Quarterly Notes, April 2011
A Word from the Director
I have always had a passion for musical theater since an early age. I remember my first experience in junior high school which has stayed with me ever since. I have had the fortune to perform on stage, play in the pit, conduct, give musical direction and produce many different productions and I enjoy the opportunity to share these experiences with the choral groups I work with. While all genres of music are challenging, musical theater can be one of the more complex styles of music to tackle, especially in the choral setting. Musical theater combines vocal music with the plot and drama of the over-arching story along with the individuality of various characters within a particular show. In a single Broadway review, the styles and approach can change multiple times relatively quickly. More so, one of the exciting things is that each time a choral group prepares a particular selection it can have a completely different interpretation each and every time.
This semester the Granite State Choral Society is preparing a number of Broadway selections from across the decades. The program this semester contains some of my favorite shows. Brigadoon, which comes from the golden age of musical theater and is a classic production which also appeals to my own Scottish heritage. Guys and Dolls is another classic show with a New York big band feel. We are also preparing a tribute to Richard Rodgers which contains selections from many of the Rodgers & Hart and Rodgers & Hammerstein collaborations. From the more contemporary era, we are performing Sondheim’s Into the Woods which is our most technically challenging selection of the semester. In true Sondheim fashion the accompaniment stands on it’s own and is independent to the vocal lines which requires the singer(s) to be confident in the choral lines. We are also preparing the always popular medley of Les Miserables selections as well as “Seasons of Love” from Rent. Finally, we will close the program with a truly quintessential musical theater number, “Walk Him Up the Stairs” from the musical Purlie. Although not widely known, Purlie combines the passion of the story of Purlie Victorious with the power of gospel music. I have found myself returning to this selection time and time again because of it’s intensity and strong message.
This concert has been exciting to put together because it is different than the previous more classical concerts. Once our Broadway review is past, we will begin looking towards the Fall 2011 semester when we will be preparing Bach’s Magnificat in D Major. We will be performing this larger work with orchestra and are encouraging as many singers as possible to join in this program. People interested in more information in the Fall semester program or the GSCS in general are encouraged to speak with me or any member of the group.
Seth A. Hurd
Notes from the president…
To all my fellow music lovers:
Here we are again, waiting for all the snow to melt and spring to arrive in full force. It is a good thing that we have something exciting and fun to look forward to as Granite State Choral Society begins its final month of practices before the spring concerts. Our last concerts in December were a huge success. We had the privilege of singing in a new and an old venue, and found the acoustics to be outstanding at both. Our audiences, the music, the wonderful choral members, the beautiful venues, and the great accompanists all added up to a wonderful experience.
Now we are working hard to put the finishing touches on our next concerts…and they are going to be a ton of fun. We have a fantastic selection of music picked out by Seth A. Hurd. Our concert, “Broadway Cabaret”, will include selections from Guys and Dolls, Les Miserables, Brigadoon, Into the Woods, Richard Rogers songs and much more. This is going to be another fantastic opportunity for singers, musicians and audiences alike. The concert dates are scheduled for Sat., April 30 at 7:30 pm and Sun., May 1 at 3 pm at the Spaulding High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
I look forward to seeing you at one of our concerts, where I know there will be a lot of toe tapping, humming along and smiles to take home with you.
Yours in song,
Granite State Choral Society
So you think you know Broadway? Give our Broadway Quiz a try!
Answers follow below. No peeking!
