New York City Skyline (graphic)

(For the most recent blog posts, see “Posts” on right hand menu)

Choirs, Alumni Soloists to Sing in Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Three Oregon State University choirs will give a concert at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, May 12. The OSU Chamber Choir, directed by Steven Zielke; Bella Voce, directed by Tina Bull; and the OSU Meistersingers, directed by Russell Christensen, will participate in the performance, which takes place at 5 p.m. in Alice Tully Hall.

OSU Choirs New York Tour PosterIn the first half, the three choirs will together perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ epic work, “Dona Nobis Pacem” with orchestra accompaniment and featuring two OSU alumni soloists: Mari Stoner, soprano, a 2011 graduate in vocal performance; and Nickoli Strommer, baritone, a 2010 graduate in vocal performance. Stoner, a native of Corvallis, Ore., is currently a second year master’s degree student studying opera performance in the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin. Strommer, a native of Baker City, Ore., recently completed the Master of Music degree at the Manhattan School of Music and is currently studying at Boston University’s Opera Institute.

Written in 1936, as he observed Germany preparing for war, Vaughan William’s “Dona Nobis Pacem” features the Civil War poetry of Walt Whitman and is uniquely both American and English, with the quintessential 20th century English composer setting the words of one of America’s most beloved poets. This performance will feature a groundbreaking and innovative multi-media creation of Oregon State music technology professor, Kevin Patton, providing the audience with an unforgettable experience of sight and sound.

In the second half of the concert, the choirs will each perform individually. There will also be a special guest performance by OSU alumnus Roosevelt Credit, baritone. Credit holds a Bachelor of Science in music education from Oregon State University, a Master of Music in voice and opera performance and a Master of Music in conducting from Northwestern University. He has appeared in on Broadway in the Tony Award winning productions of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” and Harold Prince’s revival of “Show Boat,” and has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center.

Following the performance, the Oregon State University Alumni Association is hosting a reception in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center that will feature guest performances in addition to food and beverages. The Alumni Association is also offering lodging and flight packages. For information, go to Oregon State University Alumni Association.

In addition to performing at the Lincoln Center, the choirs will give a free public concert on Friday, May 10, at 8 p.m. at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 405 W. 59th Street. The singers will have Saturday free to take in the sights of the Big Apple.

The tour, part of  the National Festival of the States, is being coordinated by the School of Arts & Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Music Celebrations International.

For additional information on the tour and concerts, go to: Music Celebrations International: Oregon State University Tour .

Immediately following the concert on Sunday, the singers were fed dinner in the ballroom of our hotel, and then many of them celebrated and “took a bite out of” The Big Apple on Saturday night. Choral directors, accompanists, grad students, and soloists attended a reception hosted by the Alumni Association, then continued the celebration afterwards. It was a late night for many.

CLA Dean Larry Rodgers, Steven Zielke, Nicola Zielke, Nickoli Strommer, Julie Schwartz
CLA Dean Larry Rodgers, Steven Zielke, Nicola Zielke, Nickoli Strommer, Julie Schwartz

Monday was a cool, sunny, pleasant day, and because our buses to the airport didn’t leave until 3 p.m., there was plenty of time to sleep in and/or take in a few final sites, pick up souvenirs or gifts, or to just have some down time to relax and recover from several full days and late nights.

Quite a few of the singers went out for breakfast at one of the several classic New York diners near our hotel in midtown Manhattan. Beth and Mari shopped the Metropolitan Opera and Juilliard Gift Shops. Erin, Bryce and Josh covered much of Central Park on foot,brice-josh visited the Guggenheim Gift Shop, had a yummy lunch from a food cart and took a taxi ride back to meet the buses. Several singers took in Rockefeller Plaza. Many students shopped for last minute gifts and souvenirs.

Today

Photo of actor Bradley Cooper taken by Angela Neil at the Today Show
Photo of actor Bradley Cooper taken by Angela Neil at the Today Show

One energetic group of singers that included Geoff, Angela, Shea and Hannah, got up very early in the morning to see if they could get on NBC’s Today Show, where they represented OSU on national television, met the hosts, and got to see the actor Bradley Cooper!

Late Sunday afternoon, it was time to board the buses and to say goodbye to the city.leaving-lobby1 Thankfully, everyone made it on the bus. The security line at the airport was extremely long and slow, even zigzagging down an escalator to a lower level, but the weary travelers remained patient (or were just too tired to complain much) and got through it. Everyone boarded the plane.

