By Juliana Schmidt
We are certainly still in the grips of winter. We may have more light at the end of the day, but two feet of snow is hardly a harbinger of spring. It has come to seem like eternal winter. A celebration of spring is in order! April will be here soon and with it not only the melting of the snow but spring concerts by The Menomonie Singers. The Menomonie Singers hopes to rejoice in spring in its themed program, Earth and Light. It’s no coincidence that the theme reflects the return of more light, and the observance of Earth Day held usually on April 22.
Included in the program are works by Eric Whitacre, Randall Thompson, Craig Hella Johnson, Ralph Johnson, Anthony Leach, Moses Hogan, Ola Gjeilo, Frank Ticheli, Andre Thomas, and James Mulholland.
For example, in, “Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre, one of the choral pieces which the choir will sing, a mother seal describes their surroundings to her baby while soothing it to sleep. The poem is by Rudyard Kipling which appears in his story, The White Seal. Whitacre’s music gives the impression of flowing water, ocean waves that ebb and flow.
Another choral piece in the choral program is Frank Ticheli’s haunting work, Earth Song. In it we find the lyric, “the scorched Earth cries out in vain.” This refers to war and its negative aftermath, not just for humans but for the earth itself. Music, as Ticheli says, becomes a refuge from the destruction, and inhumanity, the light of song shining strong.
The choir will be led by Brian Klein, conductor, and accompanied on the piano by RuthAnn Ledgerwood. Trio Viva, a local string trio, and Jean Enyeart, oboist, will join the choir in Ralph Johnson’s “This House of Peace.”
Concerts of this wonderful music will be held on Saturday, April 22, at 2 pm at First Presbyterian Church, Chippewa Falls; and Sunday, April 23, at 2:00 pm at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Menomonie.
While these performances carry no ticket fee, the suggested donation is $10.
Conductor Brian Klein is the choir’s fourth conductor. He has a degree in music education with an emphasis in choral conducting from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He is the choral director at Mondovi Middle and High Schools. He has also worked as an assistant conductor in Philadelphia and New York City. In addition, Klein was at one time a tenor in The Menomonie Singers.
Accompanying the choir on piano is RuthAnn Ledgerwood. A veteran piano accompanist, Ledgerwood is a member of Trio Viva. She has played for many a local music theater production and shows at the Mabel Tainter Theater. She also teaches English at Boyceville High School.
The Menomonie Singers is a non-profit music organization started in 1989. This adult community choir performs at various venues in Menomonie and western Wisconsin. Singers are a mix of many professions, including UW-Stout faculty members. The group frequently sings four-part, a cappella music.
The choir is looking for new members to expand the group to 40. Auditions will be held again in August with rehearsals beginning again shortly after auditions for concerts in the fall. Interested singers should contact Juliana Schmidt, Executive Director and founder, at email@example.com.
Check out our website at www.themenomoniesingers.org. The Menomonie Singers can also be found on Facebook.