Failed Saints: A Message from the President

Dear friends,

On behalf of Ensemble Companio, I hope you are having a wonderful Fall! While you were enjoying the crisp autumn air – and pumpkin spice everything – we began our eighth season with rehearsal retreats in New York and Pennsylvania. We welcomed five new Companios into the fold, and set about the process of delving into the musical world curated for us by our artistic director, Erik Peregrine. We’ll be presenting the works of ten living composers this season, finding inspiration in the fact that our art is still keenly alive, and the finest choral music is still being written.

 

New members Adam, Chris, Rachel, and Erin

In this year’s program, entitled Failed Saints, we will explore the darkness and the light that exists within each of us.  Anger & fear fill the daily headlines in this increasingly divided world we live in.  Our season grapples with the idea that each day we have a choice: to feed the rage within us, or to choose to counteract it with compassion and love.  Failed Saints explores our shared imperfections, our shared humanity and divinity, and our collective power to create the world we wish to live in.

It is probably too early in the season to have a favorite piece, but Saunder Choi’s stunning new setting of The New Colossus speaks this message most clearly to me.  We all know by heart the famous excerpt from the sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, and set in bronze on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

To be honest, at first, I embraced the darkness with this one. A patriotic song feels like an odd choice at this moment in history, when we’re at each other’s throats on a daily basis.

The piece contains a rhythmic pulse throughout that is constantly moving and changing – devilishly tricky to master, but so satisfying when it all comes together. We spent a good amount of time working on it as a choir and in sectionals last rehearsal weekend, which gave me a lot of time to reflect on the text. I found myself getting a little choked up at the words, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door,” a beautiful message of welcome to all, set to a soaring melodic line introduced by the tenors and basses, echoed by the sopranos and altos, and building to a crescendo by the chorus as one. In that moment, I recognize anew the land that I love – an America that works together toward a common goal, each voice clearly defined on its own, but each contributing to a beautiful, greater whole. It is an America we can find again, if only we are willing to do the work, on our own and together, to get there.

I continue to find inspiration, season after season, with this wonderful group of musicians. We will be announcing our concert season soon, and I hope you will get the chance to hear and be inspired with us!

With love,

 

Mikey Steiger

President, Ensemble Companio

From Winter to The Greening: A Message from the President

Dear friends,

A belated Happy New Year to you all! I hope your 2018 is off to a great start. I have so much excitement and wonder as I pause to reflect upon the year to come with Ensemble Companio!

We recently kicked off our first rehearsal of 2018 in the Boston metro area – one that we weren’t entirely sure was going to happen as weather reports of winter storm Grayson began predicting the first “snowpocalypse” of the year. Our members braved bitter cold, delays and cancellations of plane, train, and automobile, and still made it to rehearsal on time and excited to sing. It was perhaps fitting that Mother Nature should make her presence known at her fiercest and most beautiful, in a musical season exploring themes of the natural world.

We are now midway through the season. This is my favorite point in the rehearsal process. By now, the notes and rhythms are beginning to feel like second nature, and we can begin the real work of bringing the stories the music holds on the page to life. To that end, our Artistic Director Erik Peregrine set aside time for us to discuss as a group what some of the pieces mean to us, and how they fit into the overarching theme of the concert, The Greening. It is incredible to me how words written by Hildegard of Bingen in the twelfth century, or by Don MacDonald in 2016, can equally inspire us today – how the themes of the human condition are timeless, and cyclical. By the end of rehearsal, Erik needed only remind us to think about the emotional intent behind a piece, and you could instantly hear how the music was elevated by refocusing our intentions. Getting that time to explore deeper meanings in the music is a luxury that is not always afforded to community choirs, but one that I think makes all the difference in musicality.

