Author Archives: Jeffrey Rehbach

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.

College Community Chorus Launches New Season

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 chorus singers

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 Nightone 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 (rehbach@middlebury.edu) or 802.989.7355 with any questions, and check out the Chorus and its history at go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus.

College Community Chorus celebrates Thanksgiving

One hundred singers will soon take their places on stage in the Robison Concert Hall at the Mahaney Center for the Arts as the Middlebury College Community Chorus presents its annual Thanksgiving concerts. These free, hour-long programs take place in a special performance on Saturday evening, November 19 at 7:00 p.m. and an encore presentation on Sunday afternoon, November 20 at 3:00 p.m.  Please note this year’s change in location from Mead Chapel to the Center for the Arts. All are welcome!

community chorus singers

College students and community members prepare for annual Thanksgiving concert. Photo: Anastasiya Prokhorenko, ’19

This season’s program includes historical works from the European choral tradition alongside breathtaking contemporary works written during the past decade. The songs feature celebratory psalm texts with a Thanksgiving theme, as well as music with words that reflect the changing seasons and a longing for justice and peace, important to so many people at this time.

The choir offers Chandos Anthem No. 9 by Baroque composer George Frederic Handel. Its four choruses – reminiscent of the spirited music found in his Messiah – contain dramatic shifts in textures and harmonies, scored for string orchestra and oboe. The program also includes Mozart’s expressive Ave verum corpus, a traditional text from the Roman Catholic tradition.

The chorus welcomes the change of seasons with music by Zachary J. Moore, one of a new generation of American choral composers. With beautiful melodies, he vividly paints the poem October Song, written by Wisconsin poet laureate Max Garland. In O Notte (O Night), composed earlier this year, distinguished conductor-composer Z. Randall Stroope dramatically scores selected phrases of a Michelangelo poem, “O night, in dreams you carry me,” for choir, piano, solo violin and cello.

Distinguished arranger, composer and conductor Craig Hella Johnson creates a lyrical musical setting the words of Mattie Stepanek’s Psalm of Life, written just before Thanksgiving 2003. Mattie, a published poet and peace advocate, died a month before his 14th birthday from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. From the Hebrew tradition, contemporary composer Allan Naplan sets the text of Al Shlosha D’varim: truth, justice and peace sustain the world. The inspirational words of Mother Teresa, “If we have not peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other,” provide the foundation for an award-winning 2010 work, All Works of Love, by Pacific Northwest composer Joan Szymko.

Conductor Jeff Rehbach notes that this program offers to listeners and performers alike vivid, dramatic, and expressive writing for chorus, piano, and chamber music ensemble. Local teachers who play with the Vermont Symphony, Champlain Philharmonic, and Burlington Civic Symphony orchestras join the chorus for this performance.

Members of the College Community chorus travel for weekly rehearsals from throughout the region, including

community chorus singers

College faculty, staff, and community members prepare for Thanksgiving concert. Photo: Anastasiya Prokhorenko ’19

Cornwall, Weybridge, Middlebury, Ripton, Bristol, Monkton, New Haven, Waltham, Vergennes, North Ferrisburgh, Charlotte, East Middlebury, Salisbury, Leicester, Brandon, Orwell, Shoreham, Randolph, Port Henry, Westport and Moriah. College students hail from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, West Virginia, Idaho, North Dakota, Florida, Costa Rica, China and Kenya.

Jeff Rehbach is in his seventeenth season as conductor of the College Community Chorus, and Timothy Guiles serves as the ensemble’s remarkable accompanist. The group welcomes without audition all singers who delight in participating in this 150-year-old community tradition, hosted by Middlebury College.

All welcome to join the College Community Chorus

All students, staff and faculty are welcome to join the Middlebury College Community Chorus as the choir starts to prepare for its annual fall concert, slated for performance on campus the weekend before Thanksgiving. Regular rehearsals are Tuesday and Sunday evenings from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in Mead Chapel, beginning September 13.

This season’s program includes historical works from the European choral tradition alongside breathtaking contemporary works written during the past decade. The songs feature celebratory psalm texts with a Thanksgiving theme, as well as music with words that reflect the changing seasons and a longing for justice and peace, important to so many people at this time.

The choir will prepare the Chandos Anthem No. 9 by Baroque composer George Frederic Handel. Its four choruses – reminiscent of the spirited music found in his Messiah – contain dramatic shifts in textures and harmonies, scored for string orchestra and oboe. The program also includes Mozart’s expressive Ave verum corpus, a traditional text from the Roman Catholic tradition.

