2008, May

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Vienna Celebrates HaydnVienna Celebrates Haydn
Vienna is amongst the top performance destinations for amateur music groups and choirs from all over the world. Nowhere else have so many famous musicians and composers lived and worked. Johann Strauss, the “Waltz King”, and Franz Schubert, the “Prince of Lieder”, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg and Mahler were all inspired by the flair of the Austrian capital.

It was in the Danube metropolis that Mozart developed his distinctive, universally popular style of opera, and it was from Vienna that the waltz began its triumphant conquest of the globe. Not least thanks to the Wiener Philhamoniker, whose New Year’s concert in the golden hall of the Musikverein is broadcast throughout the world, delighting hundreds of thousands of people every year. Viennese operetta is a byword for exciting entertainment from Texas to Tokyo, and Viennese DJs are in international demand.

In 2009, the music world around the globe will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Haydn started his career as a member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir in Vienna, the city to which he also returned after working for the Princes Esterházy in today’s Burgenland and Hungary. Here in Vienna, he enjoyed his world renown for nineteen years.

Authentic sights and the master’s music on the highest level are guaranteed for the anniversary year 2009. Please see “events” at www.vienna.info, or http://en.haydn2009.net for more information.

Choral groups can participate in “Voices of the World”- a series of open-air performances from April to September (daily 9 – 17, max. 45 minutes) held at Schönbrunn Palace. Performance venues are the grand staircases in front and behind the palace and in the gardens in front of the Neptune Fountain.

This performance venue is available for choirs and vocal groups up to a group size of 100 persons, and for orchestras and instrumental groups up to 50 persons. Performances are free of charge. The given infrastructure as well as organizer’s services (welcome, commemorative certificate, group photo) is at the groups’ disposal free of charge. Charges apply for additional services (rental of chairs or electric piano) and will have to be borne by the respective group.

Groups have to overnight in Vienna in order to be admitted to perform. Contacts with incoming agencies and hotels will be gladly established. This offer is not valid for organizers of festivals and music group competitions who need a specific structure for their performances or who require more than two performances a day at Schönbrunn. Such groups are requested to make special enquiries.

Information brochures and application forms may be ordered directly with: MTS- Marketing Tourismus Synergie GesmbH, Schloss Schönbrunn, Gardetrakt 1, 1130 Vienna, Austria. Phone: (+43 1) 817 41 65-0. Fax: (+43 1) 817 41 65 15. E-mail: mts-wien@mts.co.at

Online application at: www.voices-of-the-world.at

For further information on Vienna, contact: Vienna Tourist Board, Obere Augartenstrasse 401025 Vienna, Austria or e-mail: info@vienna.info.

Michael Cundari

Michael Cundari
Director of Choral Activities
Nutley High School
Nutley, NJ

Esther Liu Harris

Esther Liu Harris
Choral Director
The Packer Collegiate Institute
New York City, NY

Reflections on Vienna
Two choral directors who recently brought their groups to Vienna chime in on why the Austrian capital makes for an ideal performance destination

Choral Director: What was the appeal of Austria as a destination?
Michael Cundari: “Austria has so much to offer educationally, culturally, and musically, for me it was the logical next step for a musical destination for my ensembles. Looking back, I must say the tour surpassed my wildest expectations. As a musician it is wonderful to have the opportunity to perform and tour places that are truly life-changing. To be able to bring the students to Salzburg and sing a concert looking out on Mozart’s birthplace just brings it all home to them, I think it is the final step in just ‘getting it.’

Esther Harris: Vienna represents music, especially classical music. It’s a very exciting place to hear and to see music everywhere – on the street, in churches, and in concerts.

CD: How difficult was the process of arranging the journey?
MC: Arranging our tour was surprisingly easy, especially because we worked with a tour company. Of course I knew the basic areas and venues I would like to see, but working with Encore Tours was beyond helpful.

EH: It was a pleasant to arrange the tour with Music-Contact International. The staff was very helpful, patient, and professional to work with while planning the trip for my school.

CD: Can you talk briefly about foreign vs. domestic travel, as it pertains to student groups?
MC: I have been the director of Choral Activities (grades 7-12) in Nutley for nine years. During this time our program has grown from just 50 or so, to over 500 students in seven different ensembles, needless to say travel is a big part of program. Both foreign and domestic travel have many things to offer, of course price is a factor so we alternate and try to capitalize on musical experiences at home as well as abroad.

EH: We are hosting the Prague Choir at our school in New York, in February 2009. We will start planning another international tour in September 2009. The tour will be happening in March 2010 and there are a few countries that we are considering.

CD: How often do your groups embark on large trips?
MC: I try to take my High School ensembles on a large trip every three years or so, on the off years we focus on performing major works and attending local festivals/competitions.

EH: We travel every other year.

CD: What do you feel are the benefits of such trips for a school’s choral program? What are the benefits for the students, themselves?
MC: The benefits of these trips are numerous and rather far-reaching for the students, their families, our school, and the community. The first thing that comes to mind is the musical experience for the students, whether singing at a local festival or the cathedrals of Europe, they all become better musicians and people because of these experiences. I also think it is really important for students to get out and see other places, whether here in the U.S. or abroad. Those experiences are necessary to learning and music is a great catalyst for that. Finally, obviously students like to travel, but I see traveling not as a tool to “entice” students to our program but as a culmination of their hard work. I make it clear that we are not singing together to go places, but our singing together takes us there, when we are working hard and doing our best is when the best performance opportunities seem to arise.

