May 20: Traditions

The Masterwork Chorus – Chris Shepard, Music Director>/p>

Selections of music representative of cultures around the world, including Ariel Ramirez’s Missa Criolla and African-American Spirituals.

Chatham United Methodist Church
460 Main Street (Route 124)
Chatham, NJ 07928

Saturday, May 20, 2017 8:00 pm

May 21: Americana Choral Concert

The Presbyterian Church of Toms River – Josh Melson, director

Americana Choral Concert
Arrangements of American hymns, folk songs, and patriotic music for choir and orchestra

The Presbyterian Church of Toms River

May 21, 2017: New Jersey Youth Chorus Spring Concert

New Jersey Youth Chorus

New Jersey Youth Chorus Spring Concert
The New Jersey Youth Chorus wraps up its 25th Anniversary Season with an afternoon of song. Featuring almost 200 young men and women in grades 4 through 12, NJYC’s five ensembles will bring a smile to your face and add a spring to your step.

Bernards High School
25 Olcott Avenue
Bernardsville, New Jersey

May 21, 2017 3:00pm

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June 2: Northern Lights

Monmouth Civic Chorus – Dr. Ryan Brandau

Northern Lights
The MCC season will close with the stunning music from the powerful singing traditions of the Baltic and Scandinavia in a diverse program titled Northern Lights. Works from Part, Esenvalds, Tormis, Kreek, Miskinis, and more will make the journey from the great north to Monmouth County.

St. Mary’s Church
1 Phalanx Road, Colt Neck, NJ

Friday, June 2, 2017, 8:00 pm

June 3/4: There Will Come Soft Rains

Harmonium Choral Society – Dr. Anne J. Matlack, Artistic Director

There Will Come Soft Rains
Eclectric settings celebrating rain, from the Renaissance to today; including Elgar, Whitacre & Dilworth

Grace Church
Madison, NJ

Saturday June 3, 2017, 7:30pm and Sunday June 4, 2017, 7:30pm

June 10, 2017: Choral Masterpieces – Anton Bruckner

Pro Arte Chorale – Maestro Steven Fox

Choral Masterpieces – Anton Bruckner
Members of the Clarion Orchestra (NYC) will join the Pro Arte Chorale in a glorious all Bruckner concert featuring Six Motets and Mass in E Minor.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Linwood Ave, Ringwood NJ

Saturday, June 10, 2017, 8:00 pm

Heading to Minneapolis

I hope many of you are planning to attend the 2017 National Convention in Minneapolis!  This year’s convention looks better than ever, with performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, exciting honor choir conductors like Eric Whitacre, and interest sessions, concerts, and exhibits covering every imaginable topic.

If you haven’t begun making your plans for the week, the complete schedule appears in the January issue of Choral Journal.  The official app for the conference was just released to the itunes and google play stores, and it can help you make the most of your time in Minneapolis.  The app contains the full schedule of events, and lets you make your own itinerary for the conference.  You can connect with colleagues through the app and even use it to find a place to eat.

Getting around Minneapolis is easy!  Metro Transit’s Blue Line will take you from the airport to downtown in 25 minutes for only about $2.  While we will hope for unseasonably warm temperatures, the Minneapolis Skyway System connects many of the conference venues and hotels, all without ever stepping foot outside.  A map of the downtown conference venues appears in January’s Choral Journal and the app as well.

NJACDA is planning a social event for members on Friday evening.  We will have more details available soon, and hope you will plan to join us.  Have safe travels, and we’ll see each other in Minneapolis!

Josh Melson

R&R Blog – June 2016, with Anne Matlack

attic memeIt is planning time! I don’t know about your process but mine involves moving around huge piles of music! I try to file and then I just re-pile.  Over the years I have enjoyed giving themed concerts because I find it the best way to organize my thoughts and attract audience while presenting a variety of styles from Renaissance to contemporary and global. Piles germinate until a theme rises to the top.  Nowadays as well as researching my own extensive collections (I have to touch everything—reminds me of the Ann Landers saying “no person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic”) I spend a lot of time on social media musical sites and YouTube and—ain’t modern life grand! If you are looking for theme ideas of repertoire feel free to drop me an email or look me up on Facebook.  I am also proud to say, 17 years of themed concert program notes are archived on Harmonium Choral Society’s website—feel free to snoop! Enjoy your process!

Singing Together, Not Just At The Same Time- 6 Best Ways To Improve Ensemble Awareness

What we can achieve together far exceeds what we can achieve alone.

As directors and singers, we intuitively know that choral ensembles succeed or fail as a group. A common trait among all great choirs is a heightened sense of ensemble. We can define this ‘sense of ensemble’ as awareness of how an one’s contributions interacts with the contributions of the rest of the group. Our choral ‘Spidey-sense,’ if you will.

It is crucial that we place high priority on developing a heightened sense of ensemble. Below are some ways that you can encourage your ensemble to sing together, not simply at the same time.

Prioritizing a unified breath is the single most important thing a group can focus on to promote a heightened sense of ensemble.

In addition to having a bunch of positive technical effects (release of tension, establishing vowel shape on inhalation, etc), committing to a breath that is absolutely together instantly places high value on acting together. It increases our corporate awareness of what our fellow singers are doing, even before the moment of phonation.

To start together, breathe together.

This really comes first! We all have different ways of establishing focus at a rehearsal, be it a rhythmic call and response exercise, a succinct verbal reminder about expectations, or a routine activity. However you get it, the important thing is that this focus is established and maintained. Don’t talk over your choir, and demand that your group is focused before giving an instruction. Rehearsals will be more efficient, and you will repeat yourself less. The trick is to never accept a lack of focus.

In many ways, learning to be a musician is learning the art of preparation. This might mean preparing for an audition, a rehearsal, or for singing a new phrase. So much of our lives involve intelligent and thorough preparation.

So, this means your singers need to know their music in order to be empowered to have musical opinions. Help free them from basic note/rhythm concerns by setting clear goals and expectations for knowing notes and rhythms. Some of my high school choirs use part recordings to learn their music. If you have a group that can sight-read from day one, celebrate!

A shared rhythmic pulse is essential to unified ensemble singing. This should be communicated in the breath impulse from the conductor, and maintained by everyone. A basic rule for singers is to internalize the whatever division of the beat is most prevalent in a score (for example: if you’re in common time, and you’ve got a lot of dotted-eighth/sixteenth rhythms, you know your singers need to internalize the sixteenth note to execute the rhythm successfully).

Some find it helpful to identify the three ways of interacting with a tempo (behind, on, or in front of the beat). A focus on being in front of the beat seems to yield the greatest success!

A phrase can only be as good as its first note, and by extension the breath that precedes it. Simply holding the first chord gives you an opportunity to assess how students are listening to each other, if we have a shared sense of tonal color, balance, etc. Make sure the first moment of a piece is successful. Remember, success breeds success!

Choirs have the privilege of working with text. Teach your choir to identify important syllables (circle them) and phrase to and away from them. Cultivate your singer’s intuitive ability to identify these important moments by asking them to share their opinions with their SINGING, not through verbalizing their ideas; they will discover they often have the same intuitive ideas about what words are most important.

Nouns and verbs are often important- they can always start with that!

-John Wilson

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