Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra: family, fun, and the future of music

This afternoon was a busy one in the area's Classical music scene with a variety of concerts in Lincoln and Omaha from orchestras and flute choirs to pianists and operas. One crowded event was Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra's "Three Little Pigs" Family Concert. What a sight to see as families with children of all ages, from babies on up, crowded into Wesleyan's O'Donnell Auditorium for the afternoon's entertainment.

LSO is doing a tremendous service to the community by holding these family concerts: encouraging children to come, listen, and experience orchestral music while also keeping it short, entertaining, and engaging. Maestro Edward Polochick, although forced to remain seated throughout the concert due to a broken foot, was warm and welcoming to the children as actor Tim Marrone came along in the character of Mother Goose, then Mr. Pig, and finally, the Big Bad Wolf.

Not only is clapping and noise allowed and encouraged (as laughter or boos resounded throughout the auditorium depending on the antics and character of Marrone), but children also had the opportunity beforehand to play various instruments, have their faces painted, do crafts, then color on their programs and help conduct on stage. Although some of the music is lost behind the laughter, it is heard, and the next time children hear Beethoven's 5th or the music of Ravel, they'll have a happy memory associated with it and want to learn more!

A wonderful way to inspire a love of orchestra and perhaps the next generation of musicians!

Friday, November 11, 2016

UNL Opera's 'Little Women:' brilliant and emotional

Tonight, the audience seated in Kimball Recital Hall laughed, cried, and grew up with Jo March. The Glenn Korff School of Music put on Mark Adamo's Little Women opera--a brilliant opera written in 1998, featuring the some of the best that modern music can be, beautifully performed.
Tickets for Sunday's performance
can be purchased here.

The story of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott should be familiar to many, but the opera, while staying true to the story, brings out the themes of Jo's struggles and her loves.

In the first half, the audience laughed and rejoiced as the sisters played together, Meg was wooed by her "knight," and Jo wrote her "potboiler."

The music thrilled and made the emotions strike the hearts of everyone in the audience as the telegram arrived for Jo telling her that Beth was ill...and at the death scene, the instruments dropped out and the singing carried on--beautiful, but a little lonely, as Jo was feeling.

The themes presented of family, love, change, and, eventually, growth were perfectly brought together in the music, libretto, staging, set, costumes, and performance by the talented students at UNL.

With one more performance remaining on Sunday, Nov. 13th at 3:00pm, this is a chance that can't be missed--you will be able to relate to it on some level. Who has not longed for things to stay the same, but found that change comes upon them? Who has not had to learn that "now is all we have."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lincoln's Flute Choir: Discover the variety of flutes

In 2013, a trio of flute playing friends decided to form a Lincoln flute choir, now known as Coro di Flauti. Perhaps you’ve never seen a flute besides the flute and piccolo: so how is it that there can be 17 members in the group and upcoming concert?

Coro di Flauti will perform
3:00pm, on Sun, Nov. 13th, 2016
Holy Savior Lutheran Church
Coro di Flauti will perform on Sunday, November 13th at 3:00pm at Holy Savior Lutheran Church. If you attend, you will discover and delight in the sounds of Lincoln’s flute choir consisting of “piccolo, which sounds an octave above the standard flute, C flute, alto flute, which sounds a fourth below the concert C flute and bass flute, an octave below the C flute. Professional flute choirs often add a contrabass flute, two octaves below the C flute.” 

"we would love...a contrabass
...about eight feet tall..."
Rebecca Grote, Librarian and Administrator for Coro di Flauti, shared with LincolnCMN that “one of the comments we hear the most is that most were not aware of any kind of flutes besides the flute and piccolo. The flute choir sound is new to the community and not heard in Lincoln outside of the UNL flute studio of Dr. John Bailey.” Despite the variety of flutes already in Lincoln’s flute choir, they are hoping for more: “we would love to acquire a contrabass flute to add to our instrumentation, which sounds two octaves below the C flute.  It is about eight feet tall and is played standing up.” 

Already enjoy the sound of the flute? Then be sure to attend this concert; experience the variety and range of the flute family! Enjoy a program of classical and sacred music including 'Remembrances' by Kelly Via, which is “much loved by Coro. It is a gorgeous flute choir arrangement of Claude Debussy's 'Clair de Lune'.  Kelly Via has midwest connections by the way, as he received his Bachelor of Music from Drake University in Des Moines, IA.”

