Most people know Leonard Bernstein as a world-renowned composer and conductor whose contributions to music and culture can be heard in concert halls around the world. Less known are his contributions to education, but they are no less impactful. Since the 1990s more than 250,000 students have been exposed to an educational method Bernstein created called Artful Learning®.
Over a period of two years, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has strengthened its partnership with an exciting program that is building connections between music educators. American Young Voices hosts the largest school choral concerts in the world in five cities for music students in grades 2 through 8 and their teachers.
Community choirs come in many shapes and sizes – from professional and semiprofessional groups to organizations for people who love to sing and make music to come together to create something new… and many in between. We hope to feature many of these different kinds of community ensembles through this ongoing Pepper Spotlight component of the Community Choir eClub, sharing both their stories and repertoire.
The spotlight this month focuses on an adult 50+ community choir that centers on building musicianship and vocal fundamentals as well as creating a community of voices who just love to sing. This chorus is part of the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, open to adults ages 50 and over. The OLLI Chorus is a 75-voice four-part choral group for experienced singers who meet at least twice a week preparing for end-of-semester performances on campus and out in the community. Members of the choir include career retirees from the military and members of the medical, business, industrial manufacturing and performing arts fields. Of course, most are grandparents – the most important profession of all!
The OLLI Chorus sings for the residents of many retirement communities, regularly opens the December series of Brown Bag Luncheon Concerts on the first Friday of December, and this past spring performed as part of the annual Dover Days Celebration.
The mission of OLLI is to enjoy classes, teach, exchange ideas and travel for intellectual development, cultural stimulation, personal growth and social interaction in an academic cooperative by its members, who volunteer their time and talents. Making music together fosters caring for one another, new friendships, finding others who enjoy the performing arts, and meeting other adults who are supportive and encouraging in each other’s goals as a part of this performing ensemble.
Over the 20+ years of its existence, the OLLI Chorus has had four conductors. Mrs. Janet Spengler-Miller, the current music director, has served since 2014. During her 35-year music teaching career she has taught in Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico, Maryland, and Delaware. She earned her Bachelor of Science in music education at Lebonon Valley College and her Master of Science in choral music at Towson University. In addition to teaching, she was the founder and director of the Diamond State Choraliers, an adult community choir, and taught applied piano at Wesley College. She served as President of the Delaware Music Educators Association and Teacher Chair of the Commission for Curriculum Standards in the Performing and Visual Arts for all Delaware students. In 2002 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the DMEA, and the Jesse Ball duPont Award, given by the Delaware Symphony, for her state-wide contributions to the arts and specifically the field of music education.
Regarding the importance of adult community choirs, Mrs. Spengler-Miller says:
“Keeping one’s brain busy solving new musical challenges is invigorating, pleasurable, satisfying, and necessary to maintain health. Being aware of the attributes of the aging brain, the repertoire through the years for the chorus included music that many had learned in their youth, vocal standards, American folk songs, classical standards, the Great American Songbook favorites, as well as contemporary selections from new composers.”
“It is always true that the capacity of our brains to remember music from long ago helps those with serious memory issues to relate, to socialize, to feel some self-worth and pride in their accomplishments. As their music director it is worth all the planning and rehearsal time to see the sheer enjoyment and love of music wash over their faces as we perform a piece that is meaningful and that we have worked together to perfect musically.”
“As current research shows, to stay healthy in the senior years, one must stay active. Keeping our brains busy solving new musical challenges is invigorating, pleasurable, satisfying, and necessary to maintain health. The camaraderie that I get to observe among the four vocal sections is gratifying and worth all of the hard work of the selection of appropriate music and teaching the various technical skills in order to perform well.”
Carol Nile of Chesapeake City is the piano accompanist for the OLLI Chorus. She began studying the piano at age seven and has been accompanying her entire adult life. In addition to teaching middle school music, she has always been involved in church music as an organist, pianist, and/or choir director. Carol is also the piano accompanist for the Delaware Women’s Choir which recently returned from their European tour.