(Photo: Ashley Prickel-Kane)

New member Ashley Prickel-Kane was our host for the weekend, welcoming us into her choir room at Walpole High School. Several of her students joined us in the afternoon to listen in on our rehearsal, followed by a Q&A session where the students were invited to discuss what they heard, and why they are drawn to choral singing. I smiled at how many of the reasons they gave – stress relief, making new friendships, exploring a love of music – could easily have been the answers a member of EC would give for why they sing. One student mentioned how she enjoying the unified sound of the choir, particularly how great it was to hear a full complement of tenor and basses (I don’t want to brag, but we have Walpole choir beat 10 to 5 in the tenor and bass sections). We finished out the day by sight reading selections from the Walpole choir’s repertoire together, which gave us a chance to fearlessly showcase our mastery of Russian with Pärt’s setting of Bogoroditse Devo (it helped that we had just sung the famous Rachmaninoff setting of the same text last season). It’s hard to tell who enjoyed the afternoon more: the young women of Walpole choir, or Ensemble Companio. Smiles, laughter, and joy was shared by all.  It was exactly the kind of heart-warming needed on a blustery January Saturday.

(Photo: Ashley Prickel-Kane)

Some Boston-area EC alumni also stopped in to say hello and catch up with members old and new. We always love seeing former and prospective members, and I would encourage you to reach out when we’ll be in your area! You have two more chances to catch us in rehearsal: February 3-4 in Brooklyn, NY, and March 3-4 in the Philadelphia metro. Drop us a line for more details, we’d love to see you!

To top off an incredible weekend, Erik stayed behind to work in some studio time, editing our album that was recorded at the end of season 5. We are so grateful to him for giving more of his time to help us finish and release our first studio album! Watch this space for updates about the release in the future.

Concert tickets will be going on sale soon! We hope you will join us on this musical journey of The Greening. Stay tuned for further concert announcements.

The Greening

March 24, 7:30pm
Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, 152 W 66th St, New York, NY

April 28/29
Washington, DC – more info to come!

May 12, 7:00pm
St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 82 Shore Rd, Old Lyme, CT

With love,

From the Director: An invitation to The Greening

Dear friends,

On this shortest day of the year, it is with great joy that I write to you for the first time – and about the season’s music, no less!

Reflecting on repertoire over this past summer, themes of reincarnation kept insistently rising to the surface. This year clearly marks a new beginning for both Ensemble Companio and myself, but the excitement of fresh opportunities comes too with the acknowledgment that we are creating music together in volatile times. We may not know what the future holds, but we will (in all likelihood) still share the same earth.

Minneapolis, MN, just before a summer thunderstorm. (Photo: Erik Peregrine)

As a Pacific Northwesterner, the natural world has always been a source of awe and inspiration to me. Wandering in the old growth rain forests I used to call home, one cannot help but be amazed at the beautiful intricacy of Life, each being governed by their own individual cycles but somehow also co-creating the great, green harmony of the woods. The ancient and the new feed each other. There is both overwhelming energy and profound stillness. St. Hildegard of Bingen, the medieval mystic whose antiphon O Frondens Virga opens the second half of the program, describes this permeating life-essence as “viriditas”, or living greenness. Sitting near one of the many lakes close to my current home in Minneapolis, I was struck by the sameness of water, light, soil, and grasses – “viriditas” itself – across the thousands of miles now separating me from those dense forests; an apt metaphor for Ensemble Companio’s unusual rehearsal structure perhaps, but also the thread on which to pull for our first season together.

The Greening explores the parallels between human experience and the cycles of the natural world – through darkness into light, through winter into spring, through loss into renewal.

A blurring of opposites – old and new, sacred and secular, universal and highly personal – runs throughout the program; listeners will hear Josquin des Prez’s seamlessly cyclical Salve Regina alongside Edie Hill’s translucent We Bloomed in Spring, Tomás Luis de Victoria’s beloved O Vos Omnes alongside recent works by Jussi Chydenius and Don Macdonald, and Dale Trumbore’s Spiritus Mundi, a luminous setting of a text by contemporary poet Amy Fleury inspired by Renaissance composer Orlando de Lassus, among other gems. One particular under-performed jewel in this year’s repertoire is Abbie Betinis’ God of Owls, which sets an anonymous poet’s prayer that we may be prevented “from being blind to what we’re afraid to see” atop a thorny bramble of low voices and haunting bird calls. The course of the program meanders through awe, sadness, and mystery to hope and healing, meditating on the myriad ways we ourselves are reflected in nature throughout the journey.