Besides the sacred and classical works that will be performed on the concert on Sunday, Lincoln’s flute choir enjoys playing “for the St. Paul Friday concert series [which] has allowed us to explore flute choir music other than sacred. Early next year we have been invited to perform for the opening of an exhibition of Japanese quilts at the International Quilt Museum, so Coro is performing Japanese-themed music. It has been an interesting experience to program for a variety of types of performances.”

Flute choirs, becoming more and more popular since the 1970s, have been a wonderful way for flute players to perform together and more frequently since flute parts are often limited in orchestras and bands. In fact, “there is a vast amount of quality flute choir music to select from” although Coro di Flauti “would love” a world premiere composed for them by a local composer sometime in the future. 

Sunday’s performance is just one way that the flute choir not only enjoys the opportunity to make music together as flutists but also to “culturally and musically enrich the community”—their audience: you.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Lincoln's Choral Scene: bright and beautiful

Lincoln Choral Artists came together to celebrate choral music in the Capitol city today with Lincoln Lutheran Choir and the Sacred Arts Homeschool Choirs. On a beautiful November afternoon with sunlight shining through the stained glass windows of College View Church, the audience was treated  to an hour-and-a-half concert with a lovely blend of styles and selections of music.

The setting of the Capitol City Choirs Concert:
College View Church
Perhaps best of all, in a concert featuring local choirs, local composers were featured as well. Jean Henderson, Garrett Hope, David von Kampen, and Kurt Knecht had pieces sung, to name just a few. Music was sung praising God, celebrating Nebraska, and some just for fun.

A crowd pleaser was "I'll Tell My Ma" with clapping and stomping along with the music, although Salmo 150, also sung by the Lincoln Choral Artists, was also attention grabbing in an entirely different way. The children's "Scales and Arpeggios" was delightful and fun, while the combined pieces with all three choirs to end the concert were excellent selections allowing moments where the children's voices rang out clear and then were joined in full chorus.

The homeschool choirs' presence lent a hopeful quality to the concert. The sight--and sound--of the children singing alongside the adult choirs could give no clearer a vision of the future of choral arts in the community: it is a bright one.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

2016 NMTA Conference: Love of Music, Gift of a Lifetime

Once again, the Nebraska Music Teachers’ Association will feature wonderful musicians and educators at its annual conference next week. In past years, some of the stunning clinicians, composers, and performers have included Barbara Lister-Sink, Libby Larsen, Tony Caramia, Kurt Knecht, Dmitri Vorobiev, and Polina Khatsko, just to name a few.

The insights and sharing of ideas that these artists bring to the NMTA conferences each year have a far-reaching impact in the state. It’s not just the attendees that benefit but also their students for many years to come. To celebrate 100 years of bringing teachers and ideas together, NMTA will host Phyllis Lehrer in concert on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at the Strauss Performing Arts Center at UNO with tickets available for just $5. Besides talks and sessions with teaching and performing tips and tools, commissioned composer, Anthony Donofrio, of UNK will present and premier his composition, “Canto II,” for soprano and percussion featuring Amanda DeBoer Bartlett and Scott Shinbara, both of Omaha.
Phyllis Alpert Lehrer
2016 NMTA State Conference
Guest Artist and Clinician

Phyllis Lehrer, guest artist and clinician for the conference, and fellow clinician, Ingrid Clarfield, have been friends and colleagues since 1982 and have collaborated on a series called Classics for the Developing Pianist (Books 1-5). Lehrer describes these books as containing “20 pieces each (the 100 pieces ranging from early intermediate through early advanced) that we believe every pianist will enjoy and should learn to play.”

Lehrer and Clarfield both have a passion for teaching. In a LincolnCMN interview, Lehrer shared that she “pretended to be a teacher even before kindergarten; I remember setting up chairs in my basement playroom and talking to my ‘class.’" By 16-years-old, she was teaching her first piano lesson.

Ingrid Clarfield
Guest Clinician
Clarfield has stories about good teachers and bad teachers that helped form her into the educator that she is today a teacher at Julliard taught her “how not to motivate students” and she learned that helping her students love music, feel motivated, and be prepared was of the utmost importance. She always finds something positive to say to her students while still holding the bar very high.

