Quarterly Notes, May 2013
A word from the director
It is always exciting to prepare music for another concert. In a few short weeks on May 4 & 5 the Granite State Choral Society will perform its Spring 2013 concert, ¡CANTA! The title is simple and yet captures the essence of the program of choral music with a nod to the Spanish language. While many of the selections will be sung in Spanish there will be material in the English language including music from Broadway with a Hispanic background. Hopefully that is enough of a hint to give it away.
The centerpiece of the program is a work entitled Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez which was composed in 1963 and is a mass setting with both popular and liturgical styles from Argentina. It is a rhythmic and exciting piece that will have you tapping your toes in many of the sections. In contrasting areas, the music is hauntingly beautiful and soulful.
On behalf of the Granite State Choral Society, I invite you to join us on May 4 & 5 to enjoy this musical journey of singing in the Spanish language. We hope to see you there.
Seth A. Hurd
Looking ahead to Fall 2013, we are planning concerts with a classical theme, featuring Mass in D Major, Op 86 by Dvorak, and Sehet, welch eine Liebe by J.S. Bach, BWV 64. Rehearsals start September 8, 2013.
GSCS Elects New Board of Directors
At the annual meeting, held on Sunday, March 3rd the choral membership voted in the Board of Directors for the upcoming year of 2013. New board members voted in were Diane DeVries and Carroll Stevens, Jr. Re-elected board members were Carole Macalaster and Jen Sakash. Retiring from the board was Laura Lundborn and Kate Clarke. The membership wishes to thank them for their years of service.
Board members: Front Row: Carole Macalaster – Treasurer, Karen Manning – President, Jen Sakash, Diane DeVries – Vice President, Seth Hurd – Music Director
Second Row: Walter Casler, Donna Downes – Recording Secretary, Kris Ebbeson,
Carroll Stevens, Jr.
Back Row: David Manning,
Ken Manning, Elizabeth Tonkins-Agea – Corresponding Secretary
Notes from the president…
To all my fellow music lovers:
GSCS is such an important part of my whole family’s lives. I continue to be proud to be a member and feel honored again to have been able to represent the group as the president over the last year.
We began our 2012 rehearsals learning a program entitled, En Masse featuring the King of Instruments. Quite a title to our program, wasn’t it? And what a fantastic program it was! We had the pleasure of singing with a very talented orchestra and of course, our very wonderful and extremely talented organist and rehearsal accompanist, Jim Bullock. I have listened to the CD from this concert over and over again and am struck by how professional we sound. Learning this very challenging music and singing it with a full orchestra was daunting at times, but all our hard work paid off in the end. Our balance was truly wonderful. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be, given our low number of singers and the full orchestra, but again, I shouldn’t have worried. GSCS is truly a force to be reckoned with when we put our minds to it!
We then changed gears and prepared a November concert in joint collaboration with the Berwick Academy Upper School Chorus entitled, Tribute: Americana. Seth had prepared each group so well for this concert, that after only one full dress rehearsal with both groups and the full orchestra we again had an impressive program. These concerts were totally different from the spring concerts, but just as beautiful and so much fun. Singing with the students was a pleasure and the concert was full of wonderful music selections that many in our audiences recognized and appreciated.
Please check out our newly redesigned website – it really looks great! It continues to have a lot of great information in it, pictures of the group, recordings of GSCS to listen to, forms and history and much more. We have activated a PayPal account to make it easier for our audience members to purchase tickets, make donations or purchase any goods. If you haven’t checked it out, you should:
We had a great time again with our Community Sing day on December 8th. We had good participation from our singers that traveled from Colonial Hill in Rochester to Langdon Place in Dover, to Bellamy Fields in Dover and then to Strawbery Banke. All the places that we visited enjoyed the traditional Christmas carols that we presented. It was a cold evening at Strawbery Banke, as usual, but what a fantastic way to share our music! I love the crowds, the candles, the lights, the decorations and who doesn’t like the Cider House! We also enjoyed being on (and off) the stage at the Rochester Opera House for the Rochester Chamber of Commerce After-Hours Christmas event.
I look forward to another fantastic year of renewal, hard work, music, friendship and laughter.
Granite State Choral Society
¡Enhorabuena! It’s a Fiesta! Cinco de Mayo
History – Mexico
Cinco de Mayo (Spanish: fifth of May) is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory of the French forces on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day—the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is celebrated on September 16, very similar to our Fourth of July celebration.