1. What four fairy tales are told in Into The Woods?
2. Name 3 other Sondheim musicals.
3. Did Richard Rogers do music or lyrics? Who were his partners?
4. Name 2 musicals that won Tony Awards for Richard Rogers.
5. Brigadoon was written by Lerner and Lowe. Name 2 other musicals they wrote.
6. Purlie was based on a story by Ossie Davis. It won 2 Tony awards. Name the stars and category.
7. Which star of RENT went on to become WICKED?
8. Rent is based on what opera?
9. Which of the shows included in the GSCS performance won Tony’s for best musical?
10. Frank Loesser wrote the lyrics and music for Guys and Dolls. What other musicals did he write?
11. In the original Broadway production of Guys and Dolls, who played Skye Masterson?
12. In the original Broadway production of Guys and Dolls who went on from the Broadway production to the movie version?
13. Which of the musicals in the GSCS program have been made into movies?
Answers to Broadway Quiz from above:
1. Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel
2. Company, A Little Night Music, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Assassins, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George Lyrics: West Side Story, Gypsy, Candide
3. Music. Lorenzo Hart then Oscar Hammerstein II
4. South Pacific, King & I, No Strings, Sound of Music
5. Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi, Camelot
6. Best actor & actress in musical: Cleavon Little & Melba Moore
7. Idina Menzel
8. La Boheme
9. South Pacific 1950, Guys and Dolls 1951, King & I 1952, Sound of Music 1960, Rent 1990
10. How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Where’s Charley, The Most Happy Fella, Greenwillow
11. Robert Alda (Alan Alda’s father)
12. Stubby Kaye (Nicely-Nicely) and Vivian Blaine (Adelaide)
13. Brigadoon, Guys and Dolls, Rent, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Sound of Music, King & I
Collaborative Concerts Spring 2010
In the Spring of 2010, the Granite State Choral Society performed a collaborative concert with the Rochester Choral Society, Rochester, England and the First United Methodist Church Choirs from Rochester, New Hampshire. Below are notes taken from the RCS Tour Chairman, Malcolm Moulton dated June 7, 2010.
The week before our scheduled departure, the airline flights in the United Kingdom were cancelled due to an airline union action. Jessica (the tour organizer from the UK) tried her hardest to get RCS members out, but to no avail. After another flight was located that assured they could fly together as a group, a group email was sent out to reschedule the flight to arrive in New York and not Boston as no flights were available at that time. A unanimous vote to “go ahead” was cast.
Upon arriving at Heathrow the morning of our departed flight, Phillip discovered that there were seats for all of us on a British Airways flight direct to Boston instead of New York and Jessica contacted Jan Kazlauskas (tour organizer in NH) of our flight changes. Thanks to prompt action and a bit of team work, we all went to the correct airport and were met there by Jan.
On Memorial Day, we had a rehearsal at the First United Methodist Church in Rochester, NH with the Granite State Choral Society and the First United Methodist Church choirs. GSCS Director Seth A. Hurd conducted Handel’s Coronation Anthems, FUMC Director Kevin G. Lindsay conducted Faure’s Requiem, and RCS Director Roger Sayer conducted Rutter’s Gaelic Blessing, who otherwise gave organ accompaniment and a solo recital.
Our second rehearsal was at the South Church in Portsmouth, NH. After an early dinner and an extended “warm-up” we performed our concert. The singing was really excellent and the audience very appreciative. I gave greetings on behalf of RCS.
Our third rehearsal was on Friday at the South Congregational Church, when we crossed into the State of Maine to Kennebunkport. We had an afternoon rehearsal, and a wonderful meal, provided by the church. At the evening concert I presented to the church’s organist, Paul Schnell, one of the two commemorative plaque’s that Alan Cartwright commissioned.
Our fourth and final rehearsal was on Saturday back at FUMC Rochester church with a concert in the evening. The singing was excellent and the audience appreciative. I presented to Mr. TJ Jean, the Mayor of Rochester, a greetings scroll (shown at right) signed by the Mayor of Medway and he presented us with a framed proclamation declaring June 5th “Rochester Choral Society Day”. I then presented a scroll to Karen Manning the President of GSCS and Diane DeVries the Vice-President and to Kevin Lindsay, Director of Music at FUMC, and Pastor James Cann the other commissioned commemorative plaque.
Thanks to Jessica’s outstanding organization, the return trip early went like clockwork.
Many of our members have been involved in productions, or have enjoyed being an audience member at Broadway plays. Here are a few stories they shared with us:
In high school I was in the chorus for productions of Pippin and Kiss Me Kate. I have seen many musicals over the years, the most memorable being my favorite Les Miserables twice in Boston and once in Ogunquit, and also Wicked on Broadway two years ago.
