recordings so you can listen to the selections before the live performance.

Ralph Vaughan William’s Sea Symphony is both thrilling and haunting, as it marries energy and melody of the music with text taken from Walt Whitman’s poems entitled Leaves of Grass. This thrilling tale of the sea features intensely powerful passages, gentle a capella choral passages, brass fanfares, and baritone & soprano soloists. This is a link to a BBC recording (just love the “presenters”) and will give you an idea of the power of the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp4G5vtdSWc

Also on the program, William Walton’s Coronation Te Deum, a majestic choral/symphonic work composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The work is an anthem of praise, with celebratory themes and melodic passages. This is a link to a recording of the selection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e2r0DzwZWE

This concert is the first in the U.S. VENTURE MASTERWORKS SERIES and is made possible through a generous grant from the U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation. We also thank newVoices season sponsor COMMUNITY FIRST CREDIT UNION for making this presentation possible for the community.

Tickets are available through the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center box office at 920-730-3760 and we hope to see you in the audience!

Accepting applications for executive director

Posted on by newVoices

It is with sadness we announce that Kristopher Ulrich, executive director, will be leaving our organization for a position at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. We thank him for his leadership, we will miss his wonderful talents, and wish him well in his new adventure.

As a result, we are accept applications for the position of newVoices Executive Director. If you are interested, please download the attached job description and email a resume and cover letter to board@newvoiceschoir.org.

New Voices Executive Director job description


Posted on by newVoices

Today’s concerts are on as scheduled at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

PARKING: because of the snow emergency, there is no parking on city streets, however there is parking within a short walk of the chapel. Parking for patrons is located off of Washington St., just one block north of College Avenue and you have several options:

The city parking structure at the corner of East Washington and North Morrison streets has ample parking and is only 2.5 blocks from the Lawrence Chapel.  Parking is $2 for 2-3 hours and is pay upon exit with cash or credit cards. Added bonus: it’s covered so no messy snow in the structure! A map of city parking ramps is at this link.

Patrons may park on a surface lot at 200 East Washington at the Schenck building.

For the 2 p.m. matinée ONLY, patrons may park in the surface lot at First United Methodist Church at the corner of East Washington and N. Drew Street. Please do not park here for the evening concert due to services at the church.

We look forward to seeing you today!

newVoices Celebrates Christmas with sacred program

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newvoices_dec-2014_006This holiday season, newVoices will take its popular Christmas concert on the road. Since 2012, the choir has presented a program of completely sacred music and this year, the choir is adding a concert in Green Bay. “Christmas at the Cathedral” will be at the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral near downtown Green Bay on Friday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, December 17, newVoices will present “Christmas at the Chapel” in two performances at the Lawrence Memorial Chapel in Appleton at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The concert is one of the few completely sacred celebrations at Christmas and, since adopting this format, audiences have continued to grow. “It’s clear to us that our audience wants a program focused on the real reason for the season,” said Executive Director Kristopher Ulrich. “The strong demand for our Appleton concerts prompted us to offer this more spiritual celebration to the residents of Green Bay.”

The choir’s Artistic Director, Dr. Phillip Swan, created a program that presents a mix of music genres to appeal to a range of audience members. Many selections are classical in nature and many are the works of famous choral composers such as John Rutter. Many selections are familiar: “Angels we have Heard on High,” “Still, Still, Still,” “Carol of the Drum,” “Glory to God in the Highest,” “Silent Night,” and many more. Choral singing is perhaps most popular around Christmas—mostly because so many people grow up knowing and loving the traditional carols. For that reason, newVoices will include audience sing-alongs throughout the program so everyone can lift their voice in praise together.

“Our society has become so politically correct in public settings that we’ve isolated our shared tradition of the season,” Swan said. “Our programming is an opportunity to return to our common roots and celebrate our mutual experience at this time of year.”

Concerts will feature a “mini masterwork” as a centerpiece of the performance—“Canite Tuba” by Donald McCullough. This powerful, festive work is based on three texts that come from the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. The three movements express the birth of Christ in chant-like vocal lines, vocal fanfares, and rich fugue sections. “It’s a contemporary sound, but an accessible sound,” Swan said. “The music has an ancient flavor and is very celebratory,” he added.

The Appleton concerts will feature The Lawrence University Academy of Music Young Men’s Chorus joining newVoices on a few selections. This is a new ensemble specifically for teens whose voices have changed and keeps young men connected with choral music. At concerts in both Green Bay and Appleton, Kathrine Handford will be the featured organist. Handford is an organ instructor at Lawrence University and in Appleton will be playing the magnificent 33-foot-tall Brombaugh Organ that is the centerpiece of the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage.