History – United States
The Cinco de Mayo holiday did not originate in Mexico, but rather in America. It originated from Mexican immigrants to the United States from the state of Puebla in Mexico, where the holiday was called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla). In the American-West, in the middle of the 19th century, immigrants living in California during the American Civil War period are credited with being the first to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States. Its origins were from the celebration of their commemoration of freedom and democracy.
In the United States, some historians agree on the significance of the Mexican army’s victory. It is felt that France’s real goal was to break up the American Union. The consequence of Cinco de Mayo has been thus recognized to play an important part in the Union winning the Civil War. While the French army, under the command of Napoleon lll was defeated by the Mexican army, it stopped Napoleon lll the opportunity to resupply the Confederate rebels for another year. Fourteen months after the battle of Puebla, the Civil War ended.
The holiday, which has been celebrated in California continuously since its origins, is virtually ignored in Mexico. Today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.
A study done within the United States in 2006 cited there were more than 150 Cinco de Mayo celebrations, over 21 states. Many celebrations display Cinco de Mayo banners and hold special events to educate people about its historical significance. Special events highlight Mexican culture, especially music, regional dancing, beverages, and food.
Celebrations, observing Cinco de Mayo are held all over the world. Events tied to Cinco de Mayo can be found in the United States, Canada, Cayman Islands, the Caribbean, Jamaica, Australia, London, Paris and New Zealand.
Latin-Americans in the United States look upon the celebration as one of Mexican heritage. The music chosen for this concert is in celebration of Latinos all over the world. The Misa Criolla is Bolivian/Argentinian inspired, West Side Story is Puerto Rican influenced, Yo Le Canto – Venezuelan, Oy Es Dia de Placer and Oye are Mexican in origin.*
*Some article information taken from Wikipedia
Language: The Art of Singing
by GSCS Member Don Brown
In the many years I have been singing, I have sung in different choral groups and different languages. The choral groups I have sung with are All State Chorus in Spaulding High School, Granite State Choral Society since it was first founded in 1974 (formerly Rochester Area Community Chorus), and the New Hampshire Friendship Chorus (1998, 2002, 2006).The languages that I have sung and the music I recall are: Latin – Gloria (Vivaldi, Bass), Agnus Dei (Mozart, Vierne), Requiem (Faure, Mozart, Rutter, Duruflé), Masses (Mozart, Schubert, Haydn), Stabat Mater (Haydn); Italian – Carmen Opera’s and Operetta’s; French – Un Canadien Emant, Cantique (Racine); Russian, Latvian, Estonian – Bridges of Song, Song Festival, Rejoice o Virgin (Rachmaninoff); Hebrew – Cordo Di Schiavi Ebrie – Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Verdi); South African – Bashana Haba’ah (arr. Leavitt); German – Sleepers Wake- Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Bach); Zulu – Mangwani Mpulele (Bikel); Yugoslavia – Niska Banja (Page); Spanish – Spuntato (Verdi), A La Nanita Nana (arr: Folstrom), Misa Criolla (Ramierez), Oy es Dia De Placer (Pascual), Oye (Papoulis), Vamos a Bailar (Davison); Scottish Folk – Ca’ the Yowes (R.V. Williams, Goetze); Segakoor – Mu Isamaa on minu arm (Puhalikult); Venezuelan – Yo Le Canto Todo el Dia (Brunner) and other languages – African, Swahili, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese.
Welcome New Members to GSCS
I was born, and grew up in Totowa, New Jersey. Both of my parents had musical backgrounds. My father sang tenor in a quartet.
At the age of 10, I sang Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” as a solo on the local radio station, WPAT Paterson in New Jersey. From then, through my teen years I sang solos at church weddings and community civic functions.
At 16, I was invited to try out as a soloist with a local band. My mother discouraged me from doing that. I joined a choral group where I became a soloist.
One outstanding time I remember, was being on stage in the Rivoli Theatre in New York with Ralph Bellamy on the program. I also auditioned in Radio City, NY for a position, with others from our choral group, who auditioned for radio parts in the “Green Hornet”. Some of our members were students from the Julliard School of Music, NYC.
As a military wife living in Morocco, Africa, I continued to perform solo work in the capitol city of Rabat with a French band. I also performed in several Variety Shows given overseas.
My music career also included teaching beginner’s piano in New Hampshire and Florida, where I retired to but now have returned.
I attended UNH, majoring in Spanish which I have taught in the past and am presently teaching.
