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We welcome all who love to sing to join in rehearsals at the start of a new season, as we prepare music for our spring concerts in early May. You’ll have an opportunity to explore uplifting music that celebrates the wonder of star-filled nights and an awakening to new possibilities, from a rarely heard song by Beethoven to traditional African music and breathtaking new works by contemporary American composers.
Community members and College staff and faculty rehearse in Mead Chapel
College faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members rehearse together on Sunday and Tuesday evenings, 7-8:30 p.m. We begin on Feb. 5, 7 & 12 in Mahaney Center for the Arts (room 221); on and after Feb. 14 rehearsals move to Mead Chapel.
Concerts are slated for Saturday evening, May 6 (Brandon Town Hall) and Sunday afternoon, May 7 (Robison Hall, Mahaney Center for the Arts). We ask singers to join no later than February 21 and to attend at least one rehearsal each week.
Here’s a preview of the program:
Two beautifully crafted classical works that speak of hope in the midst of grief: Elegischer Gesang by Ludwig van Beethoven and Let nothing ever grieve thee by Johannes Brahms.
Inspired by the legend of the phoenix, contemporary Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo and poet Charles Silvestri recently wrote Across the vast, eternal sky, scored for piano and string quartet. ‘This is my grace, to be restored, born again, in flame; do not despair that I am gone away; I will appear again when the sunset paints flames across the vast eternal sky.’
The traditional song Shosholoza originated among migrant works traveling from Zimbabwe to work in South African mines. Featured in the movie Invictus, its meaning may come from a combination of both Ndebele and Zulu words meaning to push forward, endeavor, or strive.
American composer Randall Thompson creates a stirring setting of Robert Frost’s poem Choose something like a star. ‘It asks of us a certain height, so when at times the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far, we may choose something like a star to stay our minds on and be staid.’
Thirty-year-old composer Daniel Elder recently completed an energetic arrangement of Sara Teasdale’s poem May Night. ‘The spring is fresh and fearless and every leaf is new… Here in the moving shadows I catch my breath and sing—My heart is fresh and fearless and over-brimmed with spring.’
Two settings of a James Agee text, entitled Sure on this Shining Night: one by 20th-century American composer Samuel Barber and the second, an expressive arrangement by award-winning contemporary composer Morten Lauridsen. ‘Sure on this shining night of star made shadows round, kindness must watch for me this side the ground…’
The Awakening, with words and music by pianist-composer Joseph M. Martin. He portrays a dream in which no choir remains ‘to sing to change the world, only silence…’ But then we ‘Awake! All voices join as one! Let music live!’
Contact conductor Jeff Rehbach (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 802.989.7355 with any questions, and check out the Chorus and its history at go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus.
National Mentoring Month, NMM for short, was created by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR in 2002. This month aims to focus national attention on the need for mentors, highlighting how we all – individuals, business, government agencies, schools, faith communities, and nonprofits – can do our part. For the past 14 years, NMM has celebrated mentoring and the positive effect it can have on young lives with the goals of 1) raising awareness of mentoring in its various forms, 2) recruiting individuals to mentor, and 3) promoting the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring. This year, NMM’s theme is “Mentor in Real Life”, lending way to discussion of mentoring’s real life benefits. In Vermont, the organization Mobius: Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership is an NMM ambassador.
This month works to celebrate and set apart the special role that mentors play in the lives of others through various events and days of gratitude. All the while, we must remember that our involvement, gratitude, and excitement for volunteerism and mentorship cannot be contained to a single month, and instead carries us throughout the entire year. So, with one week left to this special month, go forth: thank the mentors in your life and consider stepping up as a mentor in the life of someone else!
When people ask me what I do with our compañero, I tell them honestly that we just chat. As part of the Juntos Compañeros program, two other Middlebury students and I go to visit a farmworker named Gustavo every Friday for a couple of hours. I often get some confused looks and uncertainty about what the purpose behind “just chatting” is.
Sometimes we practice English words and phrases and work on specific things like communicating with staff at the bank or post office to send money back to his hometown in Tabasco, Mexico. Other times we will talk about the movie he was just watching on his “dia de descanso” (rest day) and get into a conversation about pop culture, television shows, and our favorite fútbol (soccer) teams. Most of the time though, the conversation slips into how he is doing day to day. If he’s warm enough when he goes out to milk in the early morning in the winter. If his employer has increased his payment above minimum wage at all. Gustavo puts a face to the issue. As an undocumented migrant farmworker in Vermont he works long untraditional hours, he is paid low wages, and he suffers hard conditions on a family dairy farm.
We are by no means solving the issues that Gustavo faces by just chatting. We are not confronting the crisis of immigration. We are not doing anything that would be published in the newspaper as revolutionary engagement in the community, but I think our little nuggets of conversation in broken English and Spanish provide some form of companionship and insight for both of us. It’s fun to talk about soccer and TV and our favorite foods. It’s two hours for Gustavo that don’t revolve around the farm’s milking schedule and two hours for us that don’t revolve around squeezing in lunch at Proctor between class and meetings. Just chatting lets us all take a break and just exist with one another for a while. It’s not the structural change that’s needed with immigration, but it feels like a little baby step to creating solidarity and a partnership across difference.