Several students were administered midterm tests in flight, proctored by Tina Bull (an agreement made with their instructors since the students were missing tests for the tour.) Many students slept. Or rehashed the trip.

Soon they will be back at Benton Hall and before they know it the term will be ending.

Thank you choirs, for working so hard, for sharing your talent, for being such excellent ambassadors for Oregon State University.

Go Beavs.

program

Concert photos by R. Poppino

posterTickets are offered for free to the public for many of the performances such as the Oregon State University Choirs’ concert at the Lincoln Center. Seating in the theater is reserved and tickets were available online in advance, through Music Celebrations International (MCI) and also via the Lincoln Center website. The Box Office was also open all day Sunday and was quite busy. Tourists and others in the city will pick up free tickets to whatever performance is going on, just to hear a concert at the fabulous Lincoln Center. By mid-afternoon we had reports from MCI that tickets were going so well, and so quickly, they were going to make the balcony and upstairs box seating available for the concert. Of course, not everyone who picks up a free ticket ends up using it, so while we thought we were going to have a full house, that was not the case. Nevertheless, the crowd proved to be substantial, enthusiastic, and was probably comprised of New Yorkers as well as people from all over the world, who were there because they enjoy and appreciate the performing arts. There were also some choir parents, OSU alumni, representatives of the University, the OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association. The OSU entourage included Larry Rodgers, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Executive Director of the Division of Arts and Sciences; Marion Rossi, Director of the School of Arts and Communication; Lacey LaRue of the OSU Foundation and Julie Schwartz of the OSU Alumni Association, as well as others.

Nick
Nickoli Strommer, soloist

Lincoln Center is run like clockwork, and the concert began on exactly time. The first half of the concert was Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Dona Nobis Pacem,” with orchestra, all three choirs, baritone Nickoli Strommer and soprano Mari Stoner, conducted by Steven Zielke. Projections were designed by Kevin Patton, his wife Carmen and a team of professionals in New York. In the second half of the concert, each choir performed  a short program individually, but the range of repertoire was broad and interesting, from the Meistersingers’ beautiful  “Lux Arumque” to Bella Voce’s colorful “Wedding Qawaali,”

Bella Voce
Wedding Qawaali, Bella Voce

with scarves and dancers, to the Chamber Choir’s unique “Epitaph for Moonlight” with 3-D visuals, to Roosevelt and the Chamber Choir’s joyful and uplifting “Over my Head/I Hear Music in the Air.”

What a concert it was!  The theater is beautiful, acoustically perfect – designed specifically for this type of performance. The orchestra was a top notch professional orchestra. Our OSU conductors are experienced and so talented.  Mari and Nickoli are also highly experienced and well on their way to professional singing careers.

Roosevelt Credit with the Chamber Choir
Roosevelt Credit with the Chamber Choir

Roosevelt is an experienced soloist and Broadway performer. Kevin Patton and his team of artistic professionals had produced stellar visuals to accompany the Dona Nobis and several other pieces, using state of the art equipment and a huge, on-stage screen. projectionAnd the OSU choirs. Wow! This large, wonderful group of dedicated and talented students who have put in so much time, sweat, and voice – in and outside of choir rehearsals – to learn and perfect all the pieces. They did not disappoint. That was apparent by the enthusiastic standing ovation, the broad smiles seen, and the conversations heard among the audience after the performance. It was also noted in the praise from unsolicited emails received by Steven Zielke and by Music Celebrations International:

“Hi Steven and all of the Conductors, Singers, Musicians…..What a total JOY hearing your performances at Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on Sunday. Brilliant! And the variety in programming was just wonderful. Add to all of the high musical quality the visual additions and it all added up to one of the most satisfying concerts of the New York season. We are both musicians (CCM Piano, and NYU Performance Studies) with Broadway, national tour and lots of regional credits. Bravi to all…..hope to hear more of your work in the future. Thanks and congratulations!
Jay and John”

“Very interesting, high quality, and enjoyable performance. With the exception of Roosevelt Credit, who three years ago performed with a community orchestra in which I play (what a thrill it was to rehearse and perform with him), I was unfamiliar with Oregon State University’s music program. Glad my eyes and ears were opened. Again, thank you.”