The New Mexico Peace Choir was founded in December 2015, springing from a vision from the founder and director, Christy Conduff to form an inclusive, mixed voice choir that would inspire peace and joy and help raise social awareness. The Peace Choir’s repertoire revolves around inspiring songs about nature, social awareness, the human spirit and peace, filling a need and bridging the gap between head and heart. The ripple effect of the energy the choir gives and receives while singing is palpable and they believe this energy will help transform our world.
Since its recent beginnings, the New Mexico Peace Choir has experienced exponential growth and is making a difference in people’s lives. The NMPC has had sell out concerts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and they performed for Earth Day at the historic Loretto Chapel. The choir has opened the last two sessions of the NM Legislature and helped celebrate The World Day of Peace by performing at The Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.
Invitations for the New Mexico Peace Choir’s unique sound, repertoire and “heart” continue to come in. Recently, they were honored to represent The U.S. at The World Peace Choir Conference in Vienna, Austria and sing with The Vienna Boys Choir and other Peace Choirs from around the world. The choir then traveled to Prague, The Czech Republic for more touring and a performance at The U.S. Embassy that was live streamed to other American Embassies worldwide!
The NMPC performed The National Anthem at the opening ceremonies for The 2017 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, followed by a concert on center stage. They were also recently honored to perform at The Baha’i Faith’s 200th Anniversary celebration in Albuquerque as well as a Commemoration of Nelson Mandela.
The Director of the New Mexico Peace Choir is Christy Conduff. Christy grew up in a musical family and directed her first adult church choir at the age of 16. She has continued directing in a wide variety of church settings most of her life. She has been a music teacher since receiving her BME from Southwest Missouri Baptist University with a dual emphasis in vocal performance and conducting. Christy recently retired from teaching music in the Moriarty/Edgewood and Estancia, NM school districts. She remains a popular and sought after clinician and adjudicator by many school districts throughout the state.
The accompanist for the NMPC is Denise Baccadutre. “Ms. B” received her BA in Vocal Music and Music Education from Wichita State University. After teaching music in Kansas, she moved to Moriarty, New Mexico, where she taught choir and piano and received her MA in Educational Administration.
Repertoire of the New Mexico Peace Choir
Why We Sing (June 2017)
The Call of Music, Joseph Martin, I am a small part of the world, Sally Albrecht and Jay Althouse, I am but a Small voice, arr. John Coates, Jr., I Lived, Jacob Naverud, Earth Song, Frank Ticheli, Gently (Walk on the Earth), Brian Tate, Rise, arr. Mac Huff, Grand Canyon Sunrise, Mark Patterson, Why We Sing, Greg Gilpin, Connected, Brian Tate, Peace Train, arr. Kirby Shaw, Reach Out and Touch, arr. Russ Robinson, Hymn of Acxiom, adapted Kerry Mars, In the Time of Silver Rain, Audrey Snyder, Riversong, Andy Beck, Let The River Run, arr. Jay Althouse, Fences, Andre J. Thomas, Sing For Peace, Jim Papoulis and Francisco Nunez
Give Me Music (January 2017)
Give Me Music, Amy Bernon, Glorious, arr. Masa Fukada, Prayer of the Children, arr. Andrea Klouse, The Human Heart from “Once on This Island”, arr Andy Beck, The Voice, arr Roger Emerson, Can You Hear? Jim Papoulis & Francisco Nunez, Bridge Over trouble Water, arr. Kirby Shaw, We Can Be Kind, arr. Kirby Shaw, Voice Dance, Greg Jasperse, Thankful, arr. Rollo Dilworth, Stand By Me, arr. Mac Huff, Anyway, arr. Greg Gilpen, Moutain Dance, Roger Emerson, May It Be, arr. Mark Brymer, Come To The Music, Joseph Martin
Singing for Joy, Singing for Peace (June 2016)
Riversong, arr. Roger Emerson, Earth Song, Frank Ticheli, Nella Fantasia, arr. Audrey Snyder, Unwritten, arr Steve Zegree, For Good, arr. Mac Huff, We Can Be Kind, arr. Kirby Shaw, The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun, arr. Audrey Snyder, Music Lead the Way!, Laura Farnell, There is Sweet Music Here, Mary Lynn Lightfoot, Sing For Peace, Jim Papoulis, I Dreamed of Rain, arr. Larry Nickel, This We Know, David Brunner, Give Us Hope, Jim Papoulis & Francisco Nunez, Change the World, arr. Mac Huff.
