Tag Archives: chorus

College Community Chorus presents Spring Concert, Sunday, May 5

The 90 members of the Middlebury Community Chorus present their spring concert on Sunday, May 5. Most all the works on the program receive their first-ever Vermont performance at the 3pm concert.  Conductor Jeff Rehbach remarks, “We hope the music and lyrics at our spring concert—spanning the globe and from across the centuries—will lift spirits as spring and summer return to Vermont. As the lyrics of our songs suggest, within our singing we can hear words of healing, the melding of the parts to whole, the very language of the soul; any song we sing every word will rhyme, running through the summer sunshine!”

Middlebury Community Chorus
Students, alumni, community members enjoy rehearsal (photo: Silvia Cantu)

The choir welcomes guest violinist Romy Munkres, a Middlebury Union High School junior and the Young Tradition Vermont 2018 contest winner. She will play solo fiddle as the chorus accompanies her in a traditional Norwegian song, Gropen, a lively dance tune. From Celtic traditions, the ensemble offers Aisling (meaning ‘dream’ or ‘vision’) scored for solo violin and gently accompanied by the choir and piano.

The program features pieces in contrasting styles by American composers Gwyneth Walker and Susan LaBarr who set the poetry of Sara Teasdale for the songs Refuge and Grace Before Sleep, as well as music by composer Kyle Pederson, a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, who combines Arabic and English texts in Hands are Knockin’.

Also on the program, Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo’s song The Rose lyrically portrays the this flower’s beauty; Irish composer Michael McGlynn’s Sunshine joyfully celebrates the coming of summer, while Haitian-American composer Sydney Guillaume’s Kanaval portrays the festive atmosphere of a mardi gras celebration in his homeland. Music faculty member Damascus Kafumbe adds vibrant color to this piece with special percussion instrumentation.The program includes dynamic choruses from Handel’s rarely performed The Triumph of Time and Truth – a work based on one of his earliest Italian oratorios, and then rewritten in the final years of his life. The choir will also sing Handel’s lovely Music, Spread Thy Voice Around. In these pieces, College students, staff, and community members sing solo parts, including Harper Baldwin ’19, Hannah Resnick ’21, Tahira Hasan ’21, Mingjui Gao ’21, Betty Kafumbe, Anna de Boer, and Louise Whalen Wright.

Chorus members hail from nearly two dozen towns throughout the Champlain Valley, and with student members from across the globe. Jeff Rehbach conducts, with Tim Guiles accompanying at the piano.


College Community Chorus begins new season

The Middlebury College Community Chorus announces a new season as its singers prepare for their annual spring concert, with an intriguing mix of pieces about time, seasons, and places. Regular rehearsals take place on Sunday and Tuesday evenings from 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the college campus, beginning January 27.

Middlebury Community Chorus

Students, alumni, community members enjoy rehearsal before last fall’s concert (photo: Silvia Cantu)

Rehearsals from January 27 through February 12 take place at the Mahaney Arts Center (room 221). As of February 17, rehearsals move to Mead Chapel. Historic, traditional, and contemporary music from across the globe will fill the hour-long program slated for performance the first weekend in May.

On this spring’s program, the choir will sing Gropen, a lively traditional Norwegian tune arranged for chorus with fiddle. Young Tradition Vermont award-winning high school student Romy Munkres from Cornwall VT will play with us. We also will perform Sunshine, an upbeat tune about blue sky and summer time, set by Irish composer Michael McGlynn. Also by McGlynn, we will offer Aisling, a quiet Celtic tune. Aisling means ‘dream’ or ‘vision’ and the work features a solo instrumental part that Romy will play.

Kanaval, a festive, fun work by Sydney Guillaume (born in Haiti, now living in the U.S.) depicts mardi gras in Haiti with a mix of tunes and rhythms influenced by traditional Haitian culture. Hands are Knockin’ includes words in both English and Arabic, a song by Kyle Pederson (who earned a master of fine arts degree in Vermont), written for an international school in Muscat, the capital of Oman, that asks if we will open our doors to all people.

In differing musical styles, we will prepare three newly composed songs with poetry by Sara Teasdale and Christina Rosetti, including Refuge, a radiant piece completed in 2015 by long-time Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker; Grace Before Sleep, a sensitive setting by Missouri-based composer Susan LaBarr; and The Rose,. a gentle tune with flowing piano accompaniment, by Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo that portrays the picturesque beauty of this flower as it blossoms.

The program includes splendid historic choruses from a little known work by George Frederic Handel entitled The Triumph of Time and Truth, including a “Hallelujah” chorus (though not the one that many people know from “The Messiah”!) We will also sing one of Handel’s most beautiful choruses, Music Spread Thy Voice Around.

The choir invites new members to join us as we enjoy making music together. Participants should plan to attend at least one rehearsal each week. Numbering nearly 100 singers, the group welcomes without audition all who can follow a musical score and carry a tune accurately. Its members travel from throughout the region to participate in this 150-year-old community tradition, hosted by Middlebury College.

Jeff Rehbach continues in his nineteenth consecutive season as director of the College Community Chorus, and Timothy Guiles returns as the choir’s virtuoso accompanist.

For additional information, check on the web at go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus or send an inquiry to rehbach@middlebury.edu or 989-7355.

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 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.