Mark your calendars for The Greening:
March 24-25 – New York
April 28-29 – DC
May 12-13 – Connecticut shore

More specific information about locations, venues, etc. will be available in the new year, so be sure to keep an eye out for another note from us! As always, you are more than welcome to join us for one of our rehearsal weekends; email us at info@ensemblecompanio.org and we’ll provide you with more details about when we’ll be in your area.

Though today’s solstice marks the first official day of winter (which is certainly evident here in Minnesota!), it also marks the beginning of the sun’s gradual return. May you find peace and joy in each day’s growing light, and I hope to see you in a few short months for The Greening!

All my best,

New Beginnings: A message from Ensemble Companio

 

 

 

 

 

Dear friends,

A new season is upon us, and with that, some new faces and new beginnings! My name is Mikey Steiger, and after four seasons of singing in the tenor section, I am joining the Board as the third President of Ensemble Companio (I’ll still moonlight as a tenor – never fear!).

Last weekend, we began our seventh season by welcoming our new Artistic Director, Erik Peregrine, into the Ensemble Companio family. After a long and productive day of charging fearlessly through the repertoire for this year, we gathered for the traditional dinner and fellowship at a nearby member’s house. Our Founding Director, Joe Gregorio, stopped by with his family, and there in the kitchen (where everything important seems to happen), Joe and Erik met for the first time and greeted each other with open arms. It was a moment of pure happiness and deep gratitude from both. A passing of the batons, from the founder of the group who brought us together and set us on our path, to the new director, whose artistic vision will carry us into the future.

I was immediately transported back to my first rehearsal with Ensemble Companio, in our third season. What I remember most about that first day was the welcome I received, which from the moment I walked in the door was warm, joyful, and all-encompassing. It was like discovering “old friends who’ve just met,” if I may borrow a line from The Muppet Movie. I’ve sung in many different choirs for nearly 20 years now, but never before have I felt so instantly, completely at home as I did and continue to feel from my very first moments with this group. In that moment 4 years ago, and again last weekend, I felt a joy and excitement that I hadn’t expected.

The truth is, I practically had to drag myself to rehearsal last weekend. Stories of anger, of division, of terrible natural disasters and destruction left in their path have been the top headlines this summer. At times, a feeling of hopelessness and despair has drained me to the very core these past few weeks. As Saturday approached, the idea of traveling hours from home and giving up my free time to spend poring over new scores seemed overwhelming, the complete opposite of self-preservation.

It turns out that it was. By which I mean that turning inward was not what I needed at all. I needed to sing, to discover beautiful music that I never knew existed. I needed to forge connections with our new director and new members, and renew those with returning members. By the end of a weekend spent with my amazing fellow singers and our inspiring new Artistic Director, my heart was full to bursting with joy, laughter, and song.

Every year, we form and reform this community of singers – each time new, and yet always somehow the same. As I returned home, I felt open to the world again, ready to face the challenges the next week would present, with a future that has never looked brighter. That is the power of music. That is the power of love, shared with friends old and new. That is the power of community. That is Ensemble Companio.

I am so excited about this season that we are making, friends! I can’t wait to share it with you.

With love,

Introducing Our New Artistic Director: A Special Message from the President

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all doing well, and enjoying time outside in the gorgeous warm weather we’re having!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Ensemble Companio has chosen Erik Peregrine as our new Artistic Director.

Erik Peregrine

In his own words:

I am overjoyed to be joining the Ensemble Companio family and to carry on this vibrant tradition of heart-filled choral music in the coming season. Ensemble Companio’s mission of building bridges and human connections through music resonates deeply with my own artistic values, and I am so inspired by the musicians’ dedication to live out this mission in all they do together. I am both thrilled and humbled to be entrusted with artistic stewardship of this unique choral community going forward.

