Author Archives: Jeffrey Rehbach

College Community Chorus in concert Nov. 17-18

The Middlebury College Community Chorus presents its annual Thanksgiving concerts on the Robison Concert Hall stage at the College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts at 7:00pm on Saturday evening, November 17 and at 3:00 pm on Sunday afternoon, November 18. A varied selection of historic and contemporary music fill the free, hour-long program entitled “A Song Arising.” Jeff Rehbach conducts and Tim Guiles accompanies the nearly 100 community and student members of the choir – among the largest choirs in the state!

The choir will present a dramatic new 2018 work, Vida Atrevida,

Sam Guarnaccia '67 and Jeff Rehbach

Composer Sam Guarnaccia ’67 and College Community Chorus conductor Jeff Rehbach in rehearsal with the chorus

by Middlebury alumnus Sam Guarnaccia ’67. Premiered just three months ago by the Spanish Language School choir, it sets the words of Chilean songwriter, artist, and activist Violeta Parra, originally entitled “Gracias a la vida” (Thank you for life). In the midst of social and economic injustice—even the disappearance and death of her friends during the Pinochet regime—Parra penned the words, “Thank you, life, for giving me so much: even laughter and tears, joy and pain, that form my song, your song, the same song that is everyone’s song, my very song.”

The chorus conveys the presence and power of music through songs written by a new generation of composers. Their words convey ideas of “original harmony, sounding from all things old and all things young; music formed deep within human hearts; and the light of song that shines strong through darkness, pain, and strife.” We hear these words in Muusika by Estonian composer Pärt Uusberg; in Earth Song by Frank Ticheli; and in Dan Forrest’s sensitive setting of the poem Alway Something Sings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, that features Middlebury Union Middle School student Asa Baker-Rouse singing solo soprano.

The chorus likewise gives voice to tranquility, reconciliation, and equality. The Peace of Wild Things by Jake Runestad, composed just five years ago, sets poetry by environmentalist Wendell Berry. With solo cello and viola parts played by Dieuwke Davydov and Molly Bidwell, the choir will present the Vermont premiere of Connor Koppin’s newly published setting of I Dream A World, in which poet Langston Hughes envisions a time when we may live together in peace and “share the bounties of the earth, whatever race you be.”

Songs of celebration and thanksgiving include I Will Sing, a toe-tapping gospel song by African-American composer Rosephanye Powell; Hymn for America by Stephen Paulus that portrays the beauty and blessings of our land; and an energetic setting by longtime Vermont resident Gwyneth Walker of a nineteenth-century hymn, How Can I Keep from Singing.

The program features classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s earliest and final choral works, a setting of Kyrie Eleison, and the final movement of his splendid Requiem. We bridge these two selections with Illumination, a Latin text that originates from 17th century Ireland, set by Celtic composer Michael McGlynn. Instrumentalists from the Middlebury Community Music Center, Vermont Symphony and Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra accompany the choir for these selections.

The concert will close with The Song Arising. Its vibrant words and music by Frank M. Martin ring out, “I will awaken the dawn, let there by singing, let there be music!” Come hear your neighbors from Brandon, Bridport, Bristol, Cornwall, East Middlebury, Goshen, Jerusalem, Leicester, Lincoln, Middlebury, Monkton, New Haven, North Ferrisburgh, Orwell, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham, South Burlington, Vergennes, Weybridge, Moriah NY, and students from Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, Latvia, Zimbabwe, and China perform together. Contact director Jeff Rehbach, 989-7355, for more information. 

Note: These performances cap off a weekend of choral music, that begins on Friday evening in the Concert Hall at 7:30pm, when the Vermont Collegiate Choral Consortium performs “Missa Luba” for chorus and percussion, with words of the traditional Mass in a setting based on Congolese musical idioms, sung by the student choirs of Middlebury College, Castleton University, and Northern Vermont University.

