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Genesee Chorale

Genesee Chorale sings in the holiday season with annual Christmas Concert on Saturday

By Howard B. Owens
genesee carole christmas concert 2023

From Medieval times through the Renaissance, the classical period, and into modern carols, Christmas music has changed to reflect the times. On Saturday, at St. James Episcopal Church, the Genesee Chorale will take listeners through that journey in a program entitled "Christmas Through the Ages." 

"We're going to go through the process of the beginning of Christmas carols back in the 1400s and then work our way up," said Musical Director and Conductor Ric Jones. "It's a wide mix of styles and in music, a lot of things that will be familiar, some that there'll be new."

Jones said he expects the audience to find the performance as entertaining as it is beautiful.

"The whole concert begins with Gregorian chants so that's really cool," Jones said. "We have four instrumentalists. They're gonna be joining us on about six different pieces, so they'll really liven things up. We have some great, really cool arrangement of "Jingle Bells." It's a rearrangement of the Barbra Streisand version of Jingle Bells written for choir. That's a lot of fun. And then "Joy to the World," "Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending" -- there's some really beautiful, large moving pieces as well."

The concert also isn't without its challenges for the choir, which should also impress listeners.

"The biggest challenging piece is probably "Here We Come A-wassailing," which is a traditional song, but it's super challenging for the choir," Jones said.  "It's seven verses, and every verse gets more and more intricate. So it begins with the choir in unison and as we progress, it gets more and more integrated, and it breaks out into eight different parts of one point. So they're going to do great on that."

Jones said he always looks forward to the traditional Christmas concert because, for him, it signals the beginning of the season.

"You get into the mood and the spirit," Jones said. "Also, they're always well attended. They're always popular concerts because people just people want to hear great music at Christmastime."

The Genesee Chorale will perform Christmas Through the Ages 4 p.m. on Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church. For more information, click here. To purchase tickets, click here.

Photos by Howard Owens.

genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023
genesee carole christmas concert 2023

Genesee Chorale presents Across the Vast Eternal Sky in Batavia and Le Roy in May

By Howard B. Owens
genesee chorale

The Genesee Chorale will present two spring concerts on May 19 and May 21, presenting the music of Ola Gjeilo in Batavia and in Le Roy.

The program is called Across the Vast Eternal Sky and will feature the Greycliffe String Quartet and Riesa Cassano on Oboe.

The May 19 performance is at 7 p.m. at Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St., Batavia, and the May 21 performance is at 4 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 1 East Main St., Le Roy.

The chorale is under the music direction of Ric Jones. Janine Fagnan is associate conductor and Doug Hanson is the accompanist.

Tickets are $10 and are available from members of the chorale or at the door.

genesee chorale
genesee chorale
genesee chorale

Genesee Chorale performs 'From Star to Star' on Saturday

By Howard B. Owens


The Genesee Chorale performs its annual holiday concert -- From Star to Star -- at 4 p.m. on Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church.

Ric Jones is the director. Janine Fagnan is the associate conductor, and Doug Hanson is the accompanist.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or at

St. James is located at 405 East Main St., Batavia.

Photos by Howard Owens.







Genesee Chorale preparing for new season, open to new members

By Press Release


Rehearsals start soon for the Genesee Chorale and the chorale is eager to accept new members into the group.

Rehearsals are Monday evenings starting at 7 p.m. and wrapping up by 9 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church. 

The first rehearsal is on Sept. 12.

The chorale is planning its seasonal concert for December.

Singers of all levels of experience are welcome. 

To register, visit

More information is also available at

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens

Life's journeys explored in Genesee Chorale performance on May 15

By Howard B. Owens


Life is a journey, and where we wind up often depends on the roads we choose, hence among the most memorable words ever written come from Robert Frost, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood ..."

Paths taken, and those not taken, is the theme of the next Genesee Chorale program to be performed at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 15, at Elba Central School, 57 South Main St., Elba.

In the performance, the Chorale tells the tale of the Traveler in the coming of age story of the "Prodigal Son," the traveler in the Monomyth, the "Hero’s Journey Quest Story." The traveler appears in stories of discovery and adventure. The traveler also trods the journey within, reflectively traveling a path to find love, peace, and spiritual fulfillment in the "Winding Road of Life."

