Saturday, January 3, 2015

New York New York!

Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 6:30 pm at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Itasca Community Chorus starts the countdown for our tour to Carnegie Hall April 8-16, 2015.  When we began this process in May, little did we realize how quickly the time would fly. 

In addition to the Ralph Vaughn Williams' arrangement of Dona Nobis Pacem, which those on tour will sing with the national mass choir of 250 voices with full orchestra on the Carnegie stage, April 12, the full chorus will be singing a number of Broadway tunes.  Director Sam Evans rattled these off for us last Tuesday evening at the Magnum viewing gathering, but to see them for yourselves, we'll need you to come a little early to sign out music for the April 25th? concert at Greenway Auditorium in Coleraine. 

We're especially looking for tenors and basses so if you think you'd like to sing, try us out.  We have experts to help everyone sound better than you ever thought you could.  And the fun you'll have as you practice and socialize with members of Itasca Community Chorus. 

For more details email Sam:  Itasca Community

Thursday, November 13, 2014

O, Magnum Mysterium

Here's your chance.  You too can roll up all the darkness in life, squeeze it into a ball until it melds into new relationships, and feel it emanate bright, peaceful rays.  Join the Itasca Community Chorus in concert Nov. 30 at 4:00 pm at the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids. "O, Magnum Mysterium"  explores the mystery of the advent season in classic and contemporary choral compositions from Lauridsen, John Rutter, and Paul Christianeon among others.

Morten Lauridsen's "O, Magnum Mysterium"  was composed for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The arrangement sets the ancient Latin text meaning "O, Great Mystery" against the contemporary dissonant chords. Those dense chords then give way to a rising line of awe as the animals contemplate the birth of a new babe in their midst. 

Lauridsen is in the business of building relationships.  For this number he juxtaposes the poverty and filth of the stable with the richness and wonder of the Christmas season. These bursts of light and peace exploding out of darkness are becoming Lauridsen's trademark.  Perhaps this goes back to his early years when he saw many dawns from forest towers.  Then there's his impassioned reading of poetry, his contemplation of great works of art, and his fascination with connectivity.  

Collaborating is the Itasca Brass with some special new arrangements from tuba player Phil Kneeland.  Other members of the quintet are Deena Skaja, French horn; Make Wourms and Sander Grotjohn, trumpet; and Tom Patnaude, trombone.

 $8.00 adult tickets are available from chorus members or at the door.  Veterans are free as are student tickets, courtesy of an Operation Round-Up grant from Lake Country Power.

Sunday, Nov. 30 4 pm Reif Center Grand Rapids.  May the light come out of the darkness for all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sing Your Way Home

Itasca Community Chorus invites all serious singers to join the choir Tuesday, Sept. 2 6:15 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, MN.

Artistic Director Sam Evans reminds, "Never louder than beautiful!"

Step out of your comfort zone (or maybe into it)!  Join a great group of singers for a lot of fun and concentrated singing as Itasca Community Chorus strives to produce the best choral music available. If you’re serious about making beautiful sound, camaraderie and have time, Itasca Community Chorus resumes rehearsals Tuesday evening, September 2 at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. 

Committed to making quality choral music accessible to all, Itasca Community Choir is open to all serious singers, teenage through adult.  Artistic Director Sam Evans, Concordia Moorhead music graduate, and accompanist Stuart Boehr bring their rich imaginations and considerable expert experience to helping each singer do his/her best.  Soloists are generally chosen from within the choir and rank amateurs sing next to seasoned professionals.

The fall semester features a combination of familiar and new Christmas selections.  Google Morten Lauridsen’s  Oh Magnum Mysterium for a taste of how you too could sound in concert with Itasca Community Chorus.  At the other end of the spectrum is Ben Allaway’s  “Freedom Come”  and,  of course,  in between are the familiar Christmas melodies set in new and refreshing choral arrangements. 
Collaborating in concert with Itasca Community Chorus on Nov. 30 at the Reif is the Itasca Brass. 

Spring semester focuses on Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem , the selection Itasca Community Chorus members will sing in collaboration with other choirs from around the nation at Carnegie Hall in New York City, April 2015.  You too could sing on the Carnegies stage next spring. Details and itinerary are available from artistic director Sam Evans at 

Still thinking it through?  If you missed Prayer of the Children or Wanting Memories last year, contact artistic director Sam Evans or call ICTV to determine when the performances will air again.  

Better yet begin singing with Itasca Community Chorus Tuesday evening, Sept. 2 from 6:15-8:30 at Zion Lutheran Church, 2901 Highway 169S, Grand Rapids, MN. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

New York City Here We Come/ or Not!

Distinguished Concerts International New York City (DCINY) announced May 23, 2014 that Director Sam Evans and the Itasca Community Chorus have been invited to participate in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem on the DCINY Concert Series in New York City.  This performance is planned to take place on Sunday, April 12, 2015 at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium.  These outstanding musicians will join with other choristers to form the Distinguished Concert Singers International, a choir of distinction.
So show up at the Zion choir room, Thursday, June 26 at 6:00 pm to make your first payment of $300 and vote on which Broadway show we'll see. 

How exciting is that!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tribute to Veterans Hardly Begun

After after after. . . . Always the feeling of letdown, especially after a superb performance like yesterday's Prayer of the Children. So many worked so hard and so long to bring The Prayer of the Children together. So here are the kudos for all.

But in truth, it's hardly begun.  The historical display has migrated to Central Square Mall where more people can see the work and pay tribute to those veterans who've served the USA from WWII to the present.  At the end of the week, it will move again to Itasca County Courthouse.

The reception remainders moved to Grace House last evening where the homeless can enjoy the treats. 