College Community Chorus begins new season

The Middlebury College Community Chorus welcomes faculty, staff, and students to join us as we prepare for our annual Thanksgiving concerts (Nov. 17-18) with a program entitled A Song Arising. Regular rehearsals begin September 11 in Mead Chapel, and then continue on Sundays and Tuesdays, 7-8:30pm throughout the fall. (Note: rehearsal on 9/18 will be in Mahaney Ctr for the Arts 221).

Community Chorus in rehearsal

Community Chorus in rehearsal

As always, we welcome community neighbors and family members (high school age and up) to join us! Participants should plan to attend at least one rehearsal each week. We welcome all singers without audition who can follow a musical score. Our members travel from throughout the region to participate in this 150-year-old community tradition.

For additional information, check on the web at go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus or contact director Jeff Rehbach at 989-7355.

Please see below a listing of selections for this fall. We look forward to making music together as we explore this repertoire! Join us!

The power of music in our lives

  • Earth Song by Frank Ticheli, who writes, “The scorched earth cries out in vain, but music and singing have been my refuge.”
  • The Song Arising by Joseph Martin with his words, “Where there is sadness, where there is strife, let me sing harmony.”
  • Alway Something Sings by Dan Forrest with words by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I hear a skyborn music still: it sounds from all things old, it sounds from all things young.”
  • Vida Atrevida, a dramatic new 2018 setting of Chilean songwriter and activist Violeta Parra’s words, arranged by Middlebury’s Sam Guarnaccia: “Thank you, life, for giving me so much. You gave me laughter and you gave me tears. The two elements that make up my song, and your song, and everyone’s song, which is my very song.”

The world around us

  • Muusika by Estonian composer Pärt Uusberg: “Somewhere the original harmony must exist, hidden somewhere in the vast wilds…”
  • The Peace of Wild Things by Jake Runestad, a 2014 award-winning composition based on Wendell Berry’s poem.
  • I Dream a World by Connor Koppin, in a new setting of the text by Langston Hughes.

Reverently

  • Kyrie eleisonWolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s first choral work, scored for choir & string quartet.
  • Communio/Lux aeterna: the final movement from Mozart‘s powerful Requiem.
  • Illumination, a prayerful Latin text originating from 17th century Ireland, sensitively set by composer Michael McGlynn, arranger for the Celtic ensemble Anúna.

Celebration & Thanksgiving

  • O Be Joyful (Psalm 100) by British composer John Rutter
  • Hymn for America by Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus (a Thanksgiving favorite of the chorus)
  • How Can I Keep from Singing by longtime Vermont resident Gwyneth Walker
  • I Will Sing by African American singer-composer Rosephanye Powell in a toe-tapping gospel style, “When freedom rings, I will sing of the joy, of the peace, of the love that fills my heart.”

College Community Chorus Spring Concerts

Fifteen Middlebury students join the College Community Chorus and will take to the stage in Brandon and Middlebury on Mother’s Day Weekend for its annual spring concerts, this year with the theme “Moonlit Nights & Sun-filled Days.” Conductor Jeff Rehbach leads the 80-voice chorus as virtuoso pianist Timothy Guiles accompanies the ensemble. Rehbach notes that delightful classical, traditional, and popular music fills the hour-long program.

Community Chorus

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members all sing with the Chorus

College students hail from China, Zimbabwe, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, New York, Kentucky, and Maryland. Community members of the College Community chorus — including College alumni, as well as current and retired staff and faculty — travel for weekly rehearsals from throughout the region, including Cornwall, Bristol, Weybridge, Middlebury, New Haven, Leicester, Orwell, Brandon, Moriah NY, North Ferrisburgh, Monkton, Salisbury, and Vergennes. The group welcomes all singers who delight in this 150-year-old community tradition, hosted by Middlebury College.

Performances take place on Saturday evening, May 12, 7:30 pm, at the Brandon Town Hall, and on Sunday afternoon, 13, 3:00 pm at the Mahaney Center for the Arts, Robinson Concert Hall at Middlebury College. Donations at the door in Brandon support ongoing renovations and programming at the historic Town Hall, while the Middlebury concert is free admission.