Musical selections for this performance also include some well-known favorites like "The Impossible Dream" and "You'll Never Walk Alone," recognizable hits from "The Greatest Showman" and "The Lion King," as well as new choral works by John Rutter, Ysave Barnwell, John Leavitt, and others. 

"This concert will take the audience on the journey of life," said publicist Janine Fagnan, "from when we first step out onto life's path, through all the moments and experiences that it can throw at us until we finally come home and can reflect on the journey."

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from any Genesee Chorale member, on the website at, or at the door. 

This program is made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. 

Photo: File photo from 2018

Genesee Chorale to hold virtual concert 'Like A River In My Soul' at 7 Saturday, tickets are $5

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee Chorale invites you to join them for a unique Spring virtual performance at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 26.

The performance is titled "Like A River In My Soul." The music the Genesee Chorale has chosen uses images and themes of nature meant to inspire and provide joy and hope.  

Tickets for this 30-minute virtual performance are $5 and are available here.

Your "ticket" purchase provides you access to the private premiere virtual concert. You will receive the link to the concert via email at noon on June 26th.

The concert goes "live" at 7 o'clock. The link will be available beyond that time. So, if you would like to see the performance but are unable to be there at 7 p.m. on the 26th, you can still watch and enjoy the concert with the same link!

For more information, please visit our website at or email

Please join us, and let the Genesee Chorale raise your spirit through song!

Genesee Chorale invites you to virtual holiday performance Dec. 19: 'And on Earth, Peace'

By Press Release

Press release:

The Genesee Chorale invites you to join them for a unique holiday virtual performance at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19th.

The performance, titled "And on Earth, Peace" is meant to evoke a sense of calm, hope and peace; in this time of uncertainty and fear, our music is meant to be a welcome balm to our community, glad tidings and heartfelt goodwill from Batavia's own Genesee Chorale.

Selections will feature the entire Genesee Chorale as well as select ensembles of its members, culminating in a full choir performance of "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

Tickets for this 30-minute virtual performance are $5 and are available here.

Your "ticket" purchase provides you access to the private premiere virtual concert. You will receive the link to the concert via email on Dec. 19th at 6 p.m. The concert goes "live" at 7 p.m. The link will be available beyond that time. So, if you would like to see the performance but are unable to be there at 7 p.m. on the 19th, you can still watch and enjoy the concert with the same link!

For more information, please visit our website at or email:

Please join us, and let the Genesee Chorale help you usher in the holiday season!

GCC Foundation and Tompkins Financial invite all to 'Be the Light' for virtual musical fundraiser Dec. 12

By Press Release

Submitted photo and press release:

When Thomas A. and Kim M. Cox found out that Genesee Community College intended to move forward with their annual Encore event on Saturday, Dec. 12, despite the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, they were intrigued.

"We've always enjoyed working with GCC, including on Encore in the past and we have been supporters of the GCC Foundation and the scholarships it provides for years," said Tom Cox. "We were excited to take on the challenge when the Foundation asked us to return and cochair Encore 2020."

Last month, Kim and Tom, a current member of the GCC Foundation Board of Directors, kicked off the Encore 2020 efforts and got right to work.

The couple excitedly announced that this year's Encore event is being sponsored by Tompkins Financial AdvisorsTompkins Bank of Castile, and Tompkins Insurance Agencies.

"Tompkins has always been community focused, and now more than ever, it's important for organizations to step up and recognize the impact GCC has on its students and our community," said David S. Boyce, Tompkins Insurance president and CEO. "Thank you to GCC for its role in educating our future leaders."

With the support of Tompkins Financial, the GCC Foundation has been able to secure very special performances by the Genesee Symphony Orchestra as well as a special appearance by members of the Genesee Chorale!

Perhaps the newest feature of this year's Encore event will be the venue -- the entire performance will be available online! Visit here for tickets to access the performance from the comfort of one's own home and an extra special offer that will make the evening even brighter!

Join the virtual celebration on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m.

To "Be the Light" and sponsor Encore 2020, please complete the online forms here or contact the Foundation Office at (585) 345-6809, or today.