We, too, are overjoyed to welcome Erik into the Ensemble Companio family, and are eager for him to both push our musical boundaries and help us build exciting new bridges. He will begin his tenure as Artistic Director this summer.

For all the hard work, diligent follow-up, respectful debate, and thorough discussions that led us to this point, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the members of the Artistic Director Search Committee, especially my co-chair Mikey Steiger, The Board, and the wonderful singers in Ensemble Companio. I would also like to thank Michael Weinberg for kindly and steadily shepherding the Ensemble through this most recent season. Throughout the entirety of the search, all were patient, thoughtful, and expressed great care for the Ensemble. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to serve as President for the past three years; indeed, it has been an honor.

A backstage moment with Megan Lemley (alto, Development Chair) and Mikey Steiger (tenor) during intermission in Washington, DC. (Photo: Sarah Glaser)

Since this will be my last message as President of Ensemble Companio, I wanted to share something with you that happened several years ago. In the spring of 2013, when I had just completed my first season with the Ensemble and was serving as Ensemble Advocate, I had the opportunity to attend the annual Chorus America conference in Washington, D.C. The conference was packed with inspiring lectures, round-table discussions, and opportunities to learn from more established groups. There were also “buttonhole interactions”–chances to speak with someone experienced in fundraising/musical direction/board leadership/etc one-on-one, for 15 minutes. I sat down with the then General Manager of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and explained Ensemble Companio’s founding and structure, and our mission. He listened intently, offering sage advice and encouragement. He then asked about our long-term plans. Surrounded by representatives from other choirs that had been operating for 20 or 30 years–some even more–and with budgets much larger than ours, I wasn’t sure what to say. How could a choir like Ensemble Companio–barely 2 years old and with an improbable traveling rehearsal structure–hope to plan 10 or even 5 years out? I started, “Well, I really hope that we’ll be around 5 years from now…” And he answered simply, “You will. Of that I have no doubt.” I was surprised and heartened by his conviction. And he was right.

Having a laugh during our end-of-season brunch in Newport, RI. (Photo: Elise Croteau-Chonka)

Here we are, about to begin our seventh season. We have evolved with our membership, we have expanded our Board and our fundraising capacity, we have sung in seven states and Washington, D.C., won awards, completed our first-ever Artistic Director search, and continue to build bridges between people through authentic, inspiring performances of the finest choral music. It’s been an amazing journey–one I now look forward to participating in simply as a singer–and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

In the next few months, a new President will take the reins. We’ll have some new Board members, too, and I can’t wait for you to meet them. As always, we welcome you to contact us with any thoughts or suggestions you have along the way. Clearly, we couldn’t have done all this without your wonderful support: the Ensemble Companio family is incredibly special, and I know I speak for all the members when I say we know how lucky we are to be a part of it. Here’s to the next seven years.

With deepest gratitude,

Cailin

From the Director: Thoughts on charting a course — in song, and in life — and an invitation to Warnings, Wisdom, and Wit

Cape Cod Bay, as viewed from the beach in Truro, MA — one of our favorite rehearsal locations

 

Ensemble Companio is sailing into its fifth season with the wind at its back.

There is much that is as true of Ensemble Companio now as it was five years ago.  We remain wholly committed to and guided by our mission of building bridges between people through authentic, inspiring performances of the finest choral music.  We still travel from all over the northeast United States to make music together one weekend per month.  We still fuel all of our hard work with delicious muffins baked by soprano section leader Elena Gregorio.

Yet much has changed since we embarked on our first season five years ago.  We’ve grown from comprising twenty-one singers in our inaugural season to a group of twenty-seven as we start our fifth.  We have hired our first-ever assistant conductor, Michael Weinberg.  Thanks to our first annual — and very successful — Drive To Sing fundraising campaign spearheaded by Development Chair and alto Megan Lemley, we have been able to institute what we’re calling a Member Experience Fund, designed to help defray our musicians’ travel and logistical expenses associated with membership in Ensemble Companio.  And before the present season began, our officers plotted all sorts of exciting opportunities and goals for the group that would have been all but unthinkable five years ago.

