This month, as part of our Voices of Spring programming, we're having a little fun with those who make the music.
We're asking the singers, choir directors and vocal performers to share with us a little observational humor, so we're taking #ChoralTruths to Twitter. We're hoping that you'll share with us something that you see as being a universal truth from your spot on the risers.
The example we've been using is: "Altos always carry pencils." We don't know why; but it does kinda seem true. Have you ever seen an alto not carrying a pencil?
We'll pick the best and share them on Twitter and here too.
So go on, be merciless... and let us know your #ChoralTruths!(0 Comments)
Posted at 3:19 PM on February 4, 2013
by Brett Baldwin
Filed under: Choral Music
It's a small desk, but it's no matter -- the 9 members of Cantus ably fit around it for an outstanding performance on a recent trip to NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters.
The nine-voice ensemble performed pieces from their latest album -- the stellar Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: "Wanting Memories" (Ysaye Barnwell), "Zikr" (A.R. Rahman), "Ave Maria" (Franz Biebl).
For an in-depth account of their recording process, read the transcript of Val Kahler's interview.
Highlights from Dec. 11 to Dec. 18
Tuesday, 7 pm: Welcome Christmas!, with VocalEssence.
Wednesday, 12 noon: Music with Minnesotans: Actor and singer Dane Stauffer.
Wednesday, 7 pm: Candles Burning Brightly.
Thursday, 11 am: Cantus, live at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Angelica Cantanti Youth Choir, I Cantanti, The Singers, and the National Lutheran Choir.
Thursday, 7 pm: Christmas with Luther College.
Friday, 7 pm: Minnesota Choral Christmas.
Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Osmo Vänskä leads a program of Prokofiev, Aho, and Brahms.
Saturday, 12 noon: Metropolitan Opera: Verdi: Aida.
Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: International Holiday Sampler.
Sunday, noon: From the Top.
Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, in Brahms, Wagner, and Richard Strauss.
Monday, 7 pm: A Chanticleer Christmas.
Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: The Childhood of Christ, by Berlioz.
Tuesday, 7 pm: Slavic Wonders, with the Rose Ensemble.
I had the great privilege this past weekend to attend one of the premiere US concerts of the Cuban choir, Schola Cantorum Coralina, brought to us through the initiation of our very own Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence.
I didn't quite know what to expect going into it. A few weeks ago I thought in my naïve, snobby Midwest "our choirs are the best" attitude, "Okay. A Cuban choir? This will be nice. Some mambo and Afro-Cuban percussion with added singing. Cute. Fun."
...No. It was so much more than that. I was COMPLETELY blown away. Of course there was rhythm, but it was a side note. It was as if they said, "Well, yeah. We're Cuban. Get over it. Now check this out!" I was taken by the tightness of their blend and expressive movement, the complexity of the repertoire, a genre seemingly lost to our American choral ears (Cuban choral music that is), and their unwavering communication. Their conductor (Alina Orraca) had enormous control of this choir who had the musical spectrum and control likened to a 1966 Pontiac GTO - beautiful, tender, muscular, fast, and sassy.
My mind has been consumed ever since, LITERALLY unable to stop thinking or talking about their performance!
A beautiful combination of high-caliber musical performance and commitment to youth education, instilling a passion for choral music in the Cuban community.
If you missed it, I am sorry. BUT, you can still check them out online. Here are some videos from their winning performance at the 2007 European Grand Prix for Choral Singing.
Guillaume de Machaut was born sometime around 1300 in Champagne. As is the case with so many medieval composers, and even beyond, no one knows his exact date of birth.
That means we never get to celebrate it.
So I wanted to share a song written by Machaut, called Rose, liz, printemps, verdure, performed by the Gothic Voices. Not only is this one of my favorite Machaut songs, it's one of my favorite pieces of music ever.
My ear is immediately drawn to the open harmony and the unusual cadences (endings of phrases). The cadences are, though, as they should be given the time period - it's just not how we're used to hearing phrases end.
For living in the 14th century, Machaut's music and poetry was well-preserved and cataloged. Although the majority of his music is secular, his mass, Messe de Nostre Dame, is the first extant copy of a composer's complete mass setting. Machaut's hundreds of poems tell tales of the Black Death, the French countryside, love and more.
It is understood that Minnesota holds a very strong grip on the world of choral music, both nationally and internationally. With our world-renown professional and collegiate choirs, fabulous public school programs, and choirs with a message we have carved our name in choral history. We live in a special place, and it is our depth that is so remarkable.
Here at Classical MPR we have made an official commitment to the choral community in Minnesota. We started by creating an on-line choral stream with hours and hours of non-stop choral music from around the world. We will bring to the Twin Cities the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the King's College Choir (Cambridge), and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir with a commission by Edie Hill. In the future we will continue to nurture that relationship by creating collaborative programming and content.
This summer at the State Fair Classical MPR thought, given our choral initiative, that it would be appropriate to incorporate several vocal acts, including VocalEssence, the Minnesota Boychoir, and members of the Minnesota Opera. But something was missing...so when I was approached by Brian Newhouse and Daniel Gilliam at MPR to discuss other ensembles to incorporate, I responded immediately with the idea of a young-adult chamber choir. They asked, "Does anything like that exist?" Knowing of nothing I said, "No, but I will create it."
And so here we are, The State Fair Singers with me, Sam Kjellberg, the aspiring conductor. We will sing a short program of music by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, and a short hymn by the great Thomas Tallis. It's a simple concept – young-adults between the ages of 22 and 27 singing together, all coming from fabulous collegiate choral programs – Concordia (Moorhead), Luther, Saint Olaf, the University of Minnesota, and Yale. This project has been the seed to something we hope to continue through the next several years, or until we're too old to be considered "young-adults." (...but "youth" is a mindset, right?...)
The name seems a little narrow and constraining, and in some ways it is, but even with the name attached, this group has hopes of being a symbolic gesture for the future of choral music and classical music in general. It is my opinion that Classical Music must focus on keeping its youthful vigor and innovation alive and well. I hope that ensembles with this sort of youthful energy, determination, and initiative will continue to be heralded for years to come!
Come at check us out at the State Fair!!!
August 27-29th, 2-3pm
September 3, 2-3pm
All at the Minnesota Public Radio booth on the corner of Judson and Nelson!
Posted at 9:04 AM on June 29, 2012
by Daniel Gilliam
Filed under: Choral Music
The American Choral Directors Association, Minnesota chapter (ACDA-MN), is presenting a state-wide choral sing-a-long on November 10, 2012 [corrected date]. You can get your choir invovled by applying here (deadline is October 1, 2012). Locations are spread out across Minnesota, so you should be able to find a convenient spot to showcase your group.
According to the ACDA-MN website, the goal is to showcase choirs "of any size, age, or ability representing school, community and faith-based organizations." This event is part of the organization's 50th anniversary year.
It's the y'all come of choral singing.
St. Olaf College organ and church music professor, John Ferguson, is retiring after 29 years. The college celebrated his tenure, complete with a hymn festival and Cantorei reunion (uncluding 200 voices), and this "Ferg Feast" tribute video. You can view the hymn festival program book here.(1 Comments)
Posted at 12:16 PM on May 22, 2012
by Elena See
Filed under: Choral Music
Since the very beginning, Classical MPR has championed choral music through our regional broadcasts. Now, you can listen to choral music all day and all night long with our new online choral stream!
Danish recorder player Michala Petri's newest recording is titled English Recorder Concertos — but it's not out of the question for her NEXT recording to be featured in our choral stream. Take a listen below...and make sure to visit the New Classical Tracks page with Julie Amacher to hear selections from Petri's newest release.