The chorus welcomes the change of seasons with music by Zachary J. Moore, one of a new generation of American choral composers. With beautiful melodies, he vividly paints the poem October Song, written by Wisconsin poet laureate Max Garland. In O Notte (O Night), completed just a few months ago, distinguished conductor-composer Z. Randall Stroope dramatically scores selected phrases of poems by Michelangelo, “O night, in dreams you carry me where I desire,” and Friedrich Rückert, “Du bist die Ruh” (You are rest), for choir, piano, solo violin and cello.

Distinguished arranger, composer and conductor Craig Hella Johnson creates a lyrical musical setting the words of Mattie Stepanek’s Psalm of Life, written just before Thanksgiving 2003. Mattie, a published poet and peace advocate, died a month before his 14th birthday from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. From the Hebrew tradition, contemporary composer Allan Naplan sets the text of Al Shlosha D’varim: truth, justice and peace sustain the world. The inspirational words of Mother Teresa, “If we have not peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other,” provide the foundation for an award-winning 2010 work by Pacific Northwest composer Joan Szymko.

Conductor Jeff Rehbach notes that this program will offer singers the opportunity to explore a rich variety of styles of historic and present-day music, with vivid writing for chorus, piano, and chamber music ensemble. Rehbach begins his seventeenth season as director of the College Community Chorus, and Timothy Guiles returns as the choir’s virtuoso accompanist.

The choir welcomes all interested singers to join the ensemble during September. Participants should plan to attend at least one rehearsal each week. Numbering nearly 100 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 http://go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus or contact director Jeff Rehbach at 989-7355.

Midd Alumna Sally Olson ’03 presents Carpenters Tribute Concert

Vermont singer, actress and artist Sally Olson makes a special appearance in Middlebury to present “A Song For You” on Saturday evening, January 23, 7:00 p.m. at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Charter House Coalition, providing emergency shelter housing during the winter months and free community meals every day of the week throughout the year.
Sally is a graduate of Middlebury College (class of 2003), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. She has been acting and singing since childhood. Sally has also attended the acclaimed Circle in the Square Theatre School. She can be seen in local/regional commercials, theatre and cabaret performances.
This unique program draws on the Carpenters Tribute Concert that she originally performed in early 2015 with the Bill Reed Voice Studio, and has taken on tour throughout the state. In her tribute show, Sally performs the brother-sister duo’s greatest hits and covers. She also offers commentary on the history behind the Carpenters’ music, as well as Karen Carpenter’s rise to fame and her sudden and tragic death at the age of thirty-two, due to complications of anorexia nervosa. The Middlebury performance will be accompanied by Tim Guiles, who also provides back-up vocals, well known locally as music teacher, musical theater director, and accompanist of the College Community Chorus.
Through her tribute concert, Sally desires to honor Richard Carpenter’s musical genius and Karen Carpenter, one of the greatest female singers of all time. She incorporates authentic vintage costumes into her show to help recreate the world of the Carpenters. Reviewers of the show have noted that Sally Olson’s voice, appearance and stage-presence bear an uncanny resemblance to that of Karen Carpenter. Sally accepts this wonderful compliment and feels deeply honored to be able to pay tribute to the Carpenters through her singing. Sally notes “her strong affinity for the music of the Carpenters” and that she “relates to Karen and her soulful voice quality and sincerity. When Karen sings, it sounds likes she is experiencing everything for the first time.” The original production was conceived by Bill Reed (musical director & piano) and Sally Olson (artistic director & vocals). The set list includes many beloved Carpenters’ hits and covers that you’re sure to recognize, such as: Top of The World; We’ve Only Just Begun; Rainy Days And Mondays; (They Long To Be) Close To You; When I Fall in Love; At The End Of A Song; A Song For You; and Thank You For The Music.
 
Proceeds from the program (suggested admission $15, but any amount is welcome) will help the Charter House Coalition continue to provide ermergency overnight housing on frigid nights, and longer term housing at the Charter House in Middlebury for up to four families throughout the winter, in a warm, welcoming environment. Its meal programs – provided by area congregations, organizations and volunteers – serve more than 25,000 meals throughout the year, including homemade lunches every Monday through Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening suppers, Saturday morning breakfasts, and Sunday afternoon grill dinners. The Coalition also supports community housing on North Pleasant Street in Middlebury with five fully-furnished apartments, open all year, to help families in transition into independent living. The Coalition’s Farm-to-Table initiative raises and distributes about 5000 pounds of produce each year, used in the Charter House meal programs and donated to local food shelves. The Coalition extends sincere gratitude to CVUUS, one of the many area organizations that support its meal programs, for hosting this concert. Limited parking may be found at the Church; plenty of parking nearby adjacent to the high school football field.
You can catch a preview at www.carpenterstributeconcert.com on the web. Please join us for a wonderful evening of song and support this important community organization!
Sally Olson