Other selections on the program include:
How Far is it to Bethlehem, James McCullough
Adeste, Fidelis, Alice Parker
What Sweeter Music, John Rutter
Ave Maria, Franz Biebl
All Praise to Thee, Elaine Hagenberg
Breath of Heaven, Chris Eaton & Amy Grant

For all concerts, tickets may be purchased online at www.newvoiceschoir.org, by calling the choir office at 920-832-9700 or at the door. Concert organizers recommend purchasing tickets in advance as all performances will be very close to sold out.

Christmas at the Cathedral
St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
140 South Monroe Ave, Green Bay
Fri., Dec.16, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 adults, $10 students
Special guest artist: Kathrine Handford, Organist
Purchase tickets online here

Christmas at the Chapel
Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Appleton
Sat., Dec.17, 2015, 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults, students $10
Special guest artist: Kathrine Handford, Organist and the Lawrence Academy of Music Young Men’s Chorus
Purchase tickets online here

Announcing: newVoices adds Christmas concert

Posted on by newVoices

We’re spreading the good news in Green Bay! Due to the tremendous response to our two annual Christmas concerts in the Fox Valley at the Lawrence Chapel, we are expanding and adding a concert in Green Bay. The additional concert will be Friday, December 16 at 7:30 pm in the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral near downtown Green Bay. We will still hold two concerts at the Lawrence Memorial Chapel in Appleton on Saturday December 17 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm.

The decision to expand to Green Bay was largely to expand our program of sacred Christmas music to the market. “We were thrilled the Cathedral was available and they are equally excited to host a concert of this nature,” said Kristopher Ulrich, executive director of newVoices.

We welcome special guest artists Kathrine Handford, organist and the Lawrence Academy of Music Young Men’s choir under the direction of Jim Heiks. Tickets for the two concerts at Lawrence University are available online, by calling our office or at the door. Tickets for the Green Bay concert are ONLY AVAILABLE by calling our office at 920-832-9700 or at the door the night of the concert.

Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral was consecrated on November 20, 1881 after five years of construction and the Romanesque architecture was modeled on the Ludwigkirche in Munich, Germany. The building features historic paintings and stained glass windows and in 2004 the Bishop Wycislo Center was completed and houses the Diocese Museum. For more information on the Cathedral, visit this link.

Next concert makes sweet music out of politics

Posted on by newVoices

newVoices presents program on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness


This year’s national elections may be remembered for some of the most hate-filled, divisive rhetoric in modern politics. That rancor prompted newVoices to focus programming on a more elevated, substantial political discourse in their concert “Voice your Vote: the power of one.” The concert will present music that underscores Americans’ opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Organizers were prompted to focus on music that reflects pride in America and participation in the electoral process after learning that many young people feel their vote just doesn’t matter. “Our educators shared that young people were turned off by the partisan nature of politics, so we wanted to present a program that reconnects people with American values of freedom and liberty,” said Kristopher Ulrich, executive director of newVoices.

As part of the programming, the choir collaborated with the League of Women Voters to help in National Voter Registration Day on September 27. Volunteers worked with citizens at schools and a regional dental clinic where new citizens took the opportunity to register. “It made an impact on me to see new Americans excited to give their opinion in a meaningful way,” Ulrich said. “They were thrilled to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

The season opener concert is also the time when high school singers join the chorus. More than 35 students are members of the High School Master Singers program made up top choral singers from 12 area high schools from Clintonville to Green Bay to Oshkosh. Teen-aged singers rehearse alongside the adult singers and learn that choral singing is a life-long pursuit. Concert organizers wanted to reach these future voters with the important message of participating in the electoral process.

Representatives from the League of Women Voters will present a pre-concert talk on Wisconsin’s role in voter rights and how each vote is critical, especially in congressional, legislative and local races.

According to the League, typical voter participation in Wisconsin is only about half of eligible voters. “Our goal is to inform, educate, and register all citizens so they can exercise their right to vote,” said Jacqui Klimaszewski, vice president of voter services, League of Women Voters of Appleton. “One vote may not seem important in a national election, but it is critical in local elections which are races that truly have an impact on our daily lives.”

What’s on the concert program?

On the concert program: selections of patriotic music from revolutionary times to modern interpretations of favorite songs. Audience members will hear settings of “America the Beautiful,” “This is My Country,” “Bless this House,” and new settings of traditional patriotic songs. Familiar folk songs like “Shenandoah,” “Oh Susanna,” “This Land is Your Land,” and others will be presented.

A special selection on the program is “Frostiana,” a marriage of poetry and music that is a distinctly American choral classic. Music by composer Randall Thompson is set to Robert Frost’s poetry that expresses domestic themes of American life in melodic settings. Many consider Frost the greatest American poet who ever lived and his poem “The Road not Taken” may be one of his best known. This, and six other songs alternate between lofty expressions of freedom and more playful snapshots of daily life.

