Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
  Vol. 27                                        ONLINE  ONLINE  ONLINE                                   September 2017    
Providing financial support   since 1999 for The Rockbridge Choral Society and The Rockbridge Youth Chorale

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Birthdays in Music

Johann Pachelbel  9/1/1653

Darius Milhaud 9/4/1892
Hank Williams 9/17/1923
Mark Your Calendars

Rockbridge Choral Society Rehearsals Begin


Monday September 11, 7:15, Lexington Presbyterian Church

December 2, 2017 - Holiday Concert,
RCS and Rockbridge
Youth Chorale,
7 PM
Presbyterian Church

January 28, 2018 - Rockbridge Chamber Singers presents
Songs of Love,
3 PM

Presbyterian Church

April 29, 2018 - RCS with
orchestra and soloists,
Mass in B Minor,
J. S. Bach

7 PM,
Wilson Concert Hall, Washington and Lee University

In the Spotlight - Countdown to the Bach B Minor
      Keith Spencer is no stranger to the Rockbridge Choral Society. He has been gracing our performances with his dulcet baritone for many years, and he will be with us again in April, 2018 for Bach's Mass in B Minor. Many of you probably know that Keith was born in West Palm Beach Florida, and raised in a big family of 13 brothers and sisters. He studied music and voice at the University of Miami and the Manhattan School of Music. Currently, he teaches voice at Berk shire Music School, and also gives private voice lessons.
       Bet you didn't know that when Keith began his college musical training, he saw himself as a crooner. Picture Mel Torme or Frank Sinatra. His teachers told him he
Keith Spencer
with his dog Hunter.
had a voice for opera and the classics. True to character, Keith embraced it and ran with it. His extensive singing experience in both genres would confirm that those teachers were right. Keith also loves performing Gershwin and songs from the Great American Songbook, and he has done so both here and abroad.  The Great American Song Book
       Keith loves teaching, and he says he learns much from his students, some thirty in all ranging in age from 14 to 85. He has come to feel that teaching is as much a calling as singing. He concentrates on helping his students to 're-tool' their instrument. "Use the body to sing, not just the throat. It is rarely the throat that lets the singer down." The culprit is more often the rest of the body - the parts that generate and control the breath, for instance. The singer should experiment with the body parts that create resonance - the palate, the larynx, the shape of the face and mouth, the rib cage and its muscles. "Change something and see what happens."
     And, what does Keith listen to? Brazilian jazz has been a long love for its syncopated rhythms. He says this music is full of surprise.
       When he's not teaching or performing, Keith lives with his dog, Hunter, on a 17 acre farm in New York where they grow beautiful vegetables and watch the wildlife.
One Exceptional Thing -
A New Requiem Mass
      We've all heard or sung a mass for the dead. Those by Mozart, Brahms, Durufle, and Faure come to mind. Not long ago, we stumbled on a new one. You've probably never heard of it. But you will.
       Stephen Edwards, Michigan native and Hollywood film composer, has produced such a work in remembrance of his mother and musical mentor, Rosalie Edwards. Requiem for My Mother is worth a listen. A recording, with baritone, Keith Spencer, has been as high as number 3 on the Billboard classical charts. Keith's brother, harpist Mark Spencer, played the harp for the Carnegie Hall premiere under the direction of his classmate, Candace Wicke, the conductor who brought the work to fruition. They needed a new baritone for the European debut and the soundtrack for a documentary, and Mark knew to whom that voice belonged. A short film chronicles the genesis of the work, the making of the recording, and its live performance. You don't have to be a choral singer to be moved by this work. If you only have 2 minutes to spare, watch here.
          The recording is available on CD. The documentary aired nationwide on PBS in May, 2014. Watch here  and check out those children's choirs and our own Keith Spencer!
One Fun Thing
     Approximately 1 in 10,000 people have absolute or perfect pitch, and Chinese speakers are 9 times more likely to have perfect pitch. The reason is not heritage; it is hearing, modeling, and learning to speak tonal languages, that is languages which use changes in tone to convey different meanings. Sixty percent of children who spoke one of these tonal languages (Mandarin or Vietnamese) and who began some type of musical training between the ages of 4 and 5 had perfect pitch. Only 14% of non-tone speaking children had perfect pitch at that age. Perfect pitch test.
Friends of the Rockbridge Choral Society
Rockbridge Choral Society
PO Box 965
Lexington, VA 24450