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:  http://kbestor.blogspot.com/2005/09/prayer-of-children-story-behind-song.html

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 "...music 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.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Soup'r Good Needs YOU!

We've the recipes, the cooks, servers and live entertainment.  But what we really need is YOU!  Gather your friends and schedule an evening out Tuesday, March 18 from 5-7:00 at Zion Lutheran Church. On the menu are delicious soups--chicken noodle, chicken wild rice, and hearty beef vegetable and two vegetarian variations, complemented by a choice of breads and crackers. We're preparing 240 servings of soup so if there are any leftovers, they too will be for sale at the end of the evening.  

Come early for the best selection in delicious homemade breads and goodies. Have fun with the silent auction that's featuring everything from paintings to services. 

Throughout the evening there will be live performance by some of the areas best musicians and certainly a lot of lively camaraderie as you interact with the chorus.  And you can leave the dishes for us, too. What more can you ask? 

For a $10 donation for adults and a $5 donation for children 5 and older, you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat evening of soup, bread and song and help Itasca Community Chorus raise the funds necessary to continue its mission of making quality choral music accessible to all. Tickets are available from choir members or at the door.

That's Tuesday, March 18 from 5-7:00 pm at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. 





 



Monday, January 13, 2014

Prayer of the Children

Itasca Community Chorus reconvened Jan. 7 with 32 hardy singers who braved -35 F temperatures to check out the spring repertoire.  Director Sam Evans shared his vision of a war/peace concert where actual interviews of Itasca County Veterans of Foreign Wars are projected on the wings of the Reif Performing Arts Center. The interviews prefacing the Band of Brothers series and the sparcity of WWII veterans motivated Sam to write an ambitious concert plan with solo cello, soprano clarinet, and trumpet.

Among the selections is unpublished work by Rene' Clausen, "Prayer of the Children," " Inscription of Hope," "Earth Song," and "I Am a Small Part of the World."  All have those wonderful chords and delicate balance that Director Evans emphasizes to help each selection become a part of the soul.

Funding is being sought to contract with ICTV for the interviews and the Itasca County Historical Society for the lobby display.

This is a non-audition chorus for singers who enjoy working hard to create a quality choral concert for the community.  This week we welcome several who could not participate last week and encourage you to come out if you've ever wanted to spend Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 at Zion Lutheran Church in the company of our joyous volunteers.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wanting Memories, Nov. 24th Concert

Itasca Community Chorus is singing with that old-time college choral sound thanks to the hard work of our new director Sam Evans.  Assisted by his lovely "new" wife Lenora, singers are digging in, rehearsing outside the Tuesday evening formal time together, and laughing a lot during our intense rehearsals.

Sunday, Nov. 24th the 45-piece ensemble will perform at the Reif Performing Arts Center at 3:00 pm.  Repertoire includes wonderfully rich text and scores by Eric Whitacre, Matthew Coulton, and Paul Christianson.  Each selection leaves vocalists asking "How Can I Keep from Singing," but my all time favorite is "Wanting Memories." I'm "sitting here wanting memories to teach me to see the beauty of the world through mine own eyes."

Joining the full choir accompanied by Stuart Boehr is the Deer River Senior High Choir.  This will be a great concert to introduce our seasons of thankfulness and holiday joy.

General admission tickets ($8) are available from choir members or at the door.  Student tickets are free courtesy of the Lake Country Power Operation RoundUp grant.