As the choir singers process and gather on stage, they open the concert with Awake! Bright day from Richard Wagner’s famous opera Die Meistersinger. Following the quiet Evening Prayer from Englebert Humperdinck’s 1893 musical setting of Hansel and Gretel, the choir greets a new dawn with Behold the sun!, a chorus excerpted from one of Franz Joseph Haydn’s last major works, completed in 1801.

The program features music for the night by contemporary American composers Gwyneth Walker and Daniel Elder. Walker, who lived and farmed for many years in Vermont, seeks to capture the lyricism of the E. E. Cummings poem “after all white horses are in bed.” Elder writes his own lyrics and music for the gentle nocturnes entitled Ballade to the Moon and Lullaby.

From world music traditions, the choir takes up a new arrangement of Yonder Come Day, a spiritual from the Georgia Sea Islands, as well as a traditional song from Ghana that describes children’s games played beneath the bright moon. Popular tunes on the program include lyrical choral arrangements of Cole Porter’s Night and Day, Lennon & McCartney’s I’ll Follow the Sun (as arranged for the King’s Singers, an award-winning British a cappella ensemble), and Dolly Parton’s Light of a Clear Blue Morning by Craig Hella Johnson, conductor of the Grammy® award-winning ensemble Conspirare.

The concert concludes with a flair, as the choir sings Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Copland’s The Promise of Living followed by Meridian, a stirring work scored for piano solo and chorus, by noted contemporary composer Ola Gjeilo—premiered in Vermont just three weeks ago by the Chorus, the Middlebury Community Wind Ensemble, and pianist Tim Guiles.

 

Come join the Chorus!

College Community Chorus announces rehearsals for new season

College Community Chorus rehearsal

Rehbach leads students, staff, faculty and community members in rehearsal in Chorus rehearsal. Photo: Anastasiya Prokhorenko ’19

The Middlebury College Community Chorus announces a new season to prepare for its spring concerts, slated for performance in Brandon and Middlebury on Mother’s Day weekend May 12-13. Regular rehearsals are Tuesday and Sunday evenings from 7:00-8:30 p.m.  On Sunday February 11, the group will meet in the Mahaney Center for the Arts room 221. Rehearsals move to their regular location in Mead Chapel beginning Tuesday February 13.  The Chorus welcomes all who love to sing to come enjoy rehearsals and performances with us.

Conductor Jeff Rehbach notes that this concert season offers singers the opportunity to explore a variety of musical styles with texts that describe moonlit nights and sun-filled days, from classical works to spirituals and arrangements of twentieth-century popular songs for an enjoyable and entertaining program for the spring.

In a preview, he highlights this season’s program that includes music for the night written by contemporary American composers Gwyneth Walker and Daniel Elder. Walker, who lived for many years in Vermont, seeks to capture the lyricism of the E. E. Cummings poem “After all white horses are in bed.” Elder writes his own lyrics for his gentle nocturnes entitled “Lullaby” and “Ballade to the Moon.” The chorus will also prepare “Evening Prayer” from Humperdinck’s musical setting of Hansel and Gretel, and, as night turns to day, the morning chorale “Awake, bright day” from Wagner’s famous opera Die Meistersinger,  and Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Behold the sun” from The Seasons.

From world music traditions, the choir will take up a new arrangement of “Yonder Come Day”, a spiritual from the Georgia Sea Islands, as well as a traditional song from Ghana that describes children’s games beneath the bright moon. Popular tunes on the program include songs such as Lennon & McCartney’s “I’ll Follow the Sun” (as arranged for the King’s Singers, the award-winning British a cappella ensemble that performed in Middlebury just a few months ago), and lyrical choral arrangements of Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.”

In addition to the Mother’s Day weekend performances, members of the Chorus will also enjoy the opportunity to join the Middlebury Wind Ensemble this spring at its concerts on April 20 and 21. Featured will be Pulitzer prize-winning American composer Aaron Copland’s “The Promise of Living” scored for chorus and winds, and the Vermont premiere of “Meridian,” a stirring work scored for piano solo, winds, and chorus by noted contemporary composer Ola Gjeilo, with Tim Guiles as piano soloist.