The following sponsorships are available:

  • Virtual Table Sponsor – $2,000 Sponsorship includes 10 tickets to the event, program recognition, and dinner for 10 (takeout or gift certificate).
  • Conductor’s Circle Sponsor – $1,000 – Sponsorship includes six tickets to the event, program recognition and dinner for six (takeout or gift certificate).
  • Golden Baton Society Sponsor – $600 – Sponsorship includes four tickets to the event, program recognition and dinner for four (takeout or gift certificate).
  • Inner Circle Sponsor – $300 – Sponsorship includes two tickets to the event, program recognition and dinner for two (takeout or gift certificate).
  • Platinum Patron Ticket – $100 – Ticket includes one ticket to the event, and dinner for one (takeout or gift certificate).
  • Concert Ticket – $50 – Ticket includes admission for one to the event (no dinner).

Area Restaurants Generously Supporting Encore with Dinner Takeout Menus

Alex’s Place – Batavia

Black & Blue – Rochester

Hole In The Wall  – Perry

Yard of Ale – Piffard

Zambistro Restaurant – Medina

VIDEO: Genesee Chorale performs special arrangement of 'Lean on Me'

By Howard B. Owens

In the pandemic era, it might be a while before members of the Genesee Chorale can do what they love most, coming together to sing for the public, so Director Ric Jones organized the musicians to create a socially distanced vocal performance.

Each member of the ensemble recorded their parts individually and Jones mixed them together into a single performance.

Genesee Chorale cancels spring season concerts May 1 and May 3

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee Chorale, in light of coronavirus concerns, has canceled its spring 2020 season, including its previously scheduled May 1 and 3 concerts.

“Upon consideration of the safety of our members as well as the potential number of rehearsals to put together a concert in early May (if we are even able to assemble at that point), we have decided that this is the best decision for us at this time,” Chorale Director Ric Jones wrote in an email sent out to members Thursday.

Chorale Board of Directors members were unanimous in deciding to cancel the season, and also unanimous in their sadness at the necessity of doing so.

“Although I really love rehearsals and performing with the choir and I hate to see us lose out on the work we’ve done so far,” said Board Member Lindsay Edwards. “I think canceling the spring season is probably the best and safest move given the unknown nature of what is to come.”

Board members will be meeting at a later, safer date, to discuss future plans. The cancellation of the spring season is a “sad but wise decision,” said Board President Janine Fagnan, who urged members to stay healthy and safe.

Jones said the Chorale has some exciting things coming up for the fall season, including an invitational.

“At this time,” he advised singers, “please focus on your safety and that of your loved ones. I look forward to making music together soon.”

Genesee Chorale begins Monday night rehearsals Jan. 13 at St. James church

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee Chorale begins another season Jan. 13 , with rehearsals 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays leading up May concerts.

All voices are welcome.

The Chorale is under the direction of Ric Jones. Rehearsals are at St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia.

For further information contact Janine Fagnan at (585) 250-5483 or e-mail her at

Genesee Chorale performs Respighi's 'Laud to the Nativity' in Batavia Dec. 13, plus old favorites

By Billie Owens

Submitted photos and press release:

The story of the nativity, with all of its simplicity and grace, is featured in the Dec. 13 and 15 Christmas concerts of the Genesee Chorale.

Director Ric Jones has selected Ottorino Respighi’s “Laud to the Nativity,” and several old favorites with new arrangements he believes will delight the audience.

Concerts begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St., Batavia, and at 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at The Grove UMC, 11004 W. Center Street Ext., Medina. Tickets are $10 and are available through the Chorale website, or at the door.

The Respighi work, Jones said, is a master choral work that hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

“Respighi uses elements of Renaissance music throughout the work, with dance-like madrigals and Italian carols,” Jones said. “The accompaniment of the work was unique with him using a chamber sextet as accompaniment.

"Lastly, the theme of the work was great. It uses the poetry of 13th century Franciscan monk Jacopone da Todi. The text focuses on the angel, the shepherds, and Mary.”

The story is told through three soloists – a soprano representing the angel, a mezzo-soprano representing Mary and a tenor representing a shepherd – and full chorus, with instrumental accompaniment by a sextet drawing from talented local players, and Chorale’s pianist Douglas Hanson.

Mary Wojciechowski (inset photo, right) sings the soprano (angel) part. Wojciechowski has experience in musical theater, opera, jazz and classical voice, and has produced and starred in several jazz concerts.