When I meditate on how far we have come in five years, and then think about where the group is bound, I’m overcome with a sense of almost limitless possibility.  I also feel deep gratitude toward all the supporters, venues, volunteers, and singers and officers past and present who helped us not merely to stay afloat but to make waves while connecting with hundreds of listeners over the last half decade.  We have taught ourselves a great deal while navigating uncharted waters, but we have also benefited greatly from the advice of artistic directors, officers, board members, and singers from more established ensembles — for all of which I am likewise thankful.

Our listeners this season will soon be getting some counsel of their own — in musical form.  Warnings, Wisdom, and Wit grew from an idea I had a few years ago to put together a program of works through which composers and/or writers of text give caution, dispense moral advice, or make pithy observations about society and life.  Listeners will hear an ancient monodic French song called “L’homme armé” (“The armed man”) warning the listener about one bearing arms, and a movement from a Mass by French Renaissance composer Guillaume Dufay that weaves this monophonic song into the fabric of his polyphonic composition.  There will be other sacred works by nineteenth-century German composer Anton Bruckner and late-nineteenth-/early-twentieth-century English composer Charles Villiers Stanford as well.  We’ll also perform a piece by contemporary Pennsylvania-based composer Kala Pierson on a Shakespeare text about love; arrangements of folk music from Colombia, England, Ireland, and Mexico; shape-note music from The Sacred Harp; an arrangement of a poignant warning from French singer-songwriter Francis Cabrel about the effect technology can have on communication and memory; and more.  Each work on the program is in part or in whole an exhortation or a lesson, be it serious or silly, about how we might best chart a course through life.

I hope that your course will include a stop at one of our concerts this spring.  If you can’t make it to a concert, e-mail us about dropping by one of our rehearsals, which are held throughout the northeast United States and which are always open.  We look forward to sharing Warnings, Wisdom, and Wit with you!

(And if you’re wondering whence comes all the nautical talk: Though I’ve always thought that a ship is an excellent metaphor for a musical ensemble, I think it owes more at the moment to the fact that this season our tenors and basses will be singing Alice Parker and Robert Shaw’s arrangement of sea chanty What shall we do with the drunken sailor — and that I simply cannot get the tune out of my head!)

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Throwback Thursday with our President

Dear Friends and Family,

Ensemble Companio is now excitedly looking forward to our fifth season. In the spirit of a “Throwback Thursday,” we wanted to thank you for all you did to make our fourth season so wonderful.

Thank you for supporting Ensemble Companio through a very successful 2015 concert season!

The text from Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, one of the works we sang last season, is “Ubi caritas at amor, Deus ibi est,” which translates to “Where there is charity and love, God is there.”  This captures what I’ve felt about Ensemble Companio from the very beginning: when people who care for one another travel a long way to make something beautiful, it’s an incredibly uplifting—and yes, even spiritual—experience. Regardless of why and how each of us comes to sing with Ensemble Companio, we all have people in the wings: parents who cheer us on, spouses who listen to us practicing and welcome our tired selves back on Sunday nights, neighbors who watch the kids for a weekend, and friends and family who share and spread our enthusiasm. When we gather together for two days every month, it is very much an effort that reaches beyond the singers.

EC Women

 Megan Lemley (alto, Development Chair), Inès Thieme (soprano, past President), Christina Wallace (soprano, Communications Chair), and Julia Hillabrant (alto) share a moment before the Ridgewood, NJ concert in April.

One amazing example of that last season was your overwhelming response to our Annual Campaign, which raised more than $12,000 (and blew away our $10,000 goal)! You helped us build a stronger foundation and presented us with new opportunities, including the initiation of a fund to support singers’ travel, childcare, and other seasonal expenses. On behalf of the officers, I would like to express our joy at being able to offer such support to our singers and our optimism in increasing this support yearly. I hope that, in return, you joined us for a concert and allowed us to share our gratitude through song.

