South Sound Choir Academy presents ‘The Fabric of the Universe’

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The South Sound Youth Chorus, Tacoma Singing Society, and Tacoma Ringing Society – the three ensembles that are members of the South Sound Choir Academy – will explore the warp and weave of reality through science, sentiment and song during the course of their June 16 concert called “The Fabric of the Universe.” Under the direction of Megan Oberfield, the concert will take place at Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 N. Madison St., Tacoma at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

The South Sound Choir Academy offer its ensemble members quality musical experiences and instruction for children and adults. Members enjoy learning and performing music chosen by expert instructors who carefully tailor repertoire and rehearsal activities to the needs the ensemble. Rehearsals are said to be fun and fast-paced, and focus on healthy technique, improving music-reading skills and building community.

South Sound Choral Academy is a combination of new and existing ensembles coming together under the same non-profit umbrella. The trio of groups resulted when the South Sound Youth Choirs, founded in 2009 by Chris DeLeon and Megan Oberfield, joined forces with Tacoma Singing Society, founded in 2012 by Megan Oberfield, to create a choral organization for all ages. At this juncture, the organization expanded to include the new bell ensemble, Tacoma Ringing Society.

The South Sound Youth Choir is a treble choir for singers in 3rd through 8th grades.

A skillfully designed and administered curriculum of top-quality musical literature and educational activities invites and inspires young singers to become confident choral musicians. A playful, sequential and developmentally appropriate approach to instruction encourages students to apply higher-order thinking skills as they learn music theory and develop musical artistry. Individuals are guided and challenged to achieve a broad and deep understanding of music and are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own learning and the success of the ensemble.

The Tacoma Singing Society, with the emphasis on society, is an auditioned choir for adults 21 and over. Singers rehearse (and socialize) in members’ homes Tuesday evenings, 7-9 p.m., January through June. Repertoire includes classic choral music from a wide range of singing traditions. The group was founded in order to offer an opportunity for accomplished singers to sing classic choral literature from many cultures and eras in a secular social setting.

In 2012, the group began with madrigals, part-songs, and a variety of folksong arrangements and original compositions. Rehearsals were held in members’ homes, and the inaugural concert was held at First Methodist Church.

In 2013 the group performed a program called “Shakespeare, Psalms, and the Well-Traveled Tune,” which included settings of the 23rd Psalm, Schumann’s “Spanisches Liebeslieder,” featuring Norm Seidel at the piano and Heather Urschel as soprano soloist, Hindemith’s Six Chansons and Shakespeare settings by Matthias and Vaughn Williams.

Other concerts have included pieces in Hungarian and Swedish, and several modern compositions. A highlight of a 2014 concert, held at Mason United Methodist Church, was a setting of the shape note tune, “The Reapers All with Their Sharp Sickles Appear” by Seth Houston, and featuring Christie Smith as soloist. Other programs centered around a set of hymns to the Virgin, pieces by C.V. Stanford, Night and Day songs, and a set of Swedish folk songs.

The Tacoma Ringing Society began in Sept. 14, 2015 with five founding members. This ensemble stems from many years of ringing in church and school with musicians of all ages.

The “Fabric of the Universe” program is a curated collection of pieces on the themes of time, space, and mathematics, as well as fabric, both literal and metaphorical. The program is sourced from wide and far in geography – pieces sung in English, French, Slovenian, Swedish, Latin, Greek, Spanish, and Sanskrit – as well as in time, from the 16th century to present day (present day meaning last week when the young singers from South Sound Youth Choir collaborated in the composition of an original piece which will debut at the concert).

Music for the June 16 “Fabric of the Universe” concert is inspired by a variety of works.

“As the Sunflower Turns on Her God” by Timothy Takach translates two related mathematical concepts into music – the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence. Also featured are “Comet” by Paul John Rudoi and “Chronologic” by Eric William Barnum.

“Quilt Songs: Women Weaving the Fabric of Life,” are the work of five prominent female composers who were struck by the creativity of Kay McCarthy’s magnificent quilts. Each composer was commissioned to compose an a cappella work based on a poem of their choosing – a poem that spoke to each of them about the quilt they chose. The techniques range from intricate piecing to graceful, curved appliqué.

“How delightful to bring together the worlds of music, poetry, and fiber art for all to enjoy!” said director Meagan Oberfield.

The concert will include two of the five pieces: “Sun Quilt” by Gabriela Lena Frank (2016) and “Nearly Insane” (from Quilt Songs) by Ysaÿe Barnwell.

The concert will conclude with “Had I the Heavens’ Embroidered Cloths” by James Mulholland, based on a text by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

For more information on the South Sound Choral Academy, visit www.sschoiracademy.org.

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