She has been featured with the Brockport Symphony Orchestra, the Brighton Symphony Orchestra, the Gateswingers Big Band and the Rochester Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra.

On stage, she’s performed such roles as Adele in "Die Feldermaus," Sister Angelica in "Sister Angelica" and the Countess in "The Marriage of Figaro."

Mezzo-soprano Mariami Bekauri (below left inset photo) sings the role of Mary in “Laud to the Nativity.” She has been praised for her “warm” and “handsome” tone, and last month made her debut in the titular role of Rossini’s "La Cenerentola" with Buffalo Opera Unlimited.

She is appearing as mezzo-soprano soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s holiday concerts this month.

She is a graduate of Fredonia School of Music and currently teaches in the music department at Buffalo State College, Houghton College Buffalo and the Fredonia School of Music.

Tenor John Clayton (bottom left inset photo) performs the role of the shepherd in the Respighi piece.

He has been described as a gallant singer with the ability to “put the audience in standstill” and was designated “one of Buffalo’s top vocalists” by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. His is a familiar face on the Buffalo stage, with appearances in more than a dozen operas with Nickel City Opera, Opera Sacra and Buffalo Opera Unlimited.

Clayton often appears as a recitalist or concert soloist with choruses, including Orff’s "Carmina Burana" with the Genesee Chorale a few seasons ago. He recently returned from Italy where he debuted as Don Ottavio in Mozart’s "Don Giovanni."

“This piece has challenged the Chorale in the sense of style,” Jones said. “The piece uses so many different elements and styles that fold in to one another, and that is challenging.”

It is also a challenge to put the music of chorus and instrumentalists together.

“The Chorale has risen to these challenges and I think they will present a moving musical work that depicts the Christmas season,” Jones said.

“Laud to the Nativity” is sung in English translation and constitutes the first half of the program.

The remaining pieces include a new arrangement of "Silent Night" by Dan Forrest, using the traditional text and melody wrapped in what Jones describes as a “beautifully unique harmonic setting.” "Rise Up Shepherd" gets gospel-style treatment, and remaining selections feature new harmonies.

Genesee Chorale begins season with Monday night rehearsals starting Sept. 9

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee Chorale begins another season Sept. 9, with rehearsals 7 to 9 p.m. on Mondays leading up to Dec. 13 and 15 concerts.

Rehearsals are at St. James Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia.

Chorale members come from throughout Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, Livingston, Erie and Monroe counties. All voices are welcome.

The featured work this year is "Lauda per la Nativita del Signore," “Laud to the Nativity,” by Ottorino Resphigi.

The work is based on a poem by Jacopone da Todi (c. 1230-1306), a Franciscan friar who wrote a number of laudi (poems of praise) in his native Umbrian dialect, and is thought to have also written the Latin poem "Stabat Mater Doloroso."

Lauda per la Nativita del Signore puts considerable emphasis upon the birth of Jesus in a scene of poverty and humility,” said Chorale Director Ric Jones. “Jacopone’s poem is in the form of a short play, with parts for an angel, a shepherd and Mary, as well as a chorus.”

The remainder of the concert programs feature well-known Christmas songs centered around the theme of Jesus born in humility. Selections include "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Gesu Bambino," "Rise Up, Shepherd" and "Silent Night."

For further information, contact Janine Fagnan at (585) 250-5483 or e-mail janine4him@gmail.

Genesee Chorale celebrates the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber in concert May 19

By Billie Owens

The Genesee Chorale offers up a musical celebration not to be missed at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Northgate Free Methodist Church.

"Andrew Lloyd Webber: A Musical Celebration" will feature songs from the serious (“Pie Jesu” from "Requiem") to the silly (“Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” from "Cats"). Add some "Phantom of the Opera," "Love Never Dies" and "Evita," and your entertainment is guaranteed.

The program also includes solo and small group performances of other Webber favorites.

The performance will be at Northgate's South Campus, 350 Bank St., Batavia.

Tickets are $10 through or at the door. Please note that seating for this popular concert is limited.

Further information is available at the Chorale website, or by calling (716) 531-8986.

Genesee Chorale celebrates nature and the planet with two concerts next month

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Spring is a season when thoughts often turn to Earth. It is thus fitting that the Genesee Chorale celebrates nature and the planet in its April 5 and 7 concerts, “Voices of the Earth.”

