Arts & Leisure

Community Chorus welcomes new voices

THE MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE Community Chorus begins it’s spring season on Feb. 4. New and returning members, high-school aged and adults are welcome to participate in this free, no-audition-necessary ensemble.

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College Community Chorus invites singers to join the ensemble for a new season. This year marks chorus conductor Jeff Rehbach’s 20th years with the group. Selections for the spring performances will highlight favorite pieces from past performances.
Rehbach welcomes new and returning members, high-school aged and adults, to Tuesday and Sunday evening rehearsals, 7-8:30 p.m. Rehearsals on Feb. 4 and 9 take place in the Mahaney Arts Center (room 221) on the college campus, and move to Mead Chapel beginning Feb. 11. Virtuoso pianist Tim Guiles accompanies the chorus, with performances slated for Saturday evening, May 9, at the Brandon Town Hall, and Sunday afternoon, May 10, in the concert hall at Middlebury College.
From among some 300 historical and contemporary choral works that the community chorus has performed since the year 2000, the choir’s singers during the past month recommended numerous titles that they have particularly enjoyed. Rehbach, in turn, has chosen over a dozen works to create a special 90-minute program for this spring’s performances. He notes that the selections weave together songs that give voice to the paths that our lives take, and to the light that love and hope bring to our world.
The program will primarily feature works written from the mid-twentieth century through the beginning of the current century. The choir will reprise music by Middlebury composers Peter Hamlin and Sam Guarnaccia that it has been honored to premiere and perform during the past two decades. It will sing selections from Hamlin’s “Reflections of the Sky” (written for the college bicentennial in 2000) that give expression to our dreams and life’s experiences; and Guarnaccia’s setting of “Vida atrevida” (“Courageous Life”) written for Middlebury’s Spanish Language School two years ago, that expresses gratitude for life in the world around us and love of one another.
The program includes songs of reflection and our place in the world, such as the serene setting of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” by American composer Randall Thompson. “In Sure on this Shining Night,” by Morten Lauridsen evokes the poetry of James Agee. And Randall Stroope portrays the strength of enduring love and faithfulness in “Omnia Sol.”
The choir will also sing some of its favorites from folk and world music traditions that portray the seasons of our lives, such as Paul Halley’s lyrical choral arrangement of Pete Seeger’s “To My Old Brown Earth.” A poem by Rudyard Kipling, “The Seal Lullaby,” gently captures the love a mother, in a setting Eric Whitacre composed for a motion picture score. Alongside the sounds of “Enjura,” an African song that welcomes rain in villages across the landscape, the chorus will sing Craig Hella Johnson’s inspiring setting of “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon. We also will offer his delicately scored “Requiem” by Eliza Gilkyson, written to honor those whose lives have been lost in the midst of calamity.
The program draws on historic texts that depict charity and love with the harmonically rich settings of “Set Me as a Seal upon your Heart” by Minnesota composer René Clausen and “Ubi caritas et amor” by Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo. From the classical tradition, we sing of light eternal and peace in “Lux aeterna” from Mozart’s “Requiem.”
In addition, to continue Rehbach’s commitment to performing recently written works, the choir will sing pieces by Vermont singer-songwriters who encourage resilience in our time: “Stand in That River and Rise To It Now” by New Haven native and Bristol composer Moira Smiley, and “Hope Lingers On” by Lissa Schneckenburger who lives in Brattleboro.
The program will conclude with “Kanaval,” an exhilarating work by Haitian-American composer Sydney Guillaume that celebrates community and the joy of life.
For more information, leave a message for conductor Jeff Rehbach at (802) 989-7355 or [email protected].

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