Wednesday, March 24, 2010

IMC National Seminar

The biennial 2010 National Seminar of Intercollegiate Men's Choruses took place from March 18 - 20 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Host Ethan Sperry and his singers put on a great conference, with 19 male choruses singing over the course of the three day event. The festivities began with a performance from the University of Kentucky Men's Chorus and conductor Jefferson Johnson. This group is only 8 years old, but they sing beautifully. Their final number, Every Woman is a Riddle from Lehar's Merry Widow, featured a chorus member in drag. Oy. Click on a pic to enlarge it.

Next came TenBucsWorth, a small ensemble from East Tennessee State University directed by Tom Jenrette. They really straddled the fence between traditional glee club repertoire and an a cappella group, singing everything from a Wolf part song to an arrangement of Unchained Melody.

Next up was the St. Ignatius High School Men's Chorus from Cleveland. This group is open to men in grades 10 - 12 without audition. They gave the first of three Seminar performances of Ola Gjeilo's Ubi Caritas. They also gave the only scheduled performance of the Biebl Ave Maria. Conductor Jason Falkofsky invited the audience to join in during the third verse, and by the end, the hall was echoing with glorious sounds.

The evening concert session ended with a performance by the host group, The Miami University Men's Glee Club led by Ethan Sperry. These guys exhibit such joy when they sing that it's a real pleasure to experience their performances. They sang An Aboriginal Song by Tormis, another bass drum spectacular!

After the evening concert session, a few of us visited a local watering hole to catch up and mingle with the locals. Here I am with Bruce McInnes, long time conductor of the Amherst College Glee Club and current director of Mastersingers USA.

The next afternoon's concert session began with a performance by the Men's Ensemble from the Choirs of Central Bucks High School-West in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Their conductor, Joe Ohrt, is a legend in the field, having commissioned more than 350 pieces for his choruses over his 19 years at the school. The group frequently uses props (in this case, bamboo sticks and picture frames) and often performs with guest composers participating. For this concert, composer Ola Gjeilo improvised at the piano during performances of two of his works (including the second Seminar performance of Ubi Caritas). Here are the Central Bucks men with the Roxbury Latin men.

The next performance was from the DePaul A Cappella Men led by Clayton Parr, 2010 recipient of IMC's Marshall Bartholomew Award for service to the male chorus world. This group is actually half of the SATB DePaul A Cappella. Clayton brought the men, who had learned a special program of music from the Republic of Georgia. Clayton is probably the foremost expert on Georgian music in the US, and his men did a fantastic job on a demanding program.

Next came the Hamilton (Ontario) Police Male Chorus. This group, now in its 51st year, is the only male police chorus remaining in Canada. Let by Miami University Glee Club alumnus Steve Becker, they sang a varied program of lighter fare and earned an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd. There's an original member still singing with the group. They had the best outfits of any chorus at IMC, so I'm sorry I didn't get a picture.

The afternoon's final performance came from The Roxbury Latin Glee Club, Chorus and Latonics, who sent a small group of men (21) from the 75-voice Glee Club. Roxbury Latin, founded in 1645, is the oldest continuously active school in the US!

After the concert came the first of several events featuring Jameson Marvin, the conductor of the Harvard Glee Club, who will be retiring this spring after 32 years. During this mass sing, Jim coached us on two pieces and told us we were flat a lot. :-)

Friday evening's concert session began with a performance by Measure for Measure, an adult men's chorus led by Steve Lorenz. They sang a nice variety of mostly standard repertoire. I forgot to take a picture, but was able to download this one from their web site.

Next came the Varsity Men's Glee Club from the University of Illinois led by Barrington Coleman. They sang the fiendishly difficult Froelich im Maien by Richard Strauss, and did one number that featured their well-known subset, The Other Guys.

This is The Naperville Men's Glee Club, from Illinois, the only chorus singing at the Seminar with a female conductor, Bonnie Roberts. The sang the third seminar performance of Ola Gjeilo's Ubi Caritas!

The final chorus of the night was The Columbus Gay Men's Chorus, the first GALA chorus to sing at IMC. They sang Gwyneth Walker's arrangement of How Can I Keep From Singing? as well as a cute Christmas medley by Tim Sarsany.

The Saturday afternoon concert session was made up entirely of choirs from Ohio. Let the battle begin. First up were members of The Singing Men of Ohio and their director, Peter Jarjisian. They sang Lee Hoiby's Last Letter Home and threw down the gauntlet with their bright green blazers.

Next up was the Baldwin-Wallace Men's Chorus and conductor Frank Bianchi. This group was formed in 2008 as a town and gown ensemble that features about 1/3 community members and 2/3rd students.

Next came The Kent State University Men's Chorus and conductor Ben Ayling. For some reason, they don't have colored blazers. What were they thinking? I forgot to take a picture (my bad), but found this on their web site.

The concert session ended with the blinding red blazers worn by The Ohio State University Men's Glee Club and their director, Bob Ward. They were the only choir on this concert session to not perform a piece by Seminar host Ethan Sperry. I guess Bob didn't get the memo!

The final concert session on Saturday night featured four of the finest collegiate men's choruses in America. Most of the concert sessions were performed twice so all of the singers and other audience members would be able to hear the performances. I attended the concert sessions in the Chapel, which is why the pictures look different. First up was The Miami University Men's Glee Club, singing everything from Josquin to Tormis. The highlight for me was a new arrangement by Ethan of A.R. Rahman's Wedding Qawwali. Rahman, a friend of Ethan's, has written the scores for more than 100 Bollywood musicals, including the oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

The Rutgers University Glee Club and conductor Pat Gardner dazzled us with their glorious sound and a fantastic performance of Elliott Carter's Tarantella. They also did Brothers, Sing On! in the original language!