The April 5 concert begins at 7 p.m. at Pavilion High School, 7014 Big Tree Road, Pavilion.

The April 7 concert begins at 4 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia., and will have the added feature of a display of art work by area students created in connection with GO ART!

In a time of concern about climate change the future of our planet, “Voices of the Earth” was a theme that came easily to Ric Jones, who directs the 70-member Chorale.

“As a lover of nature and spending time outdoors, I am always drawn to themes of nature in music,” he said. “As I was researching music, I found myself selecting music with themes of nature, and music that centered around beautiful poetry.

"It was a natural step from there to decide to make a program focused on the Earth. And with the devastation we are seeing in our world, I think it is important to draw attention to it, and our responsibilities for it.”

He looked for music that would challenge singers, and that would be both enjoyable and inspiring for singers and audience. Several of the selections are taken from poetry. For example, “There Will Come Soft Rains” and “The Cloud” are poems by Sara Teasdale, and “The Peace of Wild Things” is a poem by Wendell Berry.

Another poem, “Little Birds” by Octavio Paz in Spanish, was set to music by Eric Whitacre, who incorporated bird calls into the piece, as well as a surprise ending.  Listeners may also be surprised by special effects in “Whispering Waters.”

“I think the audience will really enjoy some of the nontraditional things we are doing with the choir,” Jones said. “Bird calls, sounds of water, etc. I also think they will really enjoy our special guest musicians, Bob Holley on bongos and Fran Woodworth on flute. The bongos help give 'Gently (Walk on the Earth)' a pop/world beat feel."

More traditional pieces include “The Pasture,” which invokes a pastoral America; “Linden Lea,” a Dorset (a coastal county in Southwest England) folk song; “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” an Anglican hymn; and an arrangement of “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

“I most want the audience to listen to the words,” Jones said. “The text is so important in these works. There are many moving words and much poetry designed to make us, as humans, stop and think  about the world around us.”

Tickets are $10 each. They may be purchased via credit card or PayPal through Chorale’s website box office, They are available as “will call,” or from Chorale members, or at the door. Further information is available on Chorale’s website.

Genesee Chorale presents 'Voices of the Earth' April 5 in Pavilion and April 7 in Batavia

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee Chorale sings a celebration of the planet with a concert called “Voices of the Earth” at 7 p.m., April 5, at Pavilion High School, 7014 Big Tree Road, Pavilion, and at 4 p.m., April 7, at St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia.

The April 7 concert will also feature a display of area students’ art work with a recycling theme.

Come hear “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “For the Beauty of the Earth” and other selections by the 70-member Chorale under direction of Ric Jones.

All tickets are $10 each and may be purchased via credit card or PayPal through Chorale’s website box office, They are also available as “will call” or from Chorale members or at the door.

Rehearsals for new season of Genesee Chorale starts Jan. 14, singers invited to join

By Billie Owens

A new season for Genesee Chorale is about to start. It is a nonprofit choral group drawing singers from Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans, Livingston, Erie and Monroe counties.

Genesee Chorale invites area singers to join in the new season, with Monday night rehearsals from 7 to 9 o'clock beginning Jan. 14 at St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia.

“Voices of the Earth” is the theme for April 5 and 7 concerts, and a May 19 concert will celebrate the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Ric Jones is director, and all skills and voices are welcome.

For further information contact Heather Lovelace at (716) 531-8986, e-mail, or visit the chorale's website,

Genesee Chorale debuts original piece inspired by Letchworth State Park at 'Glory and Majesty' concert

By Howard B. Owens


Genesee Chorale and Brighton Symphony Orchestra will perform a special holiday concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at Grace Baptist Church, Vine Street, Batavia, featuring an original work about Letchworth State Park, “Glory and Majesty.”

This concert is the debut a four-movement piece composed by Daniel Baldwin with lyrics taken from poems written by early visitors to Glen Iris Inn, which were assembled into a book by William Pryor Letchworth.  

The evening also includes familiar Christmas songs, such as “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Sleigh Bells,” introduces some newer pieces, and concludes with Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”  

Ric Jones, top photo, conducts.