 

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Mikey Steiger (tenor), Evan Crawford (bass, General Manager), Michael Raffaele (bass, Ensemble Advocate), and Greg Pratt (tenor, Secretary) provide a backstage “interlude” between sets.

I’d also like to announce the appointment of Evan Crawford and Christina Wallace to the positions of General Manager and Communications Chair, respectively. Both just completed their first year of singing with Ensemble Companio and jumped right into leadership positions! We are grateful for the dedication and enthusiasm of these two and are excited to work with them to steer Ensemble Companio into this season and beyond.

Finally, for those of you who attended our Brooklyn or Ridgewood concerts, you’ll remember our encore performance of Il bianco e dolce cigno. At the request of an audience member, at our last concert of the season in Philadelphia, we instead closed with “In My Life” and invited the audience to join us. It was such a special encore that we wanted to share it with all of you.

Please join us again in song this season, which includes concerts planned in April and May 2016.  The theme will be “Warnings, Widsom, and Wit”, and we can’t wait to see you in the audience!  In the meantime (and as always), I look forward to hearing from you at president@ensemblecompanio.org.

All my best,

Cailin

CMW

Announcing our new Assistant Conductor: Michael Weinberg!

Michael Weinberg

Michael WeinbergMichael WeinbergWe are very excited to welcome Michael Weinberg to Ensemble Companio as our first Assistant Conductor. As we begin our fifth season and we continue to grow in many ways, we are elated to be able to add this role to our musical staff, alongside Artistic Director Joseph Gregorio and Vocal Coach Julie Gregorio.

Originally from the Washington, DC area, Michael Weinberg is a versatile conductor, singer, and teacher based in Boston, MA. He has appeared with numerous professional organizations, including the Oregon Bach Festival, The Philadelphia Singers, and Washington National Opera, and has performed in many prestigious venues across the United States and Europe. He recently made his solo debut in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center with the Yale Schola Cantorum under the direction of Masaaki Suzuki. Equally passionate about teaching as well as performing, Weinberg is currently Visiting Director of Music of the Commonwealth School (Boston), and has previously served as a teaching assistant and conductor of various collegiate and high school ensembles. His conducting teachers include Marguerite Brooks, Jeffrey Douma, David Hill, Paul Rardin, and Thea Kano. He holds an M.M. in choral conducting from Temple University, a B.M. summa cum laude in vocal performance from The Catholic University of America, and has completed the course requirements for the D.M.A. in choral conducting from Yale University.

But enough from us – let’s let Michael introduce himself!

Dear Friends,

It is my pleasure to introduce myself to you and say how excited I am to join the Ensemble Companio family as their first Assistant Conductor! Having already experienced one rehearsal weekend, family is the best word I can use to describe Ensemble Companio. Throughout the weekend I heard heartwarming stories of singers gathering in between rehearsal weekends, attending one another’s weddings, or supporting those experiencing difficult times. Though many members knew each other before joining EC, they make everyone feel welcome and a part of the family from the very beginning.

During my interview and audition for the position, I asked the members who were present why they choose to sing in a group such as this, one where you give up an entire weekend per month and travel a couple, or sometimes several hours away for rehearsal. For most, it is the special bond of music that drives their dedication to the ensemble. Being in EC provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in music making for a whole weekend, kind of like going to District or All-State chorus in high school once a month, only on a smaller scale and with people who become your close friends. Many community choruses focus on large choral/orchestral works and may contain upwards of 100-200 singers, compared to singing with a chamber ensemble like EC, which focuses on a cappella singing and allows for a more intimate music-making experience.

I’m very grateful to Joe Gregorio for this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to a fantastic year of working with and learning from him and the rest of Ensemble Companio. I also hope to meet many of you at our concerts in April and May!

Best wishes,
Michael

A Holiday Message from the President

Dear Friends and Family,

The end of the year is upon us, whether we’re ready or not.