The Youth Chorus of Kansas City was founded in the summer of 2017 to provide ambitious young student singers throughout the Kansas City area an opportunity to grow their musical skills and abilities, pursue excellence and develop leadership skills through outstanding performance. Still in its first season, the chorus has had several public performances and concerts and is rapidly growing in popularity with enthusiastic young singers and audiences.
“I believe students should have a fun, uplifting, and rewarding musical experience in every rehearsal and performance,” explains founder and artistic director Ryan Main, a veteran educator, director, clinician and composer. “Our mission is to teach, inspire and empower young singers to be lifelong music makers who seek excellence in everything they do.”
The Youth Chorus of Kansas City is proudly inclusive, embracing and representing the diversity of Kansas City. Additionally, YCKC makes scholarships available to families in need, with almost 40% of students currently on scholarship.
Students in the Youth Chorus of Kansas City are expected to participate in their school music programs. “The Youth Chorus of Kansas City is not a replacement for a school choir,” Main explains. “In fact, YCKC works in harmony with schools to help students develop skills and contribute to their programs as leaders.”
This season, the Youth Chorus Theme was “The Poet Sings,” a celebration of the settings of famous poets, and the theme for the upcoming concert will be “A Million Dreams,” the music of hope, perseverance, and promise.
In addition to holding themed concerts throughout its inaugural season, the youth chorus has also performed for large audiences, caroling during the holidays in Kansas City and performing the national anthem for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Beyond its 2017-2018 season, the second annual YCKC Summer Sing! program will kick off this June. “It’s an excellent opportunity for students and families to see what YCKC is all about,” says Ryan. “They will spend a week singing, learning, and building friendships that will last a lifetime.” The Summer Sing! fills up quickly – interested singers can register at www.youthchoruskc.org.
Songs from the Theme “The Poet Sings”
The Poet Sings – Z Randall Stroope; Adventures of Isabelle – Andrea Ramsey; The Arrow and the Song – Christopher Matthews; What Do the Stars Do? – Sherri Porterfield; I Believe – Mark Miller; Hope Is the Thing With Feathers – arr. Susan LaBarr; I Dream a World – Rollo Dilworth
Songs from the theme “A Million Dreams”
A Million Dreams – Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, arr. Mac Huff; Will There Really Be A “Morning”? – Craig Hella Johnson; When I Close My Eyes – Jim Papoulis; The Dream Keeper – Rollo Dilworth; I Am – Melanie Horne; Dream Big – Ryan Shupe
Other repertoire from the Youth Chorus of Kansas City
Autumn Gives Her Hand to Winter – Keith Loftis; This Is Winter – Amy Bernon; Jing-a-ling, Jing-a-ling – arr. Mac Huff; I Ask For One Day – Jim Papoulis; A la Media Noche – arr. Greg Gilpin; Salangadou – Susan Brumfield; How Can I Keep From Singing? – arr. Stephen Rew; Beneath the African Sky – Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory; Everlasting Melody – Rollo Dilworth; Cantate Domino – Ken Berg; Inanay – Lou Bennett
Reprise is a focused, creative, and collegial choir community ensemble made up of high caliber musicians with a passion to develop songs at the highest artistic level. With our 2017 Inaugural Season under our belts, we are looking forward to many more seasons to come.