Their work on intermediate repertoire by no means suggests that they overlook the importance of beginner piano students. As Lehrer stated:

“The beginner is probably our most important student. This is when we have the opportunity to share our love of music, to motivate students to discover how extraordinary our instrument is, it's many colors, it's ability to imitate moods, characters, be an orchestra, to keep us company through our own practicing, improvising, composing, to make music with our teacher, parent or friend.  Beginning teachers who have just graduated with performance degrees naturally want to share their recent knowledge and expertise with more advanced students. But with good pedagogy courses that enable interested teachers to learn about the sequences and processes of music learning, the variety of literature available, the possibilities,of group and private instruction, piano parties, chamber music, the rewards and importance of teaching beginners can convince those who are hesitant. In our pedagogy programs at Westminster Choir College, …students… have special opportunities to intern with our faculty, choosing to learn about subjects such as the gifted student, the adult beginner, pre-school music, teaching college students, and to explore all levels of repertoire, technical approaches, learning styles, and more!”

Lehrer also shared that she is “fortunate to love teaching all ages and stages. Right now I am teaching my 8 and 10 year old grandchildren who live in Princeton, the 10 year old daughter of one of my voice teacher colleagues, several teenagers, 9 college students (undergrads and grads) and adults who come on a sometime basis.”

Clarfield’s love of teaching and music is proved beyond a doubt by the perseverance and determination needed to continue teaching and sometimes performing following the loss of the use of her left hand due to a stroke in 2007. Not even a stroke could keep her from sharing her love of music—and she’ll be spreading her passion and knowledge with Nebraska’s music teachers during the course of the conference.

When asked if there was one thing she wishes every music educator or piano teacher could learn and put into practice, Lehrer shared: “I would urge teachers to constantly check that we are teaching skills, musicianship, practice habits, but above all sharing and bringing a love of music to our students. That is the gift of a lifetime."

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Lincoln's Own Chiara String Quartet: Sharing their Hearts

On Thursday, October 6th, the Chiara String Quartet once again wowed and wooed their audience. Their performance, mostly performed from memory, expressed a whole range of emotions, from the humor and playfulness of Britten’s Three Divertimenti to the sobbing of the violin in Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130. 

L-R: Rebecca Fischer, Jonah Sirota,
Hyeyung Julie Yoon, Gregory Beaver
photo credit: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
The Chiara has the ability to reach out across the stage and pull the audience into the music. Despite the big space they performed in, the Chiara made the experience one that felt true to chamber music: “music composed for the home… it is intimate music.” The performers make playing in an ensemble and playing from memory look effortless—flawless timing and musicality that makes you forget that they’re even playing without music in front of them. Of course, playing from memory and not relying on the music is exactly what gives them the freedom to express and communicate with each other and the audience in a way not otherwise possible. In fact, the instruments become an extension of their bodies, every part of their body conveying the emotions, gestures, and music: sharing what is in their hearts through these great works.

Besides phenomenal musicality, the Chiara draws audiences in by giving them notes of what to listen for from their own deep understanding of the pieces they perform, either with spoken listening tips or written program notes as at this performance, they give you a glimpse of what they found to love in each piece—and therefore, even for those who are not musicians, there is an understanding and appreciation born for the works at each concert.

The Britten piece might not sound like what people associate with “classical music,” which to many still connotes “boring” or “pretty background music”… instead, it is full of “breezy charm,” (as stated in the program notes,) and the harmonies, rhythms, and musical gestures grab the listeners attention especially as performed, memorized, by the always engaging Rebecca Fischer, Hyeyung Julie Yoon, Jonah Sirota, and Gregory Beaver.

The String Quartet in A minor, Op. 29 by Schubert had a great deal more of the sounds and form that people associate with the idea of classical music, but the program notes pointed out the connections of this piece with the art-songs that Schubert is perhaps most famous for, and the audience could hear the first violin singing a lyrical line and listen as the “contrasting material in the movement [that is] much more instrumental in nature…takes turns throughout the group, ultimateely beating out the lyrical material to finish the [first] movement. The lyrical voice loses the battle but wins the war, as the rest of the piece is significantly more vocal in character.” (Jonah Sirota's program notes)

The last half of the program featured a piece that Sirota described as a “hallowed” work, closely related to the work and reason that he decided to devote his career and his life to being in a string quartet. Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat Major was written for the future—a work seen as perhaps being written by a crazed man, it instead is a brilliant and timeless piece performed by the Chiara “by heart,” memorized and as one, they won a truly well-deserved standing ovation at the close.