Jeff Rehbach continues as director of the College Community Chorus, and Tim Guiles returns as the choir’s virtuoso accompanist. The chorus welcomes all interested singers (high schoolers and adults) to join the ensemble during the month of February. Participants should plan to attend at least one rehearsal each week. Numbering one hundred singers, the group is open without audition or mandatory fees to all singers who can follow a musical score. Its members travel from throughout the region to participate in this 150-year-old community tradition, hosted by Middlebury College. For up to date information, check on the web at go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus or contact Jeff at rehbach@middlebury.edu  or 989-7355.

College Community Chorus in concert Nov. 18-19

The Middlebury College Community Chorus takes to the Robison Concert Hall stage at Middlebury’s Mahaney Center for the Arts for its annual Thanksgiving concert, this year with the theme “Heart and Home.” Performances take place on Saturday evening, November 18, 7:00 pm, and on Sunday afternoon, November 19, 3:00 pm. Admission is free.

College Community Chorus rehearsal

Rehbach leads students and community members in rehearsal in Chorus rehearsal. Photo: Anastasiya Prokhorenko ’19

Conductor Jeff Rehbach notes that through a rich variety of historic and present-day music abounding with vivid writing for chorus and piano, the program evokes our longing for home, our heartfelt desire for peace and hope, as well as our joy in celebration and thanksgiving. Rehbach leads the 100-voice chorus as virtuoso pianist Timothy Guiles accompanies the ensemble.

The group delights in presenting music by Moira Smiley, who grew up in New Haven, Vermont, and now travels across the globe to share her music and songs. Stand in That River encourages us to “Come and stand in that river, current gentle and slow, send your troubles down-water, down on that water flow.”

The chorus reflects on life at home with These Green Hills, Vermont’s state song, in a new arrangement just written this past spring by Maarten van Ryckevorsel. The Road Home, by Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus, uses a tune from The Southern Harmony Songbook (1835) with new words: “There is no such beauty as where you belong; rise up, follow me, I will lead you home.”

The choir remembers those who have been a part of our lives with two works by contemporary American composers, Good Night, Dear Heart by Dan Forrest and Homage by Z. Randall Stroope. The first poignantly sets the words of a classic poem by Robert Richardson that Mark Twain notably placed on the headstone of his daughter who died in her early twenties. The second honors beloved parents and all who shape our lives.

Music wells up in our hearts with a passionate yet sensitive setting of I Dream a World by Langston Hughes, set by African-American composer Rosephanye Powell: “A world I dream, where black or white, whatever race you be, will share the bounties of the earth…and joy, like a pearl, attends the needs of all mankind.” Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo sets the ancient church text Ubi caritas (“Where charity and love are, God is there”) in a breath-taking setting that features solo piano alongside the chorus. Rosephanye Powell sets her newly composed song, I Will Sing, in a toe-tapping gospel style: “When freedom rings, I will sing of the love, of the peace, of the hope, of the joy that fills my heart.”

The program includes settings that depict a heavenly home with music from the 18th and 19th centuries: How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place by Johannes Brahms, and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God, grant eternal rest) by French composer Gabriel Fauré. The group will present Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant us Peace) from the Mass in B minor, one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s final compositions. The choir will also sing Jubilate Deo (O be Joyful) by the German composer Felix Mendelssohn, based on an historic psalm of thanksgiving.

Members of the College Community chorus travel for weekly rehearsals from throughout the region, including Cornwall, Weybridge, Middlebury, Ripton, Goshen, Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven, Waltham, Vergennes, N. Ferrisburgh, Charlotte, East Middlebury, Salisbury, Leicester, Brandon, Randolph, Orwell, and Shoreham. College students hail from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, China, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, Texas, and California. The group is open without audition to all singers who delight in participating in this 150-year-old community tradition, hosted by Middlebury College. For additional information, check on the web at http://go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus or contact director Jeff Rehbach at 989-7355.