I grew up in France and Switzerland, where I studied piano and solfège for many years at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. In college I sang in a double octet that performed a capella, which was the last of my formal choral involvements until I met Seth in a Sanford (Maine) Adult Education class in the 1990’s. A career in college teaching (Vassar, the University of Minnesota, and UNH’s College for Lifelong Learning) took center stage in the intervening years, leaving little time for extra-curricula’s.
A dozen years ago, following my mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease, I left academia to become the Alzheimer’s Association’s educator for the state of Maine, providing workshops for clinical staff, family caregivers, and the general public. It was an extraordinarily rich experience that again left little time for participating in a choral group.
Not until my retirement was I able to commit to regular rehearsals, and since then I have sung with the South Berwick Community Chorus (sitting next to Donna Downes), Women Singing Out in Portsmouth, and Granite State Choral Society. My great love is the music of JS Bach, whose extraordinary genius has been central to my life since childhood, as well as other Baroque composers of choral music.
I live in the rural outskirts of Sanford where my days are occupied with gardening, mowing the meadows, working on the wood pile, practicing yoga, keeping up with Alzheimer’s research, studying Baroque music, and exploring Eastern and Western philosophical traditions. Singing with GSCS under Seth’s fine leadership has added icing to my already bountiful cake.
I started singing at a very young age because of membership at my church. My sisters, who have much better voices than I, started teaching me to sing better and taught me how to harmonize. This got me interested in becoming involved in a chorus. That is why I have joined this wonderful choral society.
Miranda, a soprano, joined GSCS in Fall 2012.
Craig Davis lives in Rochester and is in his second semester of singing with GSCS. Craig grew up in Maine and started singing as a young child, mostly around the campfire at summer camp and at family gatherings. He started playing saxophone in fifth grade and continued playing in various school bands through his college years, including playing during several summers in Community Bands. He did not start singing in an organized group until he joined the Church Choir at Christ Episcopal Church in Portsmouth about four years ago. He started singing with GSCS because he enjoyed listening to the concerts that his girlfriend, Kris Ebbeson, and friend, Diane DeVries performed in, and has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of such a welcoming group that is so passionate about singing and entertaining their audiences!
I sing because singing makes me happy! This is my first time participating in GSCS and I also sing with my church choir at St. Mary Parish in Rochester, NH.
I enjoy a variety of music, especially spiritual and classical compositions and have been taking private voice lessons from Andrea Veal Studio for the past year.
My family is also quite musical, both my sons sing with the Coe Brown Select Chorus.
Ethan, a tenor, joined GSCS in Fall 2011.
Hi I’m Susan. I have always LOVED music! My mother used to sing around the house all the time to Frank Sinatra and the like. I may have gotten my love of music from her. Unfortunately, I didn’t do much with that love when I was younger other than enjoying listening to music and attending many many concerts.
My appreciation for all kinds of music has grown over the years and I wanted to participate in it. I am originally from Manchester and sang with the Notre Dame Choir for a short time. After moving to the NH seacoast I joined the choir of a gospel group and had a great time singing with them at various venues for four years and made some great friends during my time with them. I got to experience recording a CD in the studio which was very exciting. I later joined another seacoast gospel choir and sang with them for a year but have taken a break. I love gospel music but still enjoy all types of music from rock to classical.
I joined GSCS for a few reasons. I wanted more opportunities to sing. I love the camaraderie of learning music with others and sharing the love of music with others who love it too. The gospel groups encourage more feeling the music than reading music so GSCS is quite a challenge for me.
I have to say how happy I am that I joined GSCS. The members and director are wonderful and have been very encouraging to me. I’m so enjoying the challenge and seeing and feeling each program come together. I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me to stay on when I thought it might be too difficult for me.
I live in Gonic with my husband Bill and 11-year old son Simon, who I encourage to get more involved in learning music while he is young and who has been playing the clarinet for 3 years now.
Emily, a soprano, joined GSCS in Spring 2013.
Coming from a family who loves music, I started singing at a very early age. I sang mostly with my sister in duets and small groups.
At the age of twelve I sang first soprano in a girls’ choir for two years. We performed for area nursing homes and churches. At that age, I was old enough to join my church choir. I sang with them for 2 years.
I am now the choir director and accompanist for the worship portion of the service at Walnut Grove Baptist Church located on the Salmon Falls Road in Rochester. I also accompany services at the Rochester Manor and Langdon Place in Dover.