I’ve finally come to believe what my parents have been telling me for years: the more living you do, the more quickly time passes.  It’s for this reason that, regardless of whether or not I’m in the right “mood” for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve made an effort in recent years to immerse myself in the season.  Even when I feel that December has arrived too early—when I haven’t finished all my tasks at work or accomplished my goals for the year—it’s being surrounded by family and friends, enjoying good food and wine, sitting near a fire in the fireplace, and hearing joyful music that make the season real.  Once I’m truly “tuned in,” gratitude comes easily for the year’s opportunities and friends, for my successes, failures, and lessons learned.

Ensemble Companio has much to be thankful for in 2014: several fabulous new singers; a fantastic master class with world-renowned American composer, arranger and conductor Alice Parker; the chance to perform in new cities and venues; and an ever-growing circle of support from our audiences and fans.  We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had the privilege of sharing with one another and look forward to what the future will bring.

Alice Parker Workshop

Alice Parker and Director Joseph Gregorio celebrate a wonderful master class at Swarthmore College. (Photo: Ben Lowe)

In my experience, new possibilities for Ensemble Companio have occasionally arisen from unlikely places.  This autumn, I had the great fortune to travel to Portugal and Switzerland for work.  While in Carouge, a town just south of Geneva, I found myself in an illustrator’s studio looking for a thank-you card.  When I explained that I was in a choir and wanted to thank someone who had given us advice, the artist’s face lit up and she began to ask me all sorts of questions about Ensemble Companio: How large was the choir?  How long had we been in existence?  What sort of music did we sing?  And would we be performing in Switzerland?  I was delighted at her warm, immediate interest!  As I answered her queries as best I could in my rusty French, I explained that we were a regional American choir, but that one day we did indeed hope to perform outside the Northeastern US.

One day.

We’d love to present concerts in such places as Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco, and yes, perhaps even Europe and Asia.  In fact, we’ve received invitations to perform in many of these places already.  We don’t currently have the financial means to tour, but it’s definitely on our wish list (along with many more immediate things, like paying for music licensing fees, venue rental, and singers’ childcare during rehearsals).  As you’ve undoubtedly seen, last month we kicked off our first annual Drive to Sing to raise $10,000.  Thanks to your generosity, we’re well on our way to meeting that goal by the end of our 2014-2015 season.  The Matching Gift Challenge has provided an additional incentive to give before the end of the year, and I do hope you’ll consider it.

Percho Choir Edit 2

A gorgeous choral thank-you card from Switzerland!           (Card: Percho)

In the near future, however, we will do our utmost to bring you authentic, inspiring performances of the finest choral music in locations throughout the Northeast.  Our rehearsals through the 2015 concert season will include:

January 10-11, 2015 at Union Memorial Chapel at Union College in Schenectady, NY
(we’ll present a free mini concert Sunday at 12:30pm)

February 7, 2015 at West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, NJ
February 8, 2015 at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, NJ

March 7, 2015 at Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, CT
March 8, 2015 at Atria Stamford in Stamford, CT (we’ll present a free mini concert at 11:30am)

We always welcome your listening in on our rehearsals.  As a reminder, our Saturday, March 21, 2015 concert will be in Brooklyn, NY, and our Sunday, April 19, 2015 concert will be in Ridgewood, NJ. As soon as we finalize our May 2015 concert, I will let you know!

Happy Holidays from Ensemble Companio! (Video: Ben Lowe)

Thank you once again for your enthusiasm and support for Ensemble Companio—we are ever so grateful for you.  As always, I look forward to reading your thoughts and suggestions at president@ensemblecompanio.org.  May you find yourself surrounded by family, friends, and beautiful music this holiday season.

Warmest wishes,

Cailin

CMW

A New Bridge

We built a wonderful new bridge last weekend.

Thanks to a grant from ACDA-PA, Ensemble Companio was fortunate enough to welcome the legendary composer, arranger, conductor, and song-leader Alice Parker for a three-hour workshop with us at Swarthmore College.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our singers to receive guidance from a master teacher and luminary in the fields of choral music and folk singing.  Alice opened her heart and mind to us, and led the singers with supreme generosity and authority in impromptu singing of folk music and in her own arrangements of American hymn tune Wondrous Love and French folksong Auprès de ma blonde.

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