Vintage Voices Spring 2018

VocalEssence connects senior citizens with the social and mental health benefits of group singing through its Vintage Voices program. VocalEssence Vintage Voices meets seniors on their own turf, providing choral instruction at senior centers and residences. This spring, the program is sponsoring choirs at three different locations: Trillium Woods in Plymouth, Sabathani Senior Center in Minneapolis, and the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.

Singers at each site are learning a variety of music, including several contemporary works by living composers, along with some arrangements of spirituals, folksongs, and classic standards. In late May and early June, each choir will share their artistry in an onsite performance.

The Trillium Woods Chorale is working on challenging new music by contemporary composers, including Minneapolis-based composer Timothy Takach. After months of rehearsals, the singers are less nervous about learning notes and rhythms, and investing more energy into artistic and musical interpretation. One piece is particularly special to the singers—“Turning, Turning” was composed by the choir’s own Dorothy Pryor. The 85-year-old’s new work celebrates the many changes that happen in life, and the importance of making new friends along the way as seasons come and go. Dorothy and her husband Austin, who sings tenor, will perform as featured soloists. The Trillium Woods Chorale will perform at 3 pm on Tuesday, May 8, in the Auditorium at Trillium Woods in Plymouth.

The Sabathani Vintage Voices are hard at work preparing for the premiere of a new work, composed especially for them by Minneapolis-based composer Michael Maiorana. This piece, called “Rain Music,” sets a text by the African American poet Joseph S. Cotter, Jr.. It evokes the imagery of spring rains falling down to the dusty earth, sounding like an ancient drum, giving rise to new life. The Sabathani program will also feature several choral music settings of Langston Hughes poems by composers Andre Thomas and Rollo Dillworth, celebrating the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance. Some of the singers will recite spoken word texts by other important Harlem Renaissance writers and poets. The Sabathani Vintage Voices choir performs at 6 pm on Thursday, May 24, in the Auditorium at Sabathani Community Center, Minneapolis.

This is our first year partnering with Hallie Q. Brown, where our work is supported by a Minnesota State Arts Board grant. The singers in our newly-formed choir are finding inspiration in the centennial celebration of the Harlem Renaissance. They are preparing several arrangements of spirituals and settings of Langston Hughes texts. The choir is coming together with a lot of enthusiasm, and we look forward to fostering a continued relationship with the seniors at this site. The Hallie Q. Brown choir will perform at 4 pm on Monday, June 11, in the Canteen at the Hallie. Q. Brown Community Center, St. Paul.