EH: Tours bring a higher standard to the students’ understanding of choral music, they reach higher goals in performance skills, and confirm their musicianship skills through performing in a different setting.

When we sing and meet other choirs from a different culture, we share the same spirit through music. We make friends and develop relationships that may last for a lifetime. We inspire each other to achieve a deeper love and higher expectations in our music-making.

CD: Any other final thoughts on your trip to Vienna that you’d like to share?
MC: I would have to say that beyond the great venues and musical experiences the one thing that I still hear from my students and parents who came along is how wonderful the people were that we met along the way on this tour. Not just the tour guides and people who were paid to be with us, but the encounters we had every day in Austria, whether a shop in Salzburg, on the streets of Vienna, or in a school in Graz, the people of Austria were so welcoming, excited to see meet and hear us, and have become our friends. I have done a lot of traveling with and without my students and there is something very special about the people of Austria that none of us will ever forget. If you are on the fence regarding an Austrian tour, do yourself and your students a favor, and go!

Robert White Named Juilliard’s “2008 Schuman Scholars Chair”
Juilliard faculty member, tenor Robert White, has been awarded Juilliard’s 2008 William Schuman Scholars Chair, which is presented annually to an artist and educator who has made significant contributions both to the intellectual and artistic life of the Juilliard community. Established in 1998, previous recipients have included Milton Babbitt, Paul Jacobs, the Juilliard String Quartet, Jerome Lowenthal, Lionel Party, and Fred Sherry. Mr. White has performed and recorded a repertoire that ranges from medieval to contemporary music and has championed works by many important American composers. He has had the unique distinction of having sung for six U.S. Presidents – Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. He sang for Britain’s Queen Mother and Prince Charles, Monaco’s Royal Family, and Pope John Paul II. He has been a distinguished member of Juilliard’s faculty in the Vocal Arts Department since 1992.

For more information, please visit www.juilliard.edu.

Belmont Univ. Songwriting Major Scholarship
Belmont University has announced that Lee Zapis, president of Zapis Capital Group, and his wife Ageleke will offer the first fully funded endowed scholarship in the new Songwriting Major being offered through the Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. The couple’s $25,000 gift will be used to establish an endowed fund to be known as the “Leon and Ageleke Zapis Songwriters Scholarship.” Scholarship recipients will be determined annually based on a review process by the Curb College in consultation with Belmont Student Financial Services.

Last fall Belmont became one of the first accredited universities in the nation to offer a major in songwriting with 50 student songwriters filling the first two introductory courses to capacity. Songwriting veterans Thom Schuyler and Bob Regan have joined the Curb College faculty as adjunct instructors to teach Introduction to Songwriting, the first course offered in the new major.

For more information, please visit www.belmont.edu.

CHW’s Men of Note “Three-peat”
Cherry Hill High School’s West Men of Note have been named the 2008 Best of High School A Cappella National Champions. The ensemble traveled to the National Finals in New York City held at the Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center on April 19th to compete against the other Semi Finalists from Colo., Fla., and Ill. and to perform with 6 other college a cappella groups competing for the College title. This is the third consective National Champion title that Men of Note have received. Men of Note also received:

Other awards presented to the ensemble include: Outstanding Soloist (Dan Faber, Richard Crandle, and Ryan Applegate for “On Stage with the Temptations”); Outstanding Arrangement (David Das for “Can’t Help Falling In Love”); and Outstanding Choreography (Men of Note).

The first place college group, University of Southern California SoCal VoCals was the only other group (high school and college) to receive a higher score than Men of Note. The Men will be recording their third CD this June to commemorate this outstanding achievement. For more information, visit the Men of Note Web site at: varsityvocals.com/icca/results.shtml.

Belmont Univ. Songwriting Major Scholarship
Belmont University has announced that Lee Zapis, president of Zapis Capital Group, and his wife Ageleke will offer the first fully funded endowed scholarship in the new Songwriting Major being offered through the Belmont University’s Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. The couple’s $25,000 gift will be used to establish an endowed fund to be known as the “Leon and Ageleke Zapis Songwriters Scholarship.” Scholarship recipients will be determined annually based on a review process by the Curb College in consultation with Belmont Student Financial Services.

Last fall Belmont became one of the first accredited universities in the nation to offer a major in songwriting with 50 student songwriters filling the first two introductory courses to capacity. Songwriting veterans Thom Schuyler and Bob Regan have joined the Curb College faculty as adjunct instructors to teach Introduction to Songwriting, the first course offered in the new major.

For more information, please visit www.belmont.edu.

NAMM Designates “Wanna Play Music” Week
NAMM has announced that May 5-9, 2008 was officially known as Wanna Play Music Week, a time to recognize the vital role music and music education plays in the lives of all Americans.

Kicking off Wanna Play Music Week on May 5, NAMM lead U.S. musicians, music organizations, and music lovers everywhere to join with the Canadian-based Coalition for Music Education in its fourth annual Music Monday celebration.

On Music Monday, NAMM invited music makers and musicians from American symphony orchestras, rock bands, jazz ensembles, school bands, hip-hop and rap artists, blues and folk artists to perform the same song together on the same day and at the same exact time to demonstrate music’s importance in our lives.

The Music Monday song was “Our Song,” composed by Canadian singer/songwriters Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, DALA. The song (in many arrangements) can be downloaded at www.musicmonday.ca.

Wanna Play Music Week is part of NAMM’s nationwide “Wanna Play?” campaign dedicated to increasing awareness of the proven benefits of playing musical instruments for people of all ages. For more information, interested parties can visit www.wannaplaymusic.com.

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