Middlebury

 

College Community Chorus


College Community Chorus – Students, alumni, staff, faculty, and community members join together to sing classical works alongside newly composed choral music and arrangements of traditional and popular songs, culminating in a performance in Mead Chapel each semester. 

Students often note that this 90-voice chorus provides a place not only to sing and explore music together, but to make life-long friends with others from on- and off-campus, and to take a break and feel a sense of accomplishment from rehearsal to rehearsal leading up to our concerts!

Join us for rehearsals – no auditions – on Sundays or Tuesdays at 7pm in Mead Chapel. The Chorus may also be taken for credit as MUSC0250C.  Email conductor Jeff Rehbach, rehbach@middlebury.edu for more information, or simply come to a rehearsal!


 

Spring 2014 season

College Community Chorus

A special early Spring concert with the Champlain Philharmonic
Saturday evening, April 5, 2014,  7:30pm
Grace Congregational Church, Rutland. Tickets at the door.

Sunday afternoon, April 6, 2014, 3:00 pm
Mahaney Center for the Arts, Middlebury College
(tickets in advance at the box office or at the door)

Sunday evening, May 4, 2014, 7:30 pm
We offer some of our favorite pieces from the past, followed by a performance by
The Vermont Choral Union

Mead Chapel
(tickets at the door)

This past Fall:
A Thanksgiving Celebration

Sunday, November 24, 2013, 3:00 pm
Mead Chapel, Middlebury College, free


Our May 4, 2014 program, with the Vermont Choral Union

A special Sunday evening spring concert on May 4 highlights two community-based choral ensembles, the Vermont Choral Union and the Middlebury College Community Chorus. The concert takes place at Mead Chapel on the college campus at 7:30 p.m. The Choral Union makes its first appearance in Middlebury under the direction of Jeff Rehbach in this performance, while the Community Chorus returns to the Chapel for its annual May concert.

The program opens with inspirational American choral works performed by the Community Chorus: Omnia Sol by Z. Randall Stroope; The Ground by Norwegian-born Ola Gjeilo; and Sure on This Shining Night by Morten Lauridsen. Tim Guiles accompanies the chorus, in these works whose melodies and harmonies deeply touch both performers and listeners. The eighty members of the Community Chorus come from communities throughout Addison, Rutland, and Chittenden counties.

The 35 Choral Union singers open their program entitled "There is Sweet Music" with joyful Renaissance and early Baroque motets by European composers Palestrina, Sweelinck, and Schütz as the ensemble members, quoting texts from Psalms, "make a joyful noise" and "sing a new song."

The program continues with music by Brahms, Elgar, and Thompson. Johannes Brahms composed the three richly sonorous songs of his opus 42, scored for six voice parts, during the Romantic era. In the first decade of the twentieth century, English composer Edward Elgar uniquely arranged Tennyson's text "There is Sweet Music" with beautiful melodies and surprising harmonies as a four-part men's chorus sings in a key just a half step away from the women's four-part chorus. Thirty years later, distinguished American composer Randall Thompson, inspired by the painting "The Peaceable Kingdom" by American artist Edward Hicks, composed an extended work on texts from Isaiah, including "Ye Shall Have a Song," also scored for eight-part chorus.

The Choral Union has the honor of premiering "Ave Verum Corpus" by Northfield, Vt. composer Dennis Báthory-Kitsz in this concert. Báthory-Kitsz composed this work in late 2013 in memory of distinguished British composer John Tavener, who passed away in November. Tavener's works often reflect his orthodox spirituality, as can be heard in the "Song for Athene" that will also be performed in this program (that song was heard worldwide as part of the memorial service for Princess Diana). The new Báthory-Kitsz work sets an ancient Latin hymn text in a hushed, ethereal manner, with the voices seemingly suspended as they gradually shift from one note to the next. The composer says, "Sometimes mundane events produce ethereal results." He reports that his setting of "Ave Verum Corpus" arose from an argument on Facebook about the merits of John Tavener’s music. "I claimed that any competent composer could write like Tavener, and aimed to prove it—though when the composing began, I was quickly drawn into the argument from the other side," Báthory-Kitsz noted. Within a few measures, the composer says, he dropped the 'Tavener way' and followed his own path.