The Chiara String Quartet is based in Lincoln, Nebraska, and yet it is easy to see with a simple search how wide their audience and acclaim reaches like a NY Times article or various news pieces highlighting their performances in many places. Lincolnites: if you didn’t come to their performance last night, you are missing an incredible experience. Save the dates now for the rest of the Hixson-Lied Concert Series in Kimball Recital Hall all at 7:30pm: Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Tickets and more information:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Music Outreach Program Receives Gladys Lux Education Award

The 2016 Mayor’s Arts Awards will honor the Music Outreach Program (MOP) of the Lincoln Music Teacher’s Association (LMTA) with the Gladys Lux Education Award. This award “recognizes special initiatives in or dedication to arts education” and could hardly find a better organization to recognize than MOP.

Jessica Freeman, MOP Chair, explains that this award is “an honor and wonderful recognition of LMTA's efforts with this program to help at-risk students receive quality instruction in music.” 

“The program is run by a volunteer 9 member committee.  Thirteen LMTA teachers with Professional Status serve 50 students studying piano, voice, violin, viola, guitar, and flute. Music Outreach Students participate fully in their assigned studio teacher's events including studio recitals, participation in LMTA events, and other performance opportunities as their skills develop.”

The benefits of MOP for the community are far reaching. Besides providing lessons to students and families who would otherwise not be able to afford them, it also gives opportunities to teachers to go beyond what they might normally do in their studios and gives others in the community the chance to contribute through grants and donations to a wonderful cause. Just five years ago, LMTA had occasion to begin an Endowment fund that ensures the good work of MOP will continue for many years to come. 

MOP student and teacher performing
credit: LMTA
The students that participate in MOP are already making their own contributions to the community, as Freeman said, “in studio recitals, participation in LMTA events, and other performance opportunities as their skills develop.  All Music Outreach Teachers are encouraged to host outreach recitals for the community. These have included performances at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, various retirement communities, and school performances. Several MOP students have become proficient enough at performing to secure leading positions in the school and youth orchestras and/or perform senior recitals. Others have performed for events such as the Lincoln Community Foundation's Donor Recognition Luncheon.  One MOP student was even inspired to perform on a street corner in the Haymarket to raise funds for a family he had heard about who had recently lost their father/husband and had no funds to pay for funeral expenses.  Several of the MOP students love music so much that they study multiple instruments (often by working out deals with a teacher for a second instrument) or they've quit the Music Outreach Program so that they can become more involved with school musicals and other music opportunities.”

Find out more about how you might contribute to MOP at the LMTA website.
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Friday, April 15, 2016

MarySue Harris: Rewards and Awards of a Life of Teaching

Nebraska Music Teachers Association (NMTA) has much to be proud of this year. In addition to David von Kampen’s award as MTNA 2015 Distinguished Composer of the Year, longtime NMTA teacher MarySue Harris was awarded the Distinguished Service Award. 

Although Harris was “truly in disbelief about receiving the award,” it is certainly a well-deserved recognition for not only 40+ years of teaching, but also many years of involvement in teachers associations at local and national levels. Harris spoke with LincolnCMN this week about the award and her career as a teacher. 

“It is an extremely meaningful award because it validates all of my service (musically and as a  volunteer) for many years!  Hearing them read my service record was truly an amazing realization.....that I actually HAD served my local, state and national organizations, with great joy!”

MarySue Harris MTNA 2015 Distinguished Service
In the 1990s, Harris was twice honored in Nebraska once as Teacher of the Year and later with the Service Award for outstanding service. At the national level, she served as Community Outreach and Education Chair. Harris has also established an endowment fund that “allows qualified the qualified teacher to receive money from the Fellowship to build his/her studio and help it prosper.” Certainly, in this way, Harris will continue helping the music teaching community for many years to come.

“It has been a constant goal to be the best member I could be, of all the music teachers organizations; and they have served me so well as I participated to the fullest!” Harris is a wonderful example of the reciprocity of the music teachers associations—as she gave of her time, she received fellowship and practical help as well.

