This blog will provide additional information on the artists, programs, and genres presented by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series (MiddPAS) to enhance and build context for your audience experience.
We are so excited to welcome you to this unique choral sound bath experience! Below you will find important information about the concert. This one-of-a-kind event will be unlike any choral concert you’ve previously attended, so please take a few moments to read.
A list of what to bring with you – IMPORTANT!
What to expect and how to prepare for the experience
Things to keep in mind during the experience
Things to consider doing afterward to continue with your experience
A wonderful letter of explanation of the science behind sound healing from our singing member, Brooke Slemmer, MM, MT-BC, NMT
We hope you’ll love the event and we’re going to love presenting it for you.
Eye mask (recommended—some will be available from the ushers)
Your most open and authentic self (come as you are ♥)
Quality headphones, if listening to the stream at home
What To Expect & How To Prepare
This first-of-its-kind choral sound bath collaboration invites each participant to relax as singers and sound healing artists guide you through a restorative, energetically cleansing sound journey. A variety of traditional sound healing rituals will be woven throughout the carefully curated choral repertoire for a seamless 90-minute sonic experience designed for both individual and communal healing. If you have any questions about any of this information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Chorus Representative Sandra Garner or MAC Arts Events Manager Molly Andres.
Before you arrive, we encourage you to consider the following:
Refrain from alcohol and/or caffeine for 6-8 hours before the experience.
Stay hydrated throughout the day with plenty of water and electrolytes.
Take a moment to sit quietly for 2+ minutes and set an intention for your journey. This can happen through meditation and/or journaling.
Plan to wear clothing to maximize your comfort (something you’d wear to relax or stretch; layers recommended.)
The running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
Please know there is no late seating for this event. While the performance starts at 4:00 PM, please plan to come early and use the time to get comfortable in your reserved seat.
Sound healers navigating the room may exercise light touch during the sound bath. Consider if you will comfortable with this, as you’ll have the option of receiving a wristband to wear during the performance to indicate your preference.
Singers from the College Choir will be on stage on yoga mats.
Things to keep in mind during the experience
As you listen, you may find your mind wandering. This is normal. When you notice this, gently guide yourself back to the sounds you are hearing.
Some sounds may feel uncomfortable or unpleasant for you, and that is natural. Sound is not inherently good or bad. If you feel tension or anxiety, continue breathing and allow the sound to move through your body as it needs to. Often, discomfort means energy is moving away from a place where it no longer serves you.
We will be using scents towards the beginning of the journey.
Things to consider doing afterward to continue with your experience
After the experience, we recommend a variety of activities and prompts to assist with integration. Choose one or more:
Grounding foods, especially dark chocolate and/or blackberries, and soothing and hydrating beverages like herbal tea or lemon water: How might the sound journey have heightened your sense of taste?
Journaling: What did your experience bring up for you? What did it feel like in your body? What did you see behind your eyelids? Where did you go?
Light stretching and restorative yoga, ending in child’s pose.
Mindful walking in your home or neighborhood, finding new discoveries along the way: What small details are you noticing that haven’t been appreciated before? Make a list if you want.
Drawing: On a blank piece of paper, draw a large circle in the center. Then, design your experience with shapes, colors, images, etc.
Breathing and toning: Inhale through the nose for 4 beats, and exhale on a hum. Repeat to your desire. On the final few exhales, open to “ah.”
A Letter from Brooke Slemmer, MM, MT-BC, NMT
I am so excited, along with the rest of my choral family, to soon be holding space for you in our truly unique program. I am Brooke, a singer in the chorus, and also a Board-Certified Neurologic Music Therapist. I am honored to offer some thoughts about this program from the perspective of someone who utilizes music to help people in a very functional way.
Before meeting our resident Certified Sound Healers, Molly and Derek, I knew very little about the practice. From the surface, Music Therapy and Sound Healing look incredibly different. As a Music Therapist, I use the most easily perceptible parts of music (rhythm, melody, lyrics) to get my clients to work hard to achieve tangible goals, like improved speech or motor skills. But in a sound bath, a Sound Healer harnesses the micro-scale parts of music, like frequency and timbre, to promote wellness.
Despite the differences, I learned (from geeking out about music cognition with Molly and Derek) that our practices are based on the same foundation. The premise is this: something special happens in our brains when we are participating in a music experience. We don’t know everything about this yet, but we do know that music organizes your brain for optimal functioning.
How might you experience this as part of our audience? We know from Music Therapy research that our bodies entrain to music. This means our breathing, heart rate, and even systolic blood pressure matches the tempo of what we’re hearing, and the change is even greater if we are actively involved in the music-making. We hope that by surrounding you with our sound, we can get as close to that effect as possible without forcing you to perform with us. (Don’t fret.)
Through more research, we found that our actual brainwaves entrain too! When this electrical information hits our brain stem (the rhythm-obsessed part of the brain connected to the spine), it sends it on to the vagus nerve. After receiving such organized and pleasant stimulation, the vagus nerve helps to regulate our organs—especially the heart, lungs, and gut. The good feeling you get from music is not just in your head—it’s in your whole body.