ICTV has sent a press release alerting area media to Veteran Day activities.  Among the activities is viewing of the concert and the interfaced veteran interviews.Tron was busy editing the coverage this afternoon.

The congratulatory letters are arriving, the professionals are reviewing the performance for the grantees, the grant reports are in the process of being completed, and choir members are wondering what they'll do without the wonderful music and activity of the past 20 weeks.  And the invoices are coming in. . . .

Plans are coming together for fall including a collaboration with the The Great Northern Union, Oct. 3rd at the Reif.  The fall concert will center on a holiday theme so until September, fill your Tuesday nights with good memories and all the other good things in your life, choir members.  If you're missing the music, call ICTV next week and order a DVD of the concert. 

And please do keep The Prayer of the Children in your hearts and minds. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Veteran Tribute Concert--May 18th

The Prayer of the Children concert coming up Sunday, May 18th at the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, MN is one of the best examples of collaboration in the area.  Partially funded by an IRRRB Culture and Tourism grant, this quality choral presentation was inspired by Director Sam Evans’ realization that WWII veterans are leaving us without having told their stories, without having instilled in us the values they fought so valiantly to preserve. 

Included in the presentation are clips from interviews Sam did with local veterans—WWII to the present.  Taped and edited by ICTV, these will be beamed on the wings of the Reif. Eighty square feet of Itasca Historical Society display board, including the Naval plank and full dress uniforms greet you as you enter the Reif. The concert itself is10 quality choral numbers, two of which include the Deer River Middle School Honors choir. Following the concert, enjoy a light snack and visit with the interviewees and singers.
This is not a na├»ve performance.  It acknowledges the hardship of war from the start. “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye,” based on an Irish folk tune sets the heart thrumming with the sound of guns and drums while the female narrator works through the process of how she can accept and love Johnny, who abandoned her and the unborn child and now returns with no gentle look in his eye nor dance in his heart.  In fact, he has no  legs with which to run.

The title piece “Prayer of the Children” is best explained by its composer Kurt Bestor:

Every number is equally powerful in its own way.  Capitalizing on his superb training by Concordia’s reknown director Rene Clausen, Sam has tuned this chorus of high school vocalists to octogenerians to a fine resonance that works the heart and soul through all the nuances of hope and grief over what war does to us all.  The accompanists Stuart Boehr, Maria Annoni, Deena Skaja, and Loren Squires are equally well-trained and sensitive musicians who almost instinctively respond to the shaping of sound to support the choral lyrics and musical score. 

And best of all—this concert is a gratitude concert to and for community.  Adult tickets are only $8 at the door; student tickets are free (courtesy of a Lake Country RoundUp grant) and veterans tickets are free (courtesy of the the Itasca Community Choir’s fundraising).  

The excitement is building and nearly everyone I talk with about this concert has a story to share.  Please come and join this community event.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Prayer of the Children

Itasca Community Chorus presents Prayer of the Children in collaboration with the Deer River Middle School Honor Choir, Sunday, May 18th at 4:00 p.m. at the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids.

Sam Evans, artistic director, says simply, "This is a tribute to all our veterans and their families.  We are so thankful for what you've done and so sorry you had to do it."

Sam has been interviewing local veterans who have served from WWII to the present.  Taped by ICTV, cuts from these interviews will be interspersed between choral numbers.  Modeled after The Band of Brothers, this tribute came to be when Sam realized, upon the death of his wife's grandfather, a WWII vet, how much of the real story we are losing and how fast it disappears.  Questions for the veterans were prompted by the National Veterans' Project.

In December Sam presented the concert plan to the Itasca Choral Society Board and the Grand Rapids' City Council, before submitting a grant proposal for an IRRRB Arts and Culture Grant.  In collaboration with the Itasca Historical Society and ICTV, Itasca Choral Society Board members have worked toward a concert of unsurpassed artistic excellence.

A fine tension between the yearning for peace and the horror of war is maintained throughout the concert.  Most graphic is the Irish folk piece "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" where Johnny's illusions of glory are contrasted with the his wife's acceptance of the legless husband who returns.  An unpublished arrangement of Walter Kittredge's "Tenting on the Old Campground" concludes "Many are the hearts looking for the right to see the dawn of peace [lie] dying on the old campground."

But there's hope too as choir sings of lux aeterna (L. eternal light) "In Remembrance," pleads for mercy on my soul in "Kyrie," and attests " and singing have been my refuge [as I] sing, be, live see, PEACE"  in "Earth Song."  "Homeland," "Inscription of Hope,"  and "Give Us Hope" commit to working for a world where the "Prayer of the Children,  "help me to feel the sun again upon my face for when darkness clears, I know you're near bringing peace again" is realized. 

The Itasca Community Chorus has doubled its rehearsal schedule and the Men's Chorus has been meeting overtime to polish "The Soldiers' Chorus" from Faust.  Accompanying various numbers and intensifying the rich sound of the chorus are expert musicians Stuart Boehr, accompanist; Deena Skaja, horn; Loren Squires, soprano sax; and Maria Annoni, guitar.

Thanks to grant monies from Lake Country Power's Operation RoundUp and IRRRB, student and veteran tickets are free with ID and adult tickets are only $8.  Tickets are available from choir members or at the door. This a community event and one of those very rare opportunities to really thank those who have given us so much to secure the freedoms we all enjoy.  

Come early to browse the 80 sq. ft. of historical display by the Itasca Historical Society, stay late to enjoy the reception and visit with veterans and musicians, but most of all just come and enjoy this amazingly rich tribute to all our veterans and their families--Prayer of the Children, Sunday, May 18th at 4:00 p.m. at the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids.