Choral Arts Ensemble will not be singing the same old song when the group’s 30th anniversary season kicks off with concerts Sept. 26 and 27.
Yes, the choir will, as usual, perform selections from the classic repertoire. But the season-opening concert will also feature members of the ensemble in unusual roles as instrumental soloists, as members of small vocal groups, and, really, as individuals.
“As members of a choir, we’re not supposed to stand out, we’re supposed to blend in, be part of the group,” said Rick Kvam, founder and director of the CAE.
For this “Singer Showcase” concert, though, the singers will not wear concert attire and will, with their demonstration of varied talents, definitely stand out front and center.
“Our audience members have often said they like learning about our individual singers,” Kvam said.
Well, here’s their chance.
“This sort of formula hadn’t occurred to me,” Kvam said. “But about two or three years ago, the singers put on an informal performance to show off their individual abilities.”
That’s when Kvam decided the format would be the perfect opening for the anniversary season.
So audiences will hear tenor David Sandness, accompanied by his wife, Michaela Sandness on violin, sing Ralph Vaughan Williams folk songs. They’ll hear the ensemble’s accompanist Jan Kvam and alto vocalist Peggy Veith perform a piano duet. Singer Rob Grill will perform on the recorder, and Michael Bostwick will play the clarinet. There will also be a barbershop quartet, a saxophone quartet and an Andrews Sisters-style trio singing a medley of World War II-era songs.
In between, the full ensemble will return to character to sing Palestrina’s “Sicut Cervus,” Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum,” Rutter’s arrangement of “Barbara Allen,” accompanied by a string quartet, and Bach’s Motet II, which Kvam called “an uplifting, double chorus piece, a wonderful, wonderful work.” Also on the program is Ronald Staheli’s arrangement of “How Can I Keep from Singing.”
Kvam answered that question when he founded Choral Arts Ensemble in 1985.
“This is real choir country,” he said. “Many people in this part of the country have had good choral training and experience and want to keep singing.”
Rochester, of course, has grown tremendously in the past three decades, providing Kvam with a larger pool of potential singers and audience members.
The growth has also led to greater diversity, which Kvam said he hopes to reflect in future concerts. “I don’t know where this goes in the next 30 years,” he said. “How can we make this art form vibrant and relevant and inclusive?”
In other words, Kvam isn’t about the lead the Chorale Arts Ensemble in the same old songs.
“There are a lot of choral pieces,” he said. “We could schedule another 30 years of repertoire.”