Harris’ life of teaching has been a joy to her as well as others:

“Having just given a workshop on technic today for Lincoln Music Teachers, I am reminded that the interest, receptivity and thoughtful consideration given to me by the teachers attending were the best rewards I could ever hope for!  There is definitely  a reciprocal element in giving of yourself.  I am most grateful for all the interest and eagerness to learn something new that the teachers showered on me!  I had this same kind of welcome reception from my students when I was teaching!  It was always a real pleasure to teach!”

Harris’ advice for other teachers is to wish them what she has found to be true: “Give it your ALL!  And it will reward you in return!”
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

MTNA awards David von Kampen's musical world

David von Kampen is the winner
of the MTNA 2015 Distinguished
Composer of the Year
David von Kampen has an impressive About page at his website and is currently lecturer of theory and literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln among other positions and accomplishments—but you don’t need to know all that to become a fan. 

Just take a listen to his music.

The judges for the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) 2015 convention must have thought the same thing: out of 32 entries, von Kampen’s song cycle, “Under the Silver and Home Again: Five Walter de la Mare Lyrics for Baritone and Piano” was selected as the winner for 2015 Distinguished Composer of the Year.

von Kampen recently spoke with LincolnCMN about this piece and the award. The piece was commissioned by the Nebraska Music Teachers Association (NMTA), and von Kampen had no trouble choosing to compose for baritone and piano; “I wanted to write something for Nathan Sullivan to perform, and I knew piano/vocal would be easily transportable. I decided it would be a song cycle, then went poem-hunting.”

von Kampen settled on five poems by Walter de la Mare, “The Old Stone House,” “The Buckle,” “The Ride-by-Nights,” “Bunches of Grapes” and “Mistletoe.” When asked to give listening advice for this work, von Kampen said, “in a piece like this, I'm trying to establish contrasting musical characters between the movements. If you listen through the whole thing, hopefully there is a really nice sense of flow from one to the next - where nothing sounds the same, but it all feels like it belongs to the same world.”

Fortunately, you can listen to each movement of “Under the Silver and Home Again” here and get a sense for this “world” that von Kampen has created with this work. Many of von Kampen’s compositions can be heard on soundcloud, and listeners will enjoy the jazz influence in many of his pieces: “When I'm not writing for actual jazz ensembles (instrumental or vocal),” von Kampen shared, “I think my jazz background still comes through the music a little bit. Generally this is more about the harmony than rhythm or style. Jazz harmony is both complex and beautiful, which I think is an appealing combination.” He went on to state, “I like all sorts of different things.” 

As von Kampen enjoys “great songwriters, all sorts of popular and folk music. Choral, chamber music, musical theater,” he says that his career as a musician and composer was thanks to “very supportive parents and teachers” and the fact that “the more I did composed, the more natural it became.”

His advice to aspiring professional musicians and composers is to “Become a decent pianist, learn how to play by ear. Be able to sing (even if you aren't a singer), and be able to sight-read. Get practical experience however you can - composing, performing. Collaborate with friends. Listen to lots of music.”

As a modern composer in today’s world where many still think of classical music as “dead” or at least “boring,” von Kampen brings a sound that is very alive—blending many wonderful styles of music in his own unique style. 
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Sunday, January 31, 2016

St. Olaf Choir Concert: Hope for today and for the future

Last night, the St. Olaf Choir sang to a sold out crowd at First Plymouth Church. “Tonight,” said Conductor Anton Armstrong, whose preconcert interview with LincolnCMN can be read here, “this space truly feels like a place of worship.” The concert was more than a concert, in a way, everyone was joined together in a time of prayer—listening and soaking in a “message of hope and light.”

The texts selected varied in language, but certainly all contained the transformative message of love and hope that Armstrong spoke of at the end of the evening. Latin, Hebrew, German, and English were all sung, and the texts ranged from scripture to poetry to liturgical prayers. 

