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The Rockbridge Choral Society
The Rockbridge Youth Chorale

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         August 2015                                                                                                  Vol.2



Rockbridge Chamber Singers, 2015/2016
        This season, the Rockbridge Chamber Singers performance offerings will include a magical work titled  Northern Lights by Norwegian born young composer and pianist, Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo). The text is from Song of Solomon. Commissioned by the Central Bucks High School-West Chamber Choir, Dr. Joseph Ohrt, conductor, the work premiered at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. in January, 2008. Of this composition the composer says, "Northern Lights is my most Norwegian production in years; composed in an attic outside of Oslo, at Christmas time in 2007, it's one of the few works I have written in Norway...The US is my home now, so I guess my work has been increasingly reflecting my love for American music, writing, and scenery. Most of all, this piece and its text is about beauty - about a 'terrible', powerful beauty, although the music is quite serene on the surface... Looking out over a wintry lake under the stars, I was thinking about how this 'terrible' beauty is so profoundly reflected in the northern lights, or aurora borealis. It is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena I've ever witnessed, and has such a powerful, electric quality that must have been both mesmerizing and terrifying to people in the past when no one knew what it was and when much superstition was attached to these experiences."

      Now based in New York, Gjeilo began composing at the tender age of five, mostly listening to an eclectic mix of music in his parents' home. Learning to play piano by relying on his instinctive ability to hear music, he finally learned to read music when he was seven. After high school and classical composition study with Wolfgang Plagge, he studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music, the Juilliard School, and at the Royal College of Music in London where he received a bachelor's degree in composition. He returned to Juilliard for his master's degree in composition and he remains in New York, working as a commissioned composer for such renowned choral groups as the Phoenix Chorale and St. Olaf College, and the Edward Grieg Society. In 2010, he was named the first ever Composer-in-Residence for the Grammy winning Phoenix Chorale. In 2012, the critically acclaimed Phoenix Chorale's CD titled "Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo" was named Best Classical Album of the Year by iTunes and was the top-selling album for Chandos Records in the USA for the year 2012.

        Gjeilo is influenced by a wide range of musical talents including, Ralph Vaughn Williams John Tavener, and Eric Whitacre. In a recent interview for The Music Room blog, Gjeilo spoke to his general philosophy about choral composition.

"Speaking more generally, we've seen some significant new choral composers on the scene more recently, including you, Eric Whitacre and Paul Mealor, for example. So there seems to be a general resurgence in the popularity of choral music. Do you think there are any key factors which have been behind this?"
"That's a good question. Well, more than anything else I think it comes down to the fact that there are so many people in choirs; it's just such a major amateur movement, in addition to professional and school ensembles. So that means there are a lot of people who are interested in listening to choral music. But I think, also, there is a difference with some of the younger composers like Eric, in that they have a connection to younger listeners. Eric, for example, came to choral music having started out as a rock musician. Kind of the same thing with me, in that I came out of improvisation, and doing a lot of more cross-over stuff and being very influenced by film music. So I think a lot of us have a strong connection to today's pop culture and popular music. And I think that's something that perhaps speaks to a lot of people because, ultimately, a majority of people listen to popular music of some kind. So I think a lot of younger composers have really started to tap into that in a natural, organic manner, not in a sort of contrived attempt to be 'hip'; but we grew up with that kind of music and it's a natural part of our style and sphere of reference.  I've always wanted my music to reach as many people as possible and to hopefully touch as many people as possible. I think that for a few decades that didn't really seem to be the goal in a lot of classical music. So that's also part of the reason I think that, for example with the music of Whitacre, so many people connect to it: the actual goal is for people to connect to it deeply, in an uplifting, earnest way, without being superficial or sentimental."
For more of this interview click here 
Music room interview 
For a taste of Northern Lights   Listen here

August - Birthdays and Quotable Quotes in Music
8/25/1918 - Leonard Bernstein - 
Composer, conductor, pianist
"In the olden days, everybody sang. You were expected to sing as well as talk. It was a mark of the cultured man to sing."
8/22/1862 - Claude Debussy - Composer
"Works of art make rules.
 Rules do not make works of art" and
"In opera, there is always too much singing."


Local Music Happenings, August/September 2015

 Staunton Summer 
Music Festival 
 August 14/15 - 8/23/15 8/23/15 3:30 - 6 PM 

Trinity Episcopal Church 
214 W. Beverley St. Staunton 
  18 and under Free

Greenwater Music Festival at Lazy Acres Farm

Starts at 10 AM Lazy Acres Farm, Rt. 39 approx. 1 mile from Virginia Horse Center  Music, camping, local bands,  rain or shine

Music in The Garden 
8/28, 9/11     5:30 PM
Boxerwood Nature Center

963 Ross Road, Lexington, 
 540) 463-2697
Sundays on the Deck
Rockbridge Vineyard
and Winery

8/16, 8/30, 9/13, 9/27
2 - 5 PM

Rockbridge Vineyard and Winery

35 Hill View Lane Raphine, VA

Rockbridge Mountain
 Music and Dance Festival

9/11, 9/12
5 PM

Glen Maury Park
Buena Vista, VA

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!
Well, maybe not so much yet, but in the spirit of starting rehearsals next month (Monday, September 14 at Lexington Presbyterian Church) for the RCS's Christmas concert we thought it would be fun to have the readers of the e-newsletter choose a song to be performed by the chorus(s). Vote for your favorite "Singers Choice" here  Vote here Voting closes 9/14/15. If we don't have an arrangement, our esteemed and multi-talented director will come up with one even if he has to compose one himself! Stay tuned for results.