BY MICHAELA MARX WHEATLEY
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
The power of voice can elate the soul and bring one to tears in the short distance of a few musical notes.
The Whidbey Chamber Singers – a new choral group inspired by its collection of voices – is tuning this most powerful instrument to reach audiences during its 2012/13 inaugural season, which opens in December.
“The human voice raised in song can reach and touch the soul of the listeners,” said Sheila Weidendorf, chairperson of the singers’ steering committee and an accomplished pianist.
With this in mind, the choral group has selected an ambitious range of works, from Vivaldi to contemporary, to make this point to audiences.
The first concert will be Dec. 16 at the Langley United Methodist Church sanctuary with “Laud to the Nativity,” featuring a variety of Christmas pieces, including the 25-minute choral work of the same name by Ottorino Respighi.
“Quite a juicy piece,” Weidendorf said.
In the spring they will adapt Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” among other works, and will cap off the season with “What a Wonderful World,” which will feature a selection of contemporary works.
“Our range is wide and we are on an outward and upward trajectory,” Weidendorf said in summary of the group’s ambitions.
The Whidbey Chamber Singers is a select choral ensemble under the leadership of artistic director Rob Prosch.
Since 2009, the Chamber Singers have developed and presented diverse musical programs under the umbrella of Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.
Earlier this summer, the choir re-organized as a self-governing nonprofit arts group sponsored by the Whidbey Island Arts Council.
“After three seasons associated with Whidbey Island Center for the Arts as part of its arts education program, the Whidbey Chamber Singers are ready to launch its first season as a prominent, Whidbey Island, independent, choral performance group,” Prosch said.
“This is really just an evolutionary process,” Weidendorf added. “It’s intended to grow into a semi-professional performance group.”
The group describes itself as a mixed-voice choral ensemble – currently about 20 voices strong- with a focus on bringing a rich variety of choral works from classical to modern to Whidbey audiences. But it is also a place for singers to hone their skills and grow as vocalists, Weidendorf said.
“There are many choirs on the island. Whidbey Island is this hotbed of music and the arts, and it is quite astonishing how many opportunities we have as artists,” Weidendorf said.
Yet, the Whidbey Chamber Singers have set the bar high. As the group develops its repertoire and voices, it also hopes to grow the choir over time and attempt to master larger choral works, Weidendorf said.
“A few choral works that we would love to do have a few more voices,” Weidendorf said. “There are some amazing choir works.”
The artistic director is eager to share those with Whidbey audiences.
“I look forward to the creation of our art form and the performances ahead, and I whole-heartedly invite our Whidbey Island friends to our performances – truly something not to be missed,” Prosch said.
The Whidbey Chamber Singers will hold four major events in its inaugural season:
- A classical concert initially planned for October and featuring professional musicians to benefit the Chamber Singers has been postponed to January.
- Dec. 16, 2012, “Laud to the Nativity” featuring the Chamber Singers and soloists
- March 16, 2013, spring concert featuring Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and Pergolesi’s “Magnificat”
- May 18, 2013, concert featuring the theme, “What a Wonderful World”
All concerts will be performed in the sanctuary of Langley United Methodist Church unless otherwise noted.
For more information, visit www.whidbeychambersingers.com.