Violinists Raymond Karl Malone and Patricia Fitzgerald, violist Paul Reynolds, and cellist Michael Close join the Choral Union for the premiere of the Báthory-Kitsz work. They also accompany the choir for contemporary American composer Eric Whitacre's delightful "Five Hebrew Love Songs." Whitacre originally scored these for violin and soprano Hila Plitmann, who wrote the texts. He remembers, "Each of the songs captures a moment that Hila and I shared together. These songs are profoundly personal for me, born entirely out of my new love for this soprano, poet, and now my beautiful wife, Hila Plitmann."

Michael Close last accompanied the Choral Union on cello in 2012 for Ola Gjeilo’s "O Magnum Mysterium." He observes, "the opportunity to play solo cello with a large a cappella chorus does not come up often. The sound of string instruments and voices together is something special. I am very much looking forward to this year's concert."

Conductor Jeff Rehbach notes, "This program highlights the idea that something new may always be heard in music: the unique settings of ancient texts by masters of early music; the wondrous sonority of nineteenth and early twentieth-century music written for six to eight voice parts that masterfully bring poetry to life; and the exquisite melodies and extraordinary harmonies of contemporary choral works."

The Vermont Choral Union, founded in 1968 by the late UVM professor James Chapman, has long been noted for its diverse repertoire of classical and contemporary choral works. It currently numbers 35 singers who hail from Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille, and Addison counties. Singers gather once a week to explore a diverse repertoire in rehearsals they describe as challenging, restorative, joyous, collaborative, rewarding, and uplifting. The Middlebury College Community Chorus traces its origins to the Middlebury Musical Institute, founded in the 1850s.

The Choral Union also performs its program at the McCarthy Arts Center on the campus of St. Michael's College on Saturday evening, May 3, also at 7:30 p.m.

This season's Choral Union performances are supported by a Vermont Arts Council / National Endowment for the Arts grant. Tickets at the door are $15 general admission, $10 seniors, FREE for Middlebury College students. See www.vtchoralunion.org and go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus for more information about the ensembles and their programs.

Our recent April 2014 program, with the Champlain Philharmonic

With the Champlain Philharmonic we offered a special concert in early April. The Champlain Philharmonic includes players from throughout Addison County and beyond, and we delighted in the opportunity for our two community ensembles to join forces. The program featured a new orchestration of Reflections of the Sky, written by Professor Peter Hamlin '73 for the College's bicentennial. That work includes texts by Langston Hughes and Middlebury faculty members Julia Alvarez, Robert Pack, and Jay Parini. Also on the program was a variety of masterworks for chorus and orchestra, including beloved opera choruses and by Giuseppi Verdi (such as Va, pensiero from Nabucco; the famous "Anvil Chorus" from Il Trovatore) along with delightful selections from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers and HMS Pinafore


 

Middlebury's Annual Messiah Sing


Dec. 21, 2014, at 2:00pm at the Middlebury Congregational Church (corner of Route 7 and Main St.)

Messiah Sing

For more than 25 years, friends and neighbors travel to downtown Middlebury to participate in the Messiah Sing, sponsored by the College Community Chorus and led by its conductor, Jeff Rehbach.

Once again this year the tradition continues! Music scores are provided (or bring your own!) for singers; if you play a string instrument, flute/oboe, bassoon, or baroque trumpet, orchestra parts are also available at the reading. Donation requested at the door ($5 adult / $10 family).

In addition to choruses, some of the arias from the work are sung by members of our community and college faculty, including, during the past years, Jessica Allen, Leila McVeigh, Grace Weber, sopranos; Heidi Willis, Erin Grainger, altos; François Clemmons, tenor; Joe McVeigh, Jeff Buettner, basses. And, each year, the reading features a harpsichord made by Robert Hicks of Lincoln, VT, in 2011 played by Cynthia Huard, and in 2012 by Larry Hamberlin.

For more information, contact Jeff Rehbach at rehbach@middlebury.edu or 802.989.7355 (feel free to leave a message).

Choral selections at the reading include:
And the glory of the Lord
And he shall purify
O thou that tellest
For unto us a child is born
Glory to God
Surely he hath borne our grief
All we like sheep
Lift up your heads
Hallelujah
Since by man came death
Worthy is the Lamb...Amen