“Hi Dan, I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations again! You worked SO hard to make this a very successful day for Oregon State. Thank you so much for including us in your plans. All the instrumentalists had a wonderful time, were very impressed with the students and with Steve. Please convey my thanks to him as well. It was a memorable afternoon and we were so happy to be a part of it.All the best and thank you, Sato”

“Very impressive ensembles.  All were enjoyable and well prepared.  The men’s ensemble and the chamber choir were especially finely tuned.  It was a delightful evening of fine singing and artistry.Thanks for your efforts to coordinate audience with ensemble! All the best, Joshua”

“Thanks Daniel… We went to the concert this afternoon.. If you get the chance to pass this along.. Please tell the choir that we thoroughly enjoyed it. The Vaughan Williams was very moving..  Beautifully sung. The soprano was superb. We also loved the second half. What a disciplined, joyous and heart-felt performance. I had tears. And I felt that the future of choral music is in good hands. Thanks again. Susan Mahoney, Joe Fiorito, Toronto,  Canada”

Wedding Qawaali 2Congratulations to all. You have worked hard. You have made memories, stretched yourselves, gotten out of your comfort zone, traveled, and grown. You “have had singing.” Hopefully you have had fun and learned a lot along the way.

Sign Board
OSU sign board at the Lincoln Center

On Sunday morning, singers checked in at Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center where they were pretty much stationed for the entire day. For those who are not familiar with the Lincoln Center, it is a beautiful campus of performance halls that is at the heart of the performing arts scene in New York and it is also home to the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera and next to The Juilliard School.

opt-cc-tully-rehearseEach choir had its own call time for morning rehearsal on the stage of the theater at Alice Tully Hall. Students entered through a stage door and had to check in with a security guard, who had a list of all our singers’ names as well as the conductors and anyone else in our entourage who needed to be backstage. Nick Dressing RoomBackstage, there were beautiful dressing rooms for each choir director, each alumni soloist: Mari Stoner, Nickoli Strommer, and Roosevelt Credit, and a larger one for the choirs.opt-dressing The dressing rooms were very nice – each had a private bathroom and shower. There was also a small “green room” with comfortable seating. While individual choirs were rehearsing on the stage, Nicola Zielke and Elizabeth Atchley accompanied the guest soloists on brief warm up/rehearsals in the hall’s practice rooms. opt-girls-dressingopt-cute-girl-dressingSingers had a little bit of down time when their particular choir was not rehearsing on stage, and that time was spent getting food or coffee, watching the other choir rehearsal or lounging in the choir dressing opt-backstageroom or backstage hallways.

After lunch, the choirs had a rehearsal of the Dona Nobis Pacem for the first time with the full orchestra and soloists, followed by a full run-through with lights and the video presentation. The orchestra was top notch. It was comprised of professional musicians-for-hire in New York – many who do this type of gig in addition to regular positions with fine orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic. They were impressive.optimized-rehearsal-sunday

Following the full run-through there was little time to do anything else except opt-choir-roo-rehearseperhaps get a snack and dress for the performance. It was pretty close to concert time.

 

 

 

 

opt-full-rehearse-horizon

 

John Lennon Memorial
John Lennon Memorial
grant
Grant Choitz at Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center

Singers had all of Saturday free to explore the city and small groups broke off to do a variety of different things. Most tried to pack as much into the day and evening as possible. Some made a late a night of it, but many students chose to get back to the hotel relatively early in order to get a good night’s sleep before the big concert day on Sunday.

First Subway Ride
First Subway Ride

Many great stories came out of the day, but a common one was in regards to the weather. It has generally been sunny and humid in New York while we’ve been here but mid-afternoon on Saturday a storm blew in very quickly, and some students with smart phones even reported that they had received a Flash Flood Warning on their phones. The sky got dark, the wind picked up, in some places it hailed, and then there was a torrential downpour. It was heavy, heavy rain that caught many students who were out and about by surprise. By early evening it had blown over and the sky was back to partly sunny. But Saturday night there was lots of sharing about “Where were you when the storm hit?”

Central Park
Central Park

nintendo-storeSome of the activities various singers took on included more visits to Central Park, including visiting the “Imagine” John Lennon Memorial; seeing Wall Street, Times Square, the 911 Memorial, taking the Staten Island Ferry, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, finding famous cheesecake, bus tours, visiting various areas of the city such as The Village, Little Italy, Soho, Tribeca, the West Village; riding the subway and taking in a show on Broadway. We heard good reports from those who went to Tony’s Restaurant and the jazz club, Birdland.