Reprise is the brainchild of Janet Reiter and April Duvic. A strong, collaborative bond developed between these co-directors of the Clark College Chorale and the musicians of the chorale as they performed together from September of 2007 through June of 2013. Both the singers and audience embraced Janet’s and April’s commitment to present diverse repertoire at the highest artistic level while honoring the historical significance, and technical and expressive elements of the music. Reprise was born of the need to relive this unforgettable adventure; to experience again the personal rejuvenation and communal gratification that thrives within a focused, creative and collegial environment. Each member of Reprise has a life-long passion to develop songs from the composer-intent stage to final concert interpretations of the highest integrity resonates with our patrons. A win-win partnership between singers, directors and community members that began nearly a decade ago lives on in Reprise.
The name, Reprise, is a nod to two separate directions. In musical terms, it’s a reference to a repeating passage. In addition, in its French origin, the word simply means to “take up again,” they explained, which is a reference to Reiter and Duvic reuniting with the same goal they had when they started Clark College Chorale a decade ago.
This community ensemble is unique in that the Co-Founders of the group also share the Directing/Conducting/Artistic Direction of the ensemble.
April Brookins Duvic joined the music faculty at Clark College in Vancouver, WA in 1990; teaching Applied Voice, Music Education and Music Appreciation classes as well as directing the Women’s Choral Ensemble, Concert Choir and the Clark College Chorale prior to her retirement in June 2016. She was the first two-time recipient of the College’s Exceptional Faculty Award (2001 & 2007) and is a frequent adjudicator for both choral and solo vocal competitions and master classes in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. She is an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the American Choral Directors Association, and the Music Teachers National Association as well as a member of the National Association for Music Education. Her voice students have enjoyed success at many NATS auditions over the years and she has received recognition as the teacher of two MTNA high school national performance competition winners. She maintains a private vocal studio with students ranging in age from 10 to senior citizens in Vancouver, WA. Ms. Duvic earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Whitman College and her Masters of Science in Teaching from Portland State University and continues to perform with Chor Anno, a 30-voice choral ensemble comprised of choral music educators and professional singers from WA, OR and WY.
Janet Reiter retired from full-time teaching after 21 years in the Evergreen School District, as the Choral Music Director at Mountain View High School. After her retirement, she was the choral director at Skyview High School for 3 years, and also taught Vocal Jazz at Clark College for 9 years. While still teaching at Clark, she and April Duvic founded and co-directed the Clark College Chorale for many years. Ms. Reiter’s concert choirs and vocal jazz ensembles were frequently featured at Music Educator’s State and Northwest conferences. In addition, her vocal jazz ensemble performed at the International Association of Jazz Education conferences in Chicago, New Orleans and San Antonio. Ms. Reiter was a 2002 recipient of the Washington Music Educators Association Hall of Fame Award. Ms. Reiter earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Central Washington University and her Masters in Teaching from Lewis and Clark University. In 1986 she received a second Masters Degree in Piano Performance, also from Lewis and Clark University. She continues to perform with Chor Anno, a 30-voice choral ensemble comprised of choral music educators and professional singers from WA, OR and WY.
Repertoire of Reprise:
Season 1 – Theme “Unforgettable”
Prelude, Ola Gjeilo; Gaudete omnes, J.P. Sweelinck, ed. John Leavitt; Hallelujah, L. Cohen, arr. Roger Emerson; Alleluia, Stephen Paulus; Three Liebeslieder Waltzes, Johannes Brahms, ed. & arr. Patrick M. Liebergen; Lullaby, Daniel Elder; Domaredansen arr. Hallberg; Let the River Run, arr. Craig Hella Johnson; Pure Imagination, Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley arr. Jay Althouse; In Remembrance, D. Childs; Precious Lord, Take My Hand, arr. Roy Ringwald; The Tyger, Reginald Unterseher; Unforgettable, arr. Kirby Shaw; I Sing Because I’m Happy, arr. Kenneth Padden/adapt. Rollo Dilworth.