I stumbled upon GSCS this winter as I was looking for a group in the area. And I look forward to singing with them in the future.
The Choral Society feels that it is important to reach out to the community in service. In doing so, we feel that we are giving back a part of us to those who faithfully give to us, either by their time, talents or their gifts.
On Saturday, May 20th we visited the residents at Colonial Hill in Rochester to sing part of the spring concert music selection. Later during the year, on December 8th, we went caroling; returning to Colonial Hill, then traveling on to Dover to sing at Langdon Place and Bellamy Fields. After, we stopped for lunch along the way before heading to Portsmouth for our yearly sing at the Candlelight Stroll in Strawbery Banke. Completing our caroling circuit for the season, we sang at the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Business After Hours, at the Rochester Opera House on December 11th.
The annual Messiah Sing was held at the Portsmouth Music Hall on Tuesday, December 18th. This is a community fundraising event and all area singers and choruses are invited to come and participate.
Fellowship is equally important to the members and each month, the third Sunday of the month, the date is scheduled at Applebee’s Restaurant for fun and fundraising. As this is an all-day event, eat in or take out, the chorus members, family and friends can take full advantage of the menu around their day’s schedule. The choral society receives a percentage of the sales.
Collaborative Concerts Fall 2012
In the summer of 2012, the Granite State Choral Society began to explore doing a collaborative concert with the Berwick Academy Upper School Chorus. Both groups under the direction of Seth A. Hurd started to prepare their music programs. The two concerts titled Tribute: Americana promised to be a wonderfully eclectic selection of music that paid a tribute not only to our Veterans, but also to all the American people. The concerts were presented at the First United Methodist Church in Rochester and Christ Episcopal Church in Portsmouth. The concert was accompanied by a chamber orchestra and pianists from both groups.
The concert was very well received by the appreciative audience. The members from both of the groups were very excited to sing together. The program began with GSCS performing the Armed Forces Salute- The Pride of America! followed by All Good Gifts, from Godspell; I Want to Die Easy, a traditional Negro spiritual; What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor, a sea shanty that was revived in the 20th century among sailors; Canticle of Peace, a unison peace with a powerful message taken from Isaiah 2:2-4 expressing strong words that speak of a day when there will be no more war; Shenandoah, a traditional folk song, and I’m Gonna Cross the River Jordan, a traditional spiritual.
The Berwick Academy Upper-School Chorus then took center stage beginning with the Irish ballad Danny Boy, considered to be the unofficial signature song and anthem of Irish Americans and Irish Canadians, written by the English composer Frederick Weatherly; I See a Star, a charming and touching piece that offers a wish for the world to find hope, peace and love; Johnny has Gone for Soldier, an American folk song that dates to the Revolutionary War; Our Gift for You, a special song that presents a musical gift of peace anytime of the year; Uncle Joe, a playful hoedown piece with spark and rhythmic piano accompaniment; and Don’t Rain on My Parade, from Funny Girl.
Following Berwick Academy’s program, the entire ensemble sang combined selections of the The Blessing, originally sung with beauty and tenderness by the Celtic Women, a song that speaks of the love between two people; Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by American composer Julia Ward during the American Civil War period, and finishing with a beautiful song, Wherever You Are, adapted by Paul Mealor from the poems, letters and prayers of military wives.*
* Notes taken from Spring program
From the Archives
— Excerpts from an article from Foster’s Daily Democrat about a 1998 GSCS performance at the Rochester Opera House.
Music fills the Opera House
By David Warren
Rochester Bureau Chief
ROCHESTER — The even acoustics of the Opera House were on display Friday evening as the music of the Granite State Choral Society reverberated off the walls of the 89-year-old theater.
Friday’s performance was the latest in a string of shows scheduled this summer that Opera House officials hope will draw a wide cross-section of people in the area.
The Choral Society, a long-standing group of singers primarily from the Seacoast, played to a predominantly older crowd that heard soothing folk, Broadway and patriotic renditions. More than 50 singers, accompanied by a pianist, stretched across the stage two rows deep. In formal dress, the chorus sang two sets to a crowd stretched throughout the theater.
The Granite State Choral Society is led by conductor David Warfield of Somersworth, NH.
The president of the Choral Society is Natalie Wensley, according to Kevin Flynn, operations manager for the Opera House.
Among the songs performed by the chorus were “Shenandoah,” “Wild Mountain Thyme,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Four of the solo singers for the chorus are Laura Southworth, Sharon Parker, Michael Garneau, and Paul Britton.