Birdland
Monty Alexander and the Harlem Kingston Express at Birdland

Statue Cruise“Got to see the Statue of Liberty upclose on a statue cruise this morning! First time for all three of us! Loved it!” – Kelsey, Alexander, Katie Planner and Hannah Howie.

Friday night Russ, Kevin, and Alex Fine enjoyed Birdland. After hearing good reports from that group, Geoff, Angela and Jenna went on Saturday night. James Franklin went both nights and reported that jazz pianist Monty Alexander played different sets and he really enjoyed both!

DSC_0124
911 Memorial

 

Bella VoceIt is difficult to publicize a concert by a visiting university choir in New York. We know that the Lincoln Center concert will have a nice audience because it benefits from local Lincoln Center subscribers and arts-patrons as well as tourists who just want to attend a concert in the Lincoln Center. There are a number of parents, friends and alumni of Oregon State in the area, but we really didn’t know what to expect in terms of an audience for the church concert and we were pleasantly surprised. There was a nice, appreciative crowd at the church and the concert went beautifully!

The two concerts are going to sound completely different. The church has that amazing echo, where the sound continues on long after the singers stop. It’s interesting, especially on pieces such as the Meistersingers’ “Lux Aurumque” and the Chamber Choir’s “Epitaph for Moonlight.” The acoustics at Alice Tully Hall will be completely different. Daniel and Cutler, the representatives we work with from Music Celebrations International say Alice Tully Hall has some of the best acoustics of any hall they work with. Both concerts will be unique and exciting. Unlike the Alice Tully concert, the church concert was a little less formal. The choirs sat in the audience after they performed, so it offered a nice opportunity for the choirs to sing for each other.The Bow Pic

Meistersingers: Daniel Fridley, assistand conductor

Bella Voce: Tina Bull, conductor

Chamber Choir: Steven Zielke, conductor

Daniel Schwartz, of Music Celebrations International, the tour company we are working with on this tour, forwarded this email he received after the concert:

Hello,

I watched the concert last night at St. Paul’s church and it was marvelous.  I spread the wonderful news to my friends and they would like to attend the event at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center on Sunday at 5:00pm.  I submitted a request for 2 tickets under the name of Eunice Chen and would like to know if the request went through.

Thank you very much for the beautiful music you are sharing with us. 

Best,

Belinda Gonzalez

 

joey-at-central-park
Joey at Central Park

Following rehearsals today, singers had plenty of time to further explore the city on their own prior to the 8 p.m. concert. Central Park was a popular destination. One group of students even got in on the filming of a new reality show!

From Chamber Choir member Melissa Simpson:

“I walked around today with Angela Neil, Mariah Derry, Alicia Baker, Alexander Fine, Josh Miller, Jacob Tabor, Geoff Bishop and Fan Wu. After rehearsal we walked from the hotel to Central Park and were in awe of the beautiful trees and lawns, with the skyscrapers peeking up from behind the trees. The atmosphere (weather and trees and the people relaxing on the lawns) reminded us slightly of being on campus in Corvallis. In the park, we relaxed at the fountain, walked across a bridge to a castle, and then made our way to the

At the Met Museum
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art. When we were on the bridge, ABC News was there, hiding in the bushes, filming a new reality show called “Would you fall for that? A few guys dressed in authoritative looking uniforms split the bridge with a rope. At the end of the bridge, they were holding a sign saying “Singles: right. Marrieds:left.” The point was to see if people would blindly submit to the authority. Before we saw the cameras, we asked why they were splitting the bridge. After we left the bridge, we were approached by folks from ABC. They told us what they were doing and asked us if we would sign waivers so they could use the footage of us in the reality show.

Andrew
“Hatz” poses with Balto at Central Park. Photo by Cole H-V
Carnegie Cafe
Lunch at Carnegie Deli

We walked back down 5th Avenue, quickly went inside Trump Tower, and now we are at dinner at Carnegie Deli. We have way too much food but it is really delicious!”

There are more fun photos and stories from today, along with some from the wonderful St. Paul concert that I will publish tomorrow.

Tomorrow (Saturday)  is a day off from singing, so there will be lots more stories to tell and photos to share. Stay tuned.