Season 2 – Theme “The Best of All Possible Worlds”
The Best of all Possible Words, Leonard Bernstein; Seeds Grow to Plant, John Rutter; O vos omnes, Pablo Casals; Verleih uns Frieden, Felix Mendelssohn; High Flight, Karen Robinson; Workin’ for the Dawn of Peace, Ron Jeffers; Lux Aeterna, Edward Elgar; Let Us Have Peace, Paul Aitken; The Music-Makers, Brian Galante; We Are, Ysaye Barnwell; Freedom Come, B. Allaway; Bright Morning Stars Are Rising, P. Siskind; Imagine, John Lennon, arr. Pentatonix; A Jubilant Song, Norman Dello Joio; Cornerstone, Shawn Kirchner.
To learn more, visit Reprise’s website at www.reprisechoirsings.org
A dedicated music tech lab is a terrific way to supplement and reinforce the learning that is happening in the classroom and through ensemble work. A dedicated music tech lab allows students to:
In 2010 Corona, California had been without a community choir for several years; Angela Rosser decided it was time to end that drought, and through her efforts the Circle City Chorale came to be. At the time, Ms. Rosser was the Music Director at Corona United Methodist Church, and her church choir made up about half of the original roster of 29 voices that performed the Chorale’s first concert in July of that year. By the fall, word had spread throughout the community and the Chorale grew to 44 singers for the December performance.
The Circle City Chorale’s mission is to “provide the local community with a dynamic, high-caliber choral group that promotes music appreciation and arts education. We express a commitment to diversity in our membership, repertoire and patrons by singing choral music from various cultures, genres and time periods, thus providing a more enriching, uplifting and educational experience.” To accomplish this mission, “we seek community outreach opportunities by partnering with individuals, organizations and businesses that share our belief that music has the power to entertain, to educate, and to inspire.”
The Circle City Chorale has continued to grow in membership, currently 60-65 members strong, and diversify. As that growth has continued, two newer ensembles have been added to the Circle City family. The Circle City Singers, a smaller ensemble that takes on more challenging music and sometimes performs for community events, made their debut in December 2011, and the Circle City Children’s Choir was formed in the fall of 2014. All of these ensembles regularly perform together as well as on their own.
The Circle City Chorale regularly performs a summer Broadway show featuring soloists and small groups performing music from stage and screen. In May of 2016, the Chorale was presented the opportunity to perform in Vienna, Prague and Budapest, a major highlight since the group’s inception.
The Circle City Chorale, Singers and Children’s Choir are proud members of Arts Alive, a consortium of local arts organizations, whose goal is to promote the arts and to further awareness of the artistic activities in the greater Corona area.
Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor Angela Rosser started her music studies at an early age, singing in choirs and playing the piano in elementary school. She continued to pursue choral and musical theatre experiences throughout high school and college. Anji earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music performance from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she also served as Student Director for the Spelman College Glee Club. She formed a corporate choir, The Belltones, during her time at Pac Bell, served as Director of Music at the Corona United Methodist Church, and has taught piano and voice for well over 20 years.
Like many other teachers, I have been exposed to learning management systems (LMSs) through professional development, online courses and even some face-to-face coursework. Early LMSs were a neat new technology and they certainly piqued our interest, but they were also fairly clunky and difficult to use in the early stages. A new LMS called MusicFirst is about to change that!
The Austin Children’s Choir strives to provide the children of Austin and surrounding communities with a rewarding music program that gives them the opportunity to learn and perform outstanding choral music. The choir’s mission is to make their program accessible to all children, no matter their musical experience or socioeconomic status. The choir accepts all singers into the program who audition. This is especially important since we unfortunately live in a time when schools across the country are cutting funding for fine arts programs. The Austin Children’s Choir is providing an outlet for musical expression in the live music capital of the world. Studies suggest that musical training can help students improve in all school subjects, develop their social interactions, and boost their self-esteem. Singers in the Austin Children’s Choir range from ages 6 to 18 with a variety of musical backgrounds and experiences.