St. Olaf Choir 2016 Winter Tour
courtesy of St. Olaf Choir
The variety of styles made the evening more enjoyable than many choral concerts tend to be when the constant sameness of sound has a numbing quality. From a not-often-heard work by Bach to a Ginastera setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah  to a very unexpected and rousing gospel-style setting of Credo featuring piano and drum set or the beautiful Magnificat of David N. Childs with its ancient text and modern harmonies, the program was designed by a masterful hand. The sound of each new piece was alternately uplifting, exciting, peaceful, beautiful, hopeful, or triumphantly powerful.

Whether the music was written in the 1700s or 2015, the choir was moving with rhythm and emotion flowing through their bodies. An audience can’t help but feel and move with the music when presented with sound and sight that catches them up and draws them along so completely!

In the performance given by these young people, the audience could hear why diction, dynamics, pitch, and the multitude of things a conductor pleads with his choir to do are so important, when done properly, music is created. The details don’t stand out, they are forgotten, and all the listener experiences is simply music—that mysterious art that moves people beyond their own hurts and sorrows and gives them hope. It is clear that whatever transformation may have taken place in the hearts of audience members, the experiences these young college students have from singing in this choir will have a profound impact in who they are as they go out into their various careers. 

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Anton Armstrong and the St. Olaf Choir: Unity, hope, and love

St. Olaf Choir in Concert
courtesy of St. Olaf Choir
On Saturday, January 30th, at 7:00pm, the St. Olaf Choir will perform as a part of the Abendmusik season at First Plymouth Church (2000 D Street). The choir performed in Lincoln in 2011, and whether you were in the audience then or not, now is a not-to-be-missed chance to be transformed by a message of hope and love.

In an exclusive interview with LincolnCMN, Conductor Anton Armstrong explained that the choir’s purpose is “not to entertain.” Instead, “if we have done our job properly, the listener will feel transformed. If the listener is entertained, that is simply a wonderful byproduct.” In selecting the repertoire and rehearsing the choir, Armstrong has spent time on the meaning of the texts “not just on the music.”

What does this mean? Certainly, the St. Olaf Choir excels in their choral sound and musicality. They are “amateurs,” Armstrong says, but only in the best sense of the word which comes from the Latin word “amat, to love.” While the choir sings at a high professional level, it is unlike “professionals [who] often forget the love of the art. This group will not disappoint.”

Having evolved over 104 years, the choir is, in a way, “a microcosm of the college.” St. Olaf College is, as described by Armstrong, “a traditional, liberal arts college, but with a global perspective and grounded in faith; an ecumenical community of faith.”

Anton Armstrong conducting
courtesy of St. Olaf Choir
Armstrong, only the fourth conductor in the history of the choir, sang as a student in the choir during it’s 75th anniversary year. Under his predecessor, Kenneth Jennings, Armstrong was given “insight into the history of the choir.” While Jennings was also “opening the sound” including music more acceptable to modern aesthetics of the late 20th century. Jennings expanded to choir’s repertoire to include not only sacred, but also secular works.

“Jennings opened the door, and I kicked it wide open.” 

Besides including some instruments instead of being exclusively a cappella, Armstrong has broadened the styles of choral music that the choir sings. As the choir has traveled around the world, they have expanded their repertoire to include the music of the places they travel. They’ve also included more music that is a part of America, Armstrong shared, “I love styles of Gospel and African work songs and freedom. No other group was doing that kind of thing when we started.”

In Lincoln, the audience will also hear a piece by a current student in the choir, “encouraging modern composers and works,” and step back in time to a lesser known work by Bach. “It’s a smorgasbord,” Armstrong commented. The evening will include a work by Jennings, Armstrong’s predecessor who passed away this past year; Ginastera, in honor of the hundredth anniversary of his birth; a choral work by Kurt Weill, “he’s not usually associated with choral works, but this is a wonderful piece, a Shabbat prayer.”

Most importantly, Armstrong’s wish for the Lincoln audience is the same as what he wishes for the students in the choir, that “the music will feed their souls.”  

It’s recognizing the diversity of the students, or of the audience, “we think of diversity of ethnicity and race (which there is in this choir), but in the years I’ve been here, I’ve realized that diversity goes beyond that. It is socio-economic, political, religious, spiritual—even if they look the same, they are not the same.” But in this musical experience, Armstrong wants singers and listeners alike to “leave transformed as human beings. To be opened up to a message of hope, of love, and to feel a little better about the world that they live in. In a time of division and hate, find unity and love.” 

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