“In these selections, the composer enriched the meaning of Frost’s iconic poetry with layers of distinctive music to create a sound that is purely American,” said Dr. Phillip Swan, artistic director for newVoices. “The genius of the music is the manner in which it mirrors the poetry.”

Songs for this concert were specifically selected for their interplay of words and music. “Some of the pieces take their text from the Declaration of Independence or memorable speeches,” Swan said. “The words reflect our shared experience as Americans by birth or by choice and all reflect a deep pride in freedom and our national heritage.”

Community First

This concert is supported by our season sponsor, Community First Credit Union.

Perhaps no patriotic song stirs such emotion as the “Star Spangled Banner,” also on the program. Pop singers have twisted the melody, forgotten lyrics, and proclaimed it “unsingable,” so newVoices will present a traditional setting of the national anthem. “The song is beautiful,” Swan said. “The words and melody represent our nation’s most enduring symbol and the ideals of freedom and liberty that it represents.”

The concert “Voice Your Vote: the power of one” will be Saturday, October 22 at 7:30 pm at the Lawrence University Memorial Chapel and is sponsored by Community First Credit Union and Schenck. Tickets may be purchased online at this link. http://newvoiceschoir.org/purchase-tickets/


U. S. Venture to fund choral/orchestral masterworks

Posted on by newVoices

The Fox Valley Symphony and newVoices choir announce that the U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation has granted $40,000 to fund a series of choral/orchestral masterworks. The U.S. Venture Masterwork Series will be a four-year commitment to present a collaboration of major works composed by renowned artists. This is the first time a multi-year collaboration of this nature has been undertaken by both organizations and the first major arts donation made by the U.S. Venture / Schmidt Family Foundation.

The series will begin with a live presentation of Ralph Vaughan William’s Sea Symphony as the culmination of the Fox Valley Symphony’s 50th anniversary season. Singers from newVoices will perform with the Symphony in this masterwork on May 6, 2017 at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Collaborative concerts will be scheduled for the ensuing three seasons for each group.

In awarding the grant, the U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation requested it be made in recognition of the volunteer work done by Mary Harp-Jirschele for both organizations. Harp-Jirschele served on the Symphony’s board of directors and has been a patron and member of the advisory council for newVoices. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in the Arts at the annual Celebrating our Volunteers event.

“The Masterworks Series is an opportunity to enhance the arts and culture of the Fox Cities,” said Greg Vandenberg, director of giving and community engagement for U.S. Venture. “The Fox Valley Region has been so good to U.S. Venture. We felt this was an area we could invest in so our community continues to attract and retain top talent. We are also thrilled this will expose these great works to new audiences, especially children. We know the benefits music can bring to the development of young minds and there are some kids who are unable to experience these types of opportunities.”

“We are thrilled by this investment in the arts,” said Jeff Amstutz, board president of the Fox Valley Symphony. “The arts are an integral part of a healthy culture, economy and community and this initiative will be instrumental in bringing a new musical experience to the region.”

“This collaboration will give life to classics that were meant to be heard and enjoyed in live performance,” said Jenna Stone, board president of newVoices. “Music connects us in powerful ways and a masterwork series will allow our organizations to share universal themes with the community.”

As part of the project, both organizations are working together to identify educational and participation opportunities for underserved youth. The Fox Valley Symphony’s Conductor, Brian Groner, and newVoices Artistic Director Phillip Swan are identifying future masterworks to present to the community.




A Day for Celebration!

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IMG_1476 (1)We got the first look at our award from Chorus America at yesterday’s strategic planning meeting! We are the winner of the education and community engagement award presented annually by Chorus America at the national conference in Cincinnati. This award recognizes programs that expand a chorus’ role in its community through mission-based programming, music education, artistic excellence and meaningful collaborations.

The award selection was based on collaborative programming from our 2015-16 season which featured concerts on the issue of sex trafficking and Alzheimer’s/dementia.  This is the first time in the ensemble’s history that we have earned a national award from Chorus America, the leading trade association for adult and children’s choirs. On hand for the presentation: our vice president of the board of directors, Jim Weiland and Artistic Director Phillip Swan.

At yesterday’s strategic planning meeting, members of our board of directors posed with the award and the $2,500 honorarium. Pictured are: Top row L-R:Phil Munroe, Vice President Jim Weiland, Abby Theisen, Jennifer Johnson. Middle Row L-R: Amy Flanders, Executive Director Kristopher Ulrich, Liz Sumnicht, Jenni Eickelberg, Past President Mary Schmidt. Bottom Row L-R: Christine Krause (with check), President Jenna Stone, Artistic Director Phillip Swan (with award).