The mission of the Austin Children’s Choir:
- Nurture and develop Austin-area children using music and performance as the primary vehicles of motivation and education
- Provide the Austin music scene with the unique, pure sound that only a children’s choir can produce
- Make a cultural contribution to the community by offering a varied repertoire that includes classical, popular and ethnic music
- Promote the principle of inclusion by recruiting members from diverse ethnic, economic and social backgrounds
At the 2008 Critic’s Choice Awards annual celebration, the Austin Critics Table named the Austin Children’s Choir’s world premiere performance of The Odyssey the Best Choral Performance of the Season. In 2015, the choir performed John Rutter’s Mass of the Children in collaboration with members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, an adult chorus, and the Hill Country Youth Chorus. The Austin Children’s Choir performed the world premiere of Jack Wild’s Three Waking Dreams, a commission for the choir’s 30th anniversary.
Each concert season is centered on a new theme, which drives musical selections by the artistic staff. Concert themes have included Music Around the World, Through the Eyes of a Child, and Pilgrims and Pioneers. Repertoire is chosen to highlight the annual theme and connect the music for the audience and the performers.
In 2017, the Austin Children’s Choir celebrates their 31st season, entitled Beyond the Pages, with an emphasis on folk music and music featuring texts by famous poets and writers. While rehearsals are focused on producing beautiful music, the artistic staff also fosters development in music literacy and appreciation through lessons in music reading, critical listening, and music theory.
The artistic staff of the choir comprises music educators from the Austin area who hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and conducting. Directors of the chorus have taught at the elementary, middle school, and collegiate levels. Many alumni of the Austin Children’s Choir have gone on to careers in the arts. Members have gone on to study music education, performance, and theater in Texas and around the country.
The Managing Director of the Austin Children’s Choir is Mary Ashton. The artistic staff comprises Artistic Director Sam Parrott, Assistant Artistic Director Emily Evans, Associate Director Kelly Ford, and Accompanist Brian Pettey.
Sam is beginning his fourth year with the Austin Children’s Choir and is also starting his third year as Choir Director at A.J. Briesemeister Middle School in Seguin ISD. In 2015, Sam premiered a work by Composer in Residence Jack Wild entitled Three Waking Dreams and conducted a collaborative performance of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the Hill Country Youth Chorus. Sam will serve as an Assistant Director for the collaborative performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, with an adult chorus comprising singers from Conspirare, Chorus Austin, Panoramic Voices, and Texas State University, along with Ballet Austin and the Austin Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Peter Bay, conductor of the ASO.
Sam received his bachelor’s degree in music studies with an emphasis in choral music from Texas State University in 2011 and his master’s degree in choral conducting from Texas State University in 2015. He has studied conducting under Dr. Jonathan Babcock, Dr. Joey Martin, Dr. Lynn Brinckmeyer, Professor Matthew Oltman, and Dr. Craig Hella Johnson.
Repertoire from past three seasons includes Dreams That Children Dream – Ruth Elaine Schram & Celsie Staggers; Give Us Hope – Jim Papoulis; selections from Friday Afternoons – Benjamin Britten; When Children Sing – Mary Goetze; Yonder Come Day – Judith Cook Tucker; Little Birch Tree – arr. Mary Goetze; Wink to the Little Baby – Mary Goetze; Painless Opera – arr. Phyllis Wolfe-White; Zoo Illogical – Clare Grundman; Festival Sanctus – John Leavitt; Bee! I’m Expecting You! – Emma Lou Diemer; The Dream Keeper – Rollo Dilworth; Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around – arr. Rollo Dilworth; Three Waking Dreams – Jack Wilds (commissioned 2015); I’m Nobody, Who Are You? – Thomas Pavlechko (Commissioned 2015); Mass of the Children – John Rutter; Durme, Durme – arr. Audrey Snyder; I’ve Gotta Crow – arr. Sally Albrecht; Sesere Eeye – arr. Mark O’Leary; Gloria Tibi – Leonard Bernstein.