Choirtap [k-wire-tap] – noun, verb, -tapped, -tapping, adjective.
1. a blog on, about, for and/or by the Phoenix Chorale. the act or instance of writing a blog about or pertaining to the Phoenix Chorale
Choirtap [k-wire-tap] – noun, verb, -tapped, -tapping, adjective.
This week’s composer spotlight features Brent Michael Davids! His “Native American Suite” will be featured in our upcoming “Desert Song” concerts on March 7-8. In this edition of ChoirTap, we will be doing a quick list of fun facts about this renowned Native American composer.
Come out March 7-8 and hear the Phoenix Chorale singers perform works of not only Brent Michael Davids, but many other talented composers as well, and a solo performance by R. Carlos Nakai from his Platinum album Canyon Trilogy.
Samantha Allen, Marketing and Communications Intern
Platinum-selling artist and Grammy nominee, Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai joins us for “Desert Song!”
The Southwest is an expansive desert paradise, rich in hues, history, and heritage. Join us as we channel southwestern culture in concerts featuring music by composers Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla and Anne Kilstofte. We’ll also perform “Mesa Songs” by Judith Cloud, and Brent Michael Davids’ “Native American Suite,” which feature R. Carlos Nakai on flute. You’ll also hear a special solo performance by R. Carlos Nakai featuring selections from his Platinum album, Canyon Trilogy. Don’t miss this historic event!
Meet R. Carlos Nakai:
Our “Desert Song” concerts are coming up on March 7-8! We are excited to feature compositions from many talented composers in these concerts, one of which is NAU’s Coordinator of Voice, Judith Cloud. To learn a bit more about her and her music, we are featuring her on ChoirTap this week.
How did you get started with music? Do you come from a musical family? Everyone in my family sang. My father and my mother were church soloists. In fact, the organist at our church imported my whole family to her new town because she wanted us to sing in her choir. She was my first mentor and taught me so many valuable things from a very early age. I started out singing Bach! I played the flute and the guitar and I taught myself a little oboe and trumpet! I just loved exploring new instruments and I wanted to play everything!
What impact does living in the Southwest have on your life and your music? I grew up in North Carolina. I spent a short time teaching in Terre Haute, Indiana and moved to Flagstaff to teach music at Northern Arizona University in 1989. Discovering Arizona and the Southwest, with its brilliantly diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes, had a profound influence on my composition.
What is your favorite thing about teaching music? I’m so glad you asked this question because I do feel that I teach music. I also teach people how to sing but I hope I do that with an eye out for retaining the essence of what it is to be a musician. Often voice teachers get lost in the production of sound to the exclusion of the more important business of being the conduit for the composer and the poet.
How has your role as an educator allowed you to strengthen your own musical talents? Because I have been a singer and a conductor, I have learned about composing from being in the daily laboratory of all the composers whose works I teach and perform. When you are an educator, you are in the daily business of leading students to places of discovery. During this process, you benefit from the slowing down of music and words and seeing structure in a methodical, meticulous, yet inspired way.
How is poetry important in your life and your music? I spoke about the slowing down of music and words. When I search a poem, I often discover it more deeply through the process of composing. Something about a poem may inspire me to try to set it to music. But often times a poem seems complete without any attempt on my part to make something else out of it. When a song setting does not seem to capture the essence of a poem, I will make an instrumental piece with the poem in mind. My most recent attempt at this was a piece for brass quintet called “Three Dogs from Greek Mythology.” The poem is to be read projected on the screen while the brass quintet plays each music movement. This concept is fairly unusual for Brass quintet but my experience was that its performance was quite moving and successful. The brilliant poems of Michael Collier were my inspiration. I am working on an orchestral piece to one of his poems that will be much like a tone poem.
What is the process of how you select which texts to set with your music? Sometimes it’s just serendipitous. I work with poems and texts daily in my teaching and each spring sit and listen to dozens of music major voice recitals where I hear even more texts and poems that allow me to consider setting them. But we live in a time where contemporary voices are interesting and relevant. So I do look for poetry that reflects what is going on with us spiritually and in our evolution as a culture. Sometimes I will contact a poet and ask if he or she would be interested in having me set their work to music. The response has always been favorable. Betty Andrews was a wonderful collaborative poet. She sent me the most gorgeous hand created books. Unfortunately, she died before she could hear any of the music I created from her unique voice.
Where do you find inspiration to compose? I love finding special places. The majority of my work is done in my music room at home. But there have been many times when I have been visiting friends or colleagues and used their pianos in the quietude of their homes. Mesa Songs was actually composed in Berkeley, California in such a place. One of the last special places I visited was in Lake City, Colorado and a teeny tiny church. I used the out of tune piano and composed several art songs. I was blissed out!