My favorite thing you will experience is the sound of Molly’s singing bowls. You will notice that a lot of the music chosen for this program features dissonant harmonies, which mirrors what Molly does with these instruments.
To understand what happens neurologically when we hear harmonic clusters, we have to know that frequencies are measured in hertz. For example, the note “A” vibrates at 440 hertz. Right above that, we have the note “B flat” at around 466 hertz. When we hear two pitches that are that close together, our brain thinks it can “hear” the subtracted difference hovering underneath. Now, the difference between A and B flat would create a note that is 26 hertz, which is outside the hearing range for most people. But we can feel it—as a very slow rhythm. If our brainwaves entrain to this rhythm, it can slow our bodies to a state of deep meditation.
There’s also research about how finding ourselves in this meditative state as a group can promote a feeling of unity and bonding. I can’t think of a better way for Choral Chameleon to return to live performance for the first time since 2019. We hope you will find that this is just what you need after two and a half long years apart. We know it is for us.
Tune-Yards April 22, 2021 Proposing student: Francis Shiner ’23
Tune-Yards is an American, Oakland, California-based music project of musician Merrill Garbus, with long-time collaborator, bassist Nate Brenner. Garbus’s music draws from an eclectic variety of sources and utilizes elements such as loop pedals, ukulele, vocals, and lo-fi percussion. Garbus described their sound as “a patchwork of sound snippets, of history in a present tense. It is a composer’s commitment to the preservation of stories, however small and unassuming.” Merrill Garbus is a musician, producer and composer who slams, wails, strums and shakes with her band, Tune-Yards and will speak to students about composition, music making during the pandemic, decolonizing Western music, and much more.
Tuesday, February 18–Sunday, February 23, 2020 Sara Shelton Mann Rothrock Residency Proposed by Sam Kann ’20
Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund, Middlebury Dance Program, and Middlebury Department of Music. More information at go/mann.
Being in the Body – 3 Day Workshop Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; February 18, 19, and 20 – 4:30-6:30 PM (FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC; MUST ATTEND ALL THREE SESSIONS) Mahaney Arts Center, Dance Theatre What is holding the being? What is holding the body? What is your set point? What is your zero point? Participants in this 3 day workshop will engage in communication through touch, sensing, energy exploration, physical puzzles and what can be imagined. The process is directed, specific and open for your uniqueness. Come bask in the weight body, sensing body and spirit in space. Open to all. Registration at go/mann and participation in all sessions required. Solo Neutral Follow: A Study in Choice – Performance Lab Friday, February 21, 2020 – 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM Saturday, February 22, 2020 – 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM Performance: Saturday, February 22 – 7:30 PM Mahaney Arts Center, Dance Theatre (MIDDLEBURY STUDENTS ONLY; MUST ATTEND 3 DAY WORKSHOP, BOTH LAB SESSIONS & SATURDAY PERFORMANCE) Are you in your body? Someone else’s? Or in the “in between?” Sara Shelton Mann will lead students in an intensive, 2 day performance lab, culminating in a presentation the evening of Saturday, February 22. Solo Neutral Follow is a basic study in creating radical space. It is a training of focus and concentration and multidirectional attention. You will sweat. You will find freedom. Registration at go/mann and participation in all sessions required.
The Edge of Balance – Master Class Sunday, February 23, 2020 – 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Mahaney Arts Center, Dance Theatre (FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC) San Francisco-based choreographer, performer and teacher Sara Shelton Mann leads a two hour class open to all levels. The study of bones, muscles and weighted nuts and bolts teach us the delicacy and strength of weight and space. We slow down action until it becomes silence in and of itself. The breath moves the heart, and we move with it. No registration required.
PERFORMANCE Saturday, February 22, 2020 – 7:30 PM Sara Shelton Mann, “Raine/Vortex” + “Middlebury Performance Lab” Mahaney Arts Center, Dance Theatre As part of the her Middlebury College Rothrock Residency, San Francisco-based choreographer Sara Shelton Mann presents two works in one evening: the culmination of an intensive performance process with Middlebury College students followed by “Raine/Vortex,” an evolving collaboration between Sara Shelton Mann and Jesse Zaritt. Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund, Middlebury Dance Program, and the Middlebury Department of Music. Free.
Our 100th anniversary season in 2019–2020 coincides with other milestones that are reflected in the programming—commemorating Beethoven’s 250th birth year, and raising women’s voices in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote—plus we’ll premiere new works, debut new artists, and connect with performers vital to the series’ development. The season, by the numbers:
Almost 70 individual artists hailing from over a dozen countries
5 collaborative performances with world-renowned artists and/or ensembles
More than 4 weeks of residency activities
4 commissions or co-commissions of new works
2 world premieres and 1 Vermont premiere
Season details will be released in mid-to-late summer.