Tickets, presale or at the door are $10. For presale tickets and further information, visit Chorale’s website,

Photos from Monday's rehearsal.







Genesee Chorale seeks singers of all skill levels in preparation for holiday concert

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Calling all singers! Join with the Genesee Chorale in preparing for a holiday concert of glory and majesty, including the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel’s "Messiah" and a newly commissioned work celebrating the beauty of Letchworth Park.

First season rehearsal is 7 to 9 p.m., Monday, Sept. 10, at St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia, with other rehearsals following Monday evenings leading to Dec. 12, 14 and 16 concerts.

Ric Jones is director, and all skills are welcome. For further information contact Heather Lovelace at (716) 531-8986, e-mail

Genesee Chorale to debut original work, 'The Waking'

By Howard B. Owens


Press release:

As he began the process of putting together this spring’s concert program, all Genesee Chorale Director Ric Jones could sense was turmoil in the world.  He felt that there was a large divide in the world, a divide that seemed to grow larger every day. He wanted  to counteract that divide and encourage people to embrace unity and peace.

Thus was born “The Call of Humanity,” a mix of contemporary, Gospel, choral and classical music, including the debut of one piece written specifically for the Genesee Chorale.

“I tried to do a variety of mini-themes within the program,” says Jones. “Prayer,” in the words of Mother Teresa, is about helping the needy.  Other selections, such as “We Shall Overcome,” “Harriet Tubman” and “MLK,” address civil rights and some  of the mega figures who have had an impact on that movement. The lyrics of “Across the Bridge of Hope” come from a poem written by a group of young friends in Ireland; one of the boys was killed in the fighting shortly after their poem was written.

Two pieces form the foundation of the concert program, “Song of the Universal” by Ola Gjeilo from a Walt Whitman poem, and “The Waking,”  written for the Genesee Chorale by Composer-in-Residence Daniel Baldwin from a Theodore Roethke poem.

“Song of the Universal” was the first piece to “grab” Jones as he went through the selection process. “The text is beautiful,” he said, “and I love the composer. I kept going back to it. I decided I’d make it the centerpiece.” 

“The Waking” stems from Jones’ desire to find “something different that inspires the Chorale and brings the community into Chorale.”

Luckily, GO ART! grant money was available, so, with the blessing of the Chorale’s Board, Jones began the fun and frustrating process of choosing text and composer for an original piece. He and his wife, Karen, pored over “a ton of different poems,” but kept coming back to Theodore Roethke’s famous poem. “I liked the rhythm in the text,” says Jones, “and I like the overall message.”

The text was also an inspiration for Baldwin, the composer chosen by Jones.

“The majority of text chosen for me to set is older and in the public domain,” Baldwin said in an e-mail interview. “The poem (Jones) sent was contemporary and very well done, but also spoke to me in a way I was not expecting. When writing vocal or choral music, text is the most important element and must flow naturally (speech, even conversational speech, has its own rhythms, etc.).”

For Baldwin, the text is the beginning.

“I always write out the poem by hand and apply rhythms to the text based on what feels natural when reading the poem aloud,” he said. “Then, based on the message and perceived mood of the poem, I assign themes to these rhythms, harmonize, etc. It’s a process!”

Baldwin hopes that people “read through the wonderful text in advance of hearing the piece. A vocal or choir performance is the musical equivalent to a dramatic reading. I set the poem how I heard it and how the text affected me. I hope the audience enjoys my interpretation.”

Jones has published some of Baldwin’s other works as part of his Imagine Music business.

“I love his music,” he said, “and I’ve watched him evolve. His music feels cinematic to me usually – that epic sound with grandiose chords.  I wanted to see what he’d do with this text.”

What Baldwin did was surprise Jones.

“This was more on the contemporary side,” Jones said. “It is different than I expected, and the first time I heard it, I went ‘hmmm,’ but as I listened, there was something haunting about that motif.” It is, he notes, a challenging piece and Chorale members have had to work hard to prepare it for the concert.

Concerts are at 7 p.m. May 4  at St. James Church and at 4 p.m. May 6 at Pavilion Junior-Senior High School Auditorium, 7014 Big Tree Road., Pavilion. Presale tickets cost $8 and are available from Chorale members or online at Tickets at the door cost $10.

Photos by Howard Owens.





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