The Morehouse College Glee Club and conductor David Morrow will host the 2012 National Seminar in Atlanta. They sang a wide variety of pieces, but their performance of Betehelemu (arranged for them by former conductor Wendell Whalum) brought the house down. I've never heard them sing is better!

And, finally, Jim Marvin and The Harvard Glee Club with their beautiful, elegant performances of works ranging from Gregorian chant and Renaissance pieces to the fiendishly-difficult Emblems by Elliott Carter. It's definitely going to be the end of an era when Jim retires this spring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Washington Men's Camerata with the Virginia Glee Club

The Camerata joined the Virginia Glee Club for a joint performance on the Glee Club's Tour of the Northeast. The concert, on Wednesday, March 10, 2010, was great fun for the singers and for those who came to hear us. Here are a few pictures from the concert. Click the pics to make them larger.

Here, the two groups rehearse before the concert begins.

We sang a few pieces from our upcoming Brush Up Your Shakespeare concert on our own.

Here we are singing a gorgeous performance of the Biebl Ave Maria to close the concert.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

ACDA Eastern Division Convention Program

For our performance at the American Choral Directors Association Eastern Division Convention at First Baptist Church in Philadelphia on February 13, 2010, we went green and dispensed with printed programs. Here's what we sang:

Franz Biebl - Ave Maria (with the Wellesley College Choir)
Hinshaw HMC1253 (TTBB) Wildt's Musikverlag 982405 (SSAA)

Veljo Tormis - Laulja (The Singer)
Fennica Gehrman KL 78.343

Nikolai Golovanov - Dostoyno yest
Music Russica MRSM Go 004

Randall Thompson - The Pasture (Frostiana)
ECS Publishing 2181

Fenno Heath - The Lamb

arr. Patrick Dupré Quigley - Danny Boy

arr. Gwyneth Walker - How Can I Keep From Singing?
ECS Publishing - 6336

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Library Acquisition

I've just returned from Oakland, California and the historic Paramount Theatre. The Paramount's music library became the unlikely final resting place of the Loring Club Men's Chorus library. The collection, now in 68 boxes, was gathering dust and taking up space, but no one knew it was there.

The Paramount's librarian, Jean Cunningham, put out the word that the library was up for grabs, so I got in touch and arranged to transfer the music to the Camerata's National Library of Men's Choral Music (The Demetrius Project).

After a little research, I was able to learn more about the history of the Loring Club and its library. According to a memoir written by David Webster Loring himself, this is how the chorus came to be:

David Webster LORING came to California and established his residence in San Francisco in the latter part of the year 1876, and while he became actively identified with business interests here, he will best and longest be remembered and honored for the part which he played in the advancement of the musical interests of San Francisco.

Mr. LORING was born in Boston, Massachusetts, September 16, 1836, and was there reared and educated, entering business life at the age of nineteen. A man of exceptional musical talent and a cultivated musician, he was one of the founders of Chickering Club a musical organization, and later became one of the organizers and a charter member of the Apollo Club, which was and now is a leading musical organization for male chorus work in Boston.

In the latter part of 1876, Mr. LORING, moved from Boston to San Francisco, and entered the business life of this city, first with the Horace Davis Flour Mills, and later with the Bank of California. At the urgent request of friends, he organized the LORING Club along the lines of the Apollo Club. Under his direction the club achieved splendid service for the community in the development of the better knowledge of the best of male chorus work. He also organized the Schumann Club, a choral society of ladies, which in its turn, aimed to better the knowledge and appreciation of chorus work for female voices. In addition to these two clubs Mr. LORING was identified with the advancement of the best forms of music in San Francisco, and invariably sought out by visiting musicians, composers and producers. His interest in music was always from the point of view of the amateur. He was never a professional. While the SCHUMANN Club did not survive his death, the LORING Club has continued, and the work which Mr. LORING began is being carried forward with enthusiasm and success. His fine qualities of mind and heart endeared him to all who came within the sphere of his influence, and his musical interest brought him countless acquaintances both at home and abroad. He was a member of the Bohemian Club. The photo is of George B. Loring of Massachusetts. They were probably related.

So, the library is now packed and ready to come to DC, thanks to the assistance of Paramount Librarian Jean Cunningham. With any luck, it will soon reside in the Camerata's library, along with collections from Yale, Princeton, Temple, Colgate, Davidson and others.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alexandria Harmonizers Invitation

Click on it to make it bigger...

Some videos of our concert music

Here's the Bowling Green State University Men's Chorus singing Heleluyan. Their conductor wrote the arrangement just for them.

Here's a high school men's chorus from Iowa singing He Never Failed Me Yet with orchestra. They're a little drowned out...

Here's a (mostly) men's chorus with a great soloist.

Here's a version for mixed choir. The soloist is great!

And here's a small church men's ensemble from Illinois.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Choir of the World 2009

Here's the video of the winning performance of the Westminster Chorus from Southern California at the 2009 Choir of the World festival in Llangollen, Wales. The first piece is Eric Whitacre's "Lux Aurumque," which we're singing this Christmas. After that, they sing less traditional barbershop versions of "Shenandoah" and "Didn't my Lord Deliver Daniel." Enjoy!