How does your experience as a singer help you when writing vocal compositions? I know what works technically. I know what vowel feels good on a high note or in the middle register or chest voice. I know how long a phrase can occupy the breath. I know what vowel and consonant combinations are really pleasurable and visceral to sing. And I know what singers really like. That may sound overly simple but it is important!
What is it like teaching at NAU? I have had a very good career here. Students have been very talented. My colleagues in the music faculty have been excellent and awe-inspiring musicians to work with. If that were not the case, I would have left long ago. In particular, Rita Borden, the collaborative pianist I have given multiple recitals with has been a huge inspiration for me as a composer as she has interpreted almost all of my songs.
Now that we know a bit more about Judith Cloud and her music, we are even more excited to hear her work, “Mesa Songs,” which will feature Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai. Watch the concert trailer here >>
-Samantha Allen, Marketing and Communications Intern
Pre-order available now!
PHOENIX CHORALE & KANSAS CITY CHORALE
Charles Bruffy, Artistic Director
Release date: March 10, 2015
Our new album, Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, with the Kansas City Chorale, will be released March 10, 2015, the 100-year anniversary of this prestigious work’s premiere. Order your copy today and these high-quality Super Audio CDs will be available to ship and arrive on March 10, 2015 — a must-have addition to any choral aficionado’s music library!
at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
No tickets required! We’ll be rehearsing for our “Desert Song” concerts (held Mar. 7-8) featuring music by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, Judith Cloud, and Brent Michael Davids. Everyone gets a free raffle ticket to try to win CDs and more!
We’re also presenting a special performance by students from Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children at 8:00 pm. They will perform art songs in Italian, German, and Spanish. Learn about Rosie’s House >>
And be sure to stop by the Olney Art Gallery for the opening night of their new exhibit featuring student artwork from Cesar Chavez Learning Academy. Over the fall, four Arizona artists (Carlos Rivas, Marissa Vidrio, Edgar Fernandez, and Monica-Gisel Crespo), have been teaching their craft to four Chavez school classes. Come see art by the students, as well as their mentors. The Olney Gallery is located near the courtyard labyrinth on the north side of the Trinity Cathedral campus. Learn more >>
Everyone is welcome at our Free Open Rehearsals! These events are casual so come as you are, whenever you want, and stay as long as you’d like.
Mark your calendar! We’ll host 1 more Free Open Rehearsal this season: April 17, 2015.
This season, we are happy to welcome new singers to the Chorale. To get acquainted with our new friends, we’re going to feature each of them right here on ChoirTap this season.
Carmel Groenwald is the newest addition to our SOPRANO section and happens to be featured with a solo in our upcoming A Chorale Christmas concert series.
When or how did you start singing? I started singing at a very young age listening to my mother and dad sing in church. It was always a joy to stand on the pew next to Dad and try to match the harmonies he was singing.
What excites you most about singing in the Phoenix Chorale? The most exciting part about singing with the Phoenix Chorale is that I am a part of the ensemble that served as a catalyst for my love of and pursuit of choral music. It’s a dream come true. It’s a challenge. Perhaps most importantly, it’s an opportunity for growth and development beyond what I thought I had potential for.
What is your favorite musical memory? Auditioning for a role in our High School Musical, Les Miserables and realizing I could sing soprano.
What was the first concert you attended? The first concert I attended was a Christian festival in California on the fair-grounds called Spirit West Coast. There was many different stages, and tons of artists from the radio. We camped in a horse stall. It was fabulous.
What is your musical guilty pleasure? Dashboard confessional. The band that allows me to sing at the top of my lungs with all sorts of drama and vendetta.
What talent would you most like to have? I would LOVE to be able to pick up any song for piano and be able to sight read it.
Favorite flavor of ice cream: Has to be coffee.
If a movie was made about your life, what actor/actress would play you? Natalie Portman would definitely play my life. Brooding, thoughtful, joyous and loud.
Imagine you are stranded on a deserted island for all of eternity and you can bring 5 movies with you – what 5 movies would you bring? I would bring
If you were an animal, what animal would you be? I would probably be a tropical bird of some sort. Loud. Brightly dressed. Likes to be in groups. Can fly away.
Program notes for A Chorale Christmas are now available! Read Program Notes >>
Carols by Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978)
Sieben Magnificat Antiphonen - Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)
A Spotless Rose – Ola Gjeilo
A Tribute to American Composer Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)
Carols by Ola Gjeilo
See you this weekend!