College Community Chorus begins new season

We welcome students, staff and faculty, including retirees, to join the Middlebury College Community Chorus as we begin a new season to prepare our annual Thanksgiving concerts. We rehearse on Tuesday and Sunday evenings, beginning September 12, in Mead Chapel from 7:00-8:30pm. Concerts take place in Robison Concert Hall on Saturday evening, Nov. 18 and Sunday afternoon, Nov. 19.

Our fall 2017 program includes music of heart and home as well as celebration and thanksgiving. Selections from the European classical tradition include O be joyful by Felix Mendelssohn; How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place by Johannes Brahms; Agnus Dei from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem; and Dona Nobis Pacem, the final movement of J. S. Bach’s Mass in B minor.

Contemporary works include two new compositions by the amazing African American composer Rosephanye Powell, including the text I Dream a World by Langston Hughes and an upbeat gospel-style song I Will Sing; songs of remembrance by Z. Randall Stroope and Dan Forrest, including the poem Good Night, Dear Heart by Robert Richardson (Mark Twain placed its text on the tombstone of his beloved daughter Susy, when she died unexpectedly at age 24); Stand in that River by New Haven VT native Moira Smiley; and a new arrangement of the Vermont state song, These Green Hills.

Please join us before the end of this month for rehearsals once or twice a week, as your schedule permits. No auditions — just come sing with nearly 100 other singers from across the region. Invite College students in your classroom or workplace to join us as well as we come together to make music in community.

Premiere of a new choral work by Middlebury alumna Christina Whitten Thomas ‘01.5

Christina Whitten Thomas ‘01.5

Award-winning composer and Middlebury alumna Christina Whitten Thomas ‘01.5 returns to campus for the premiere of her new choral suite, Songs of Gold, on Friday evening, April 21, 2017, 7:30 p.m., in Robison Concert Hall at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Commissioned by the Vermont Choral Union (directed by Jeff Rehbach, music department, who also conducts the Middlebury College Community Chorus),  this dazzling work for eight-part chorus and flute includes texts by Vermont-based writer Abigail Carroll, 1950s Waterbury poet Jean Killary, and Middlebury faculty member Jay Parini.

Christina will also present a talk about her music and career as a composer since her graduation from Middlebury at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, in room 221 of the Mahaney Center for the Arts, free and open to the public.

The Friday evening concert celebrates the Vermont Choral Union’s  50th anniversary. James G. Chapman, who had previously taught in the music department at Middlebury College and conducted the College Choir, founded the Choral Union in 1967 at the University of Vermont. Today, its 36 singers from across the state take wing with soaring works from medieval times to the present. This 90-minute program encompasses works that bring to life texts from church and theater traditions, romance and the natural world, crossing the centuries from the European and North American continents. In addition to Songs of Gold, the program features works that Chapman introduced to audiences at Middlebury and UVM, including 18th-century psalm settings by historic Vermont figures Justin Morgan and Elisha West, and pieces by such noted composers as William Byrd, Heinrich Schütz, Johannes Brahms, Josef Rheinberger, Maurice Duruflé, Charles Villiers Stanford, Francis Poulenc, Samuel Barber, Will Todd, and Randall Thompson. Tickets ($12/$10/$6) will be available at the door or in advance at the College box office (go.middebury.edu/boxoffice).

Christina Whitten Thomas’s works have been performed throughout the United States including at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Disney Concert Hall. She has received commissions from the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers, the Denver Women’s Chorus, Vox Femina of Los Angeles, the Esoterics of Seattle, Melodia Women’s Choir, the Apollo Men’s Chorus, and the Vermont Choral Union. Her awards include first place in the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir competition, first place in the Los Robles Master Chorale competition, first place in the Park Avenue Christian Church competition, second place in the NATS Art Song Composition Award, the Sorel Conductor’s Choice award, and the Sorel Medallion. Her choral cycle Choral de Bêtes can be heard on Musica Sacra’s 2012 CD release Messages to Myself. In addition to her Middlebury B.A., Christina holds a M.M. in composition from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. She curently resides with her family in Pasadena, California, where she is also an active teacher and vocalist. More information can be found at www.christinawhitten.com.