Chamber ChoirThe morning began with (for many) a quick trip to Starbucks on the way to individual choir rehearsals at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. The church is located on the corner of Columbus Avenue and 60th St., very close to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Chamber Choir rehearsed first, followed by Bella Voce and then the Meistersingers. This was a chance to come together, after a long day of travel yesterday and a fun evening of exploring the city and focus on the real reason we are here. The choirs worked on acoustics, balance of sound, entrances and exits. The graduate teaching assistants had the opportunity to conduct their pieces in the space for the first time. The Chamber Choir rehearsed with guest soloist Roosevelt Credit.Meistersingers Rehearsal Bella Voce

The interior of the church is absolutely beautiful and was a pleasant surprise, reminding many of us of the beautiful neighborhood churches you would see in Europe.

 

 

 

 

History of the Church

On January 4, 1876 the cornerstone for the Church of St. Paul the Apostle was laid, and so began the construction of the Mother Church of the Paulist Fathers.

The church was the fulfillment of the ideals and hopes of Father Hecker, who dreamed of building a noble basilica that would combine the artistic ideals of the past, with the American genius of his day. After visiting and studying noted European churches, he communicated his ideas to the architect Jeremiah O’Rourke who drew up the plans for the present building. Father George Deshon, one of the original Paulists, and a West Point engineer, later took over as architect-in-charge and brought the church to completion in January 1885.

Inspired by the 4th & 5th century early Christian basilicas in Ravenna, Italy, the church is 284 feet long, 121 feet wide, and 114 feet to the highest point of the towers, which are 38 feet square. The grand exterior of the church reflects 13 th century Old Gothic. To decorate and beautify the interior of St. Paul’s, Father Hecker engaged the eminent American artists John LaFarge, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Lumen Winter, Stanford White, and later, William Laurel Harris. Their combined majestic artwork can be seen throughout the church in its beautiful stained glass windows, murals, and sculptures.

The church also contains a world-class organ. This fine instrument, replacing an earlier Skinner organ, was constructed in 1965 by the M.P. Moller Company, and restored by the Peragallo Pipe Organ Company in 2000. It has 4 manuals, 82 ranks, 78 stops, and 4965 pipes. The Moller organ has attracted many famous organists eager to play this fine instrument.

NY skyline

DSCN3493
Location of Friday evening concert, St. Paul the Apostle Church.

The excitement on the buses really started to build as soon as we could see the New York City Skyline!

Checking 200 people into a hotel takes some time, but once room keys were handed out and luggage was sorted, the singers were free to go out to dinner and/or do some sight seeing. The temperature was mild and there are many restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, so small groups headed out. Decisions, decisions! Food selections varied from food cart lamb kabobs, to Thai food, to New York Pizza, to Little Italy Italian, to a trendy Mexican outdoor cafe. Some singers went exploring the area and found the church, St. Paul the Apostle, where they will be singing tomorrow, and Lincoln Center, where they will be singing on Sunday. Singers were warned not to stay up too late, as the call times are early. Chamber Choir is first to rehearse tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. (which will feel like 6 a.m.!)St. Paul the Apostle Church

Meisters-airport Today was travel day and there was good news and bad news, but overall things went pretty well. The good news is that all of the singers who were taking the 2:00 a.m. bus from Benton to PDX made it! The other good news is that the Bella Voce group left on time and made great flying time and everything went very smoothly. The bad news is that the Chamber Choir/Meistersingers flight was delayed, and as it was a non-stop there were some very hungry singers by the time they reached the hotel. They also

ashlee-jennagot stuck in a bit of a traffic jam getting into the city from the airport. So actually, both groups ended up arriving at the hotel at about the same time, but everyone seemed pretty happy and excited to be here. So the best news is that all arrived safely.  The adventure begins!

 

 

bellas-on-plane

A little video featuring Josh, Cole HV, Cole W, Tiffany and Bryce

The excitement for the New York trip builds after the choirs perform two Orange & Black Scholarship Concerts in April. Rehearsals for the NY concerts then began in earnest.

“Russ and I have choirs that only meet 150 minutes per week and the challenge was rehearsing all of our own music plus finding a way to memorize Dona Nobis–long and hard. So, officially our choirs put in probably 12 extra hours, but I”m sure it was more than that when you consider how much time they spent working on their own to memorize the music.”  Tina Bull

choir rehearsal for NY
Steven Zielke, choral studies director and conductor of the OSU Chamber Choir, works with singers at a recent evening rehearsal of Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Dona Nobis Pacem.” Nicola Nine-Zielke, voice instructor and assistant Chamber Choir director, accompanies.