Middlebury Community Chorus launches a new season
MIDDLEBURY — Come join the Middlebury Community Chorus as the group begin rehearsing this fall to prepare for its annual Thanksgiving concerts. Weekly rehearsals on Tuesday and Sunday, from 7-8:30 p.m., initially take place at the Mahaney Arts Center room 221 on the Middlebury College campus on Tuesday, Sept. 3 and Sunday, Sept. 8, and then shift to Mead Chapel beginning on Sept. 10.
This year the chorus will introduce jubilant pieces influenced by American folk-roots, gospel, and African vocal and drumming traditions. They include “One Voice,” by Ruth Moody from the Canadian folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys; a brand new piece entitled “Sing Out Your Joy,” by African American composer Victor C. Johnson in traditional gospel style; “Modimo,” with South African harmonies and rhythms by composer-conductor Michael Barrett; and Dan Forrest’s dynamic arrangement and translation of an ancient psalm, “Ngokujabula!” (meaning “Joy!”), in a setting influenced by African vocal and drumming traditions.
The chorus will sing settings of remembrance and hope in times of despair or sorrow, including “The Music of Stillness,” by Iowa composer Elaine Hagenberg, alongside Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus’s sensitive “Hymn to the Eternal Flame,” which honors those who suffered and perished during the Holocaust. The program also features the beautiful elegy entitled “Nänie” by classical composer Johannes Brahms, written as a memorial to a close friend and noted artist Anselm Feuerbach.
Inspiring works by two Middlebury composers are also on the program. Middlebury College professor Peter Hamlin recently completed a song in memory of long-time chorus member Grace Weber ’79, who passed away in December 2016, and her husband Steve, retired college forester and an avid pianist, who passed away in May of this year. The chorus will also reprise the stunningly expressive final chorus from the “Emergent Universe Oratorio” — composed six years ago by Middlebury’s Sam Guarnaccia on a text by William Blake: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand and a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand and Eternity in an hour.”
The program will close with “Luminous Night of the Soul,” by contemporary Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo, who combines texts by sixteenth-century Spanish poet and mystic St. John of the Cross and contemporary poet Charles Anthony Silvestri with its uplifting sentiment and stirring piano accompaniment played by our versatile pianist Tim Guiles.
The Middlebury Community Chorus traces its origins to the mid-nineteenth century, and now numbers nearly 100 singers from throughout Addison County and the greater Lake Champlain area. We welcome all — without audition — who love to sing (high school, college and adults), trusting you can carry a tune accurately, are willing to learn to follow a musical score should you not already have that experience, and attend at least one rehearsal each week. For more information, visit go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus, or contact conductor Jeff Rehbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 989-7355.