– Jen Sakash
I was in two Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in high school and college and have sung in many choruses in the Seacoast area–Con Tutti, the Community Chorus of South Berwick, and the Seacoast Singers. With the Garrison Players of Dover, I was in Good News and The Music Man.
My brother Michael is currently in Wicked on Broadway. Other shows he’s been in on Broadway are Cats, Grand Hotel, and The Secret Garden. He sings tenor, acts and dances. Seeing him perform is one of the joys of my life.
I live in Dover where I enjoy playing bridge, gardening, and historic research.
– Joan Carol DeVries
I have seen Les Miserables onstage in Boston and New York, Phantom of the Opera three times, twice on Broadway and once in Boston. Other shows I have seen are Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon on Broadway, and Cats in San Diego. I have directed musicals for Arts Rochester, Fiddler on the Roof, Lil Abner and Dames at Sea for Arts Rochester. I love the theatre and almost all kinds of music.
I currently live in Farmington and have lived in or around Rochester most of my life.
– Ele Chambers
The first stage production I saw was The Sound of Music at the Rochester Opera House when I was a child around 12. The Opera House at that time was having regular productions. The Opera House had been a part of my extended family: my mother and her sister performed there as children and my grandfather sang and played fiddle in a group that performed there regularly.
As an adult, the first Broadway performance I saw was Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables in New York City. During the Phantom production I sat in the first row balcony and remember the chandelier coming down and the Phantom was riding atop of it. During the Les Mis production I was fortunate to sit in the fourth row back. All I remember was coming from the theatre completely engrossed in the production I had seen. It was such a memorable experience.
I have taken my grandchildren to various productions at “Hackamatack” and the area high schools when they have their productions. I think it is very important to introduce to them the love of music and theatrical presentations.
I have performed at the Rochester Opera house in the “shepherds’ chorus” of Amahl and the Night Visitors, and this selection also with the Rochester Area Community Chorus under the direction of Sylvia Dowst.
– Donna Downes
Throughout school and in college I sang in chorus and drama club, and acted, stage managed, and worked on props and costumes for numerous productions. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many plays and musicals over the years from Portland to Boston. The most memorable production I saw was Miss Saigon on Broadway and the helicopter landing on the stage was spectacular.
– Diane DeVries
Several members of our family were in a production of Oliver with Just Love to Sing Productions at the Farmington Opera House last year (June 2010). My son played Oliver, my wife Mrs. Sowerberry, another son was an orphan/thief, and I played Fagin. What a great bunch of memories we made! In high school, I performed in My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, Guys and Dolls and Annie through our theatre department.
– Carrol Stevens
From the Archives
In May of 1991, several board members of the Rochester Area Community Chorus (now known as Granite State Choral Society) teamed up with the Rochester Centennial committee, under the chairmanship of Councilor Terry McGarghan for a 10 day city wide celebration called the Heritage Festival.
During this 10 day event, which started off on Friday, June 21, the events that took place included the Wind Symphony and Jazz Band playing, reenactments of both Revolutionary and Civil war camps at the Rochester Commons, a 5K road race, a 10K race sponsored by the Seacoast Striders, a Youth Festival and entertainment nightly at the Rochester Commons, a classic car display drive to Cardinal’s restaurant for a “Cruise Night”, an ecumenical service at Holy Rosary Church, and walking tours around the city, The Rochester Area Community Chorus presented a concert Rochester Centennial Celebration on Saturday, June 22nd and Sunday, June 23rd at the First United Methodist Church under the direction of David Warfield. The culmination of festival events was on July 3rd with fireworks at the Rochester Fairgrounds
One unique happening was on June 29th with the coming together of Rochesters around the world. Among the contacts will be the Mayor of Rochester, England contacting Rochester, NH.
Any funds realized during the events went toward the building restoration of the Rochester Opera House. Members of the Rochester Centennial Celebration from the Rochester Area Community Chorus were the President, Helen Hathorne, Secretary Donna Downes and At-large Board member Ele Chambers.
-excerpts taken from The Rochester Courier, Monday, May 6, 1991