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

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

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