Friday, April 19, 2019 7:30 PM, Mahaney Arts Center, Robison Hall Indie-roots trailblazers, The Mammals, are no strangers to Middlebury, as frequent performers at Festival on the Green. This Americana quintet is known for just the right amount of guitar grit, soothing harmony, barn-burning fiddle, retro grooves, and storytelling savvy. Equal parts musicians and activists, The Mammals’ campus show will include selections from newest album Sunshiner, highlighting issues surrounding climate change. Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund. Free.
This student-initiated Rothrock Residency is hosted by Fiona McCarey ’19.
Friday, April 19, 2019 – 3:00 PM Being Private in Public: A Performance Skills Toolkit with Ruth Ungar Mahaney Arts Center, Room 221
Would you like to stand on stage and deliver a song with the same confidence as when you sing it at home in your shower? Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ruth Ungar of The Mammals leads this workshop where participants will build a toolkit of personalized performance tricks for turning stage fright into stage presence. In a supportive space, participants will take turns on “stage,” where they’ll explore everything BUT the actual singing: what the song means, what to do with their hands, breathing, identifying current strengths, and finding new ways to re-connect to pure joy and truth. The class promises to be ”super deep and super fun.” Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund. Free
Student Rothrock Proposal:
Artist/Ensemble: The Mammals Proposing Student (s): Fiona McCarey ’19 Residency Date(s): Friday, April 19, 2019 Summary: Indie-roots trailblazers, The Mammals, are a high-octane Americana quintet from New York’s Hudson Valley—carrying on the work of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie—with a deep original repertoire, searing American roots sound, and a message of hope for humanity. A regular at Middlebury’s mid-summer Festival on the Green, The Mammals have a strong local bond and loyal following. Self-identifying as “subversive acoustic traditionalists” or a “party band with a conscience,” the ensemble excels in both its musicality and activism—and their newest album raises awareness on issues related to climate change. Outreach during their one-day visit will be limited, but may include workshops in harmony singing, songwriting technique, performance skills, or instrumental lessons.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 – 7:30 PM Mahaney Arts Center, Dance Theatre Alison Clancy is a NYC-based multidisciplinary artist working across the time based mediums of dance, music, and visual media. Her artistic endeavors are centered around the pursuit of beauty and catharsis, incorporating ritual practices and visual design into the forms of contemporary ballet and popular music, to create an otherworldly highway—the lost intersection where we search for ourselves in the shadows. Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fun; this student-initiated Rothrock Residency is hosted by Annie Aguilar ’19. Free
Please also join Alison for her open master class on Monday, April 1!
Dance and Musicality Master Class by Alison Clancy Monday, April 1, 2019 4:30 PM, Mahaney Arts Center, Dance Theatre The class begins with a gentle physical warm up, moving into improvisational techniques and phrasework, with a special emphasis paid to musicality. Alison Clancy is a multidisciplinary artist working across the time based mediums of dance, music, and visual media, in pursuit of beauty and catharsis. Clancy has danced for ten seasons with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and tours internationally with ZviDance. She composes music for theater and film and has released albums under the monikers Psycho Tyko, Loving You, HUFF THIS!, and Electric Child. All levels welcome. Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund. Free
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw will be in residence April 10-11, 2018, as part of a student-initiated Rothrock Residency. Proposed by Annie Beliveau ’18 and Tevan Goldberg ’18, the residency plan includes class visits to electronic music, collaborative improvisation, and dance; consults with student composers; and rehearsals with Middlebury students while Shaw is on campus. Public events include two discussions and a concert of Shaw’s original works as outlined below.
Campus outreach is sponsored by the Rothrock Family Fund for Experiential Learning in the Performing Arts, established in 2011, which supports opportunities that broaden the scope of Middlebury students’ experience in the performing arts. The residency is co-sponsored by Middlebury College’s Ross Commons, Chellis House, and the Department of Music.
Composer Caroline Shaw: From Pulitzer to Kanye
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 – 4:30 PM Axinn Center, Room 229
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw as she discusses blurring genre boundaries and collaboration in music making. Shaw sings with vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, plays violin with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, has composed and performed with Kanye West, and recently appeared on the Amazon TV series “Mozart in the Jungle.” Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund, Ross Commons, Chellis House, and the Department of Music. Free. See associated events on April 11.
Lunch Discussion with Composer Caroline Shaw
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – 12:15 PM Chellis House
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, vocalist, and chamber musician Caroline Shaw for an informal discussion about the historical role of women in classical music and the work of women today to break through the musical glass ceiling. Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund, Ross Commons, Chellis House, and the Department of Music. Free. See associated events on April 10 and 11.
Caroline Shaw in Concert
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 – 8:00 PM Mahaney Center for the Arts, Robison Hall
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw caps her Middlebury residency with an evening of her music, in collaboration with Middlebury College vocal students. In addition to being the youngest-ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, Shaw sings with the Grammy-award winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, plays violin with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, scored the soundtrack for the feature film To Keep the Light, and has collaborated with Kanye West. Sponsored by the Rothrock Family Residency Fund, Ross Commons, Chellis House, and the Department of Music. Free. See associated events on April 10 and 11.