Choirs throughout the region are looking for fresh voices
HUNTINGTON -- Believe it or not, Christmas time is coming.
While there may be four months of shopping left, there's only so much time to get your show right, and thus, Musical Arts Guild begins practice Tuesday evening honing both patriotic and Christmas fare for a Nov. 11 concert.
MAG is looking for a few more good singers to join them at rehearsals which start at 7 p.m. Tuesdays, at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, 513 10th St., Huntington.
The choir will be directed by veteran music man, Bruce Rous, who is directing the choir for the first time.
Rous, who for years lived in New York City and played keyboards on and off Broadway and on national tours, is the musical director at Johnson Memorial. Rous is also an adjunct professor at Marshall University, and has worked with Huntington Outdoor Theater and the Huntington Symphony Orchestra.
"We need more singers so bring them on," Rous said. "We are shooting for 50."
For folks who don't know, Musical Arts Guild has been around since 1963 and was one of the first groups in the city to regularly do musical theater.
The group also started the Musical Arts Guild children's theater which turned into the First Stage Theater Company.
Jean Dean, the new Guild president, said they are excited to work with Rous, the next in line of many distinguished MAG guest directors who've included Mark Smith, Don Williams and many more.
"Bruce has been so wonderful directing our church choir and not just musically wonderful but he is so much fun," Dean said.
The fall concert, free and open to the public, will be a unique one in that it takes place at the Huntington Museum of Art, which invited the choir up for a special event Nov. 11 on the night they celebrate the opening of their gift shop that's transformed for the holiday season.
Taking place on Veteran's Day, the concert will be balanced with half patriotic numbers and then some festive and fun holiday fare as well.
There are also about five Marshall University students joining MAG for the fall concert, including several of last year's scholarship winners, who must perform at least one concert with MAG.
Rous said are making a couple changes to make MAG more user-friendly from a new Facebook page to passing around recordings of the music so MAG's busy members can practice by themselves.
"I picked out the music months ago and sent them emails with all the recordings of it so they can hear what it sounds like instead of just coming to rehearsal," Rous said. "We do that with church too, so rather than just singing it one day a week and forgetting it by the next performance or rehearsal you can take some personal responsibility."
Go online at www.facebook.com/groups/354190734731583/ for more info.
Choral Union begins rehearsal
In addition to MAG, another community-based choir group is also beginning rehearsal.
Open to any interested community members, Marshall University's Choral Union will have its first rehearsal of Handel's "Messiah" at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 8, in room 150 of Smith Music Hall on Marshall's Huntington campus.
Following about a dozen Monday rehearsals, the group will perform with Marshall University's orchestra at 7:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4, and Sunday, Dec. 7, respectively, at the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in downtown Huntington.
"'Messiah' is arguably the most well-known large work for a chorus and orchestra," said director Robert Wray. "It's a great opportunity as a conductor to be able to perform these types of works."
Wray said this work of Handel tells the story of Jesus Christ, from Isaiah's prophecy of salvation to the acclamation of the Messiah. It was first performed in London in the 18th Century.
There are no membership fees to be a part of the group, but members are responsible for the purchase of their own music.
For more information about joining the Marshall University Choral Union, contact Wray by phone at 304-696-2399 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay up to date on rehearsals, visit the group's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MUchoralunion/.
Class for musical theater begins
The Fifth Avenue Academy theater class is now accepting students for its fall youth musical theater classes.
Director Eddie Harbert said there will be two classes meeting on Tuesdays from Aug. 26 to Oct. 28. The first class will run from 4 to 5:15 p.m. That class is for students ages 5 to 10.
The older group of students, ages 11 to 17, will meet from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m.
Harbert will teach the students the basics of theater, learning essentials such as blocking, the basics of characterization, as well as singing and choreography. Like the summer Fifth Avenue camps, students will also do tech work such as making props for their showcase. The show, Trick or Treat Horror Revue, is set for Tuesday, Oct. 28 during which the students will be doing themes and songs from "Capt., Louie, Jr." and "Little Shop or Horrors." All of the students will come together to do the Monster Mash at the end of the show.
The classes are limited to 20 students per class. Cost is $200 for the 10-week course.
Call Eddie Harbert at 304-544-2831 for more info or to reserve a spot.
Children's Chorus begins rehearsals in Ohio
The new Ariel Children's Chorus, under the direction of Judith Cavendish, will meet for the first time from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4 in the Ariel Chamber Theatre located on the third floor of the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre complex.
Boys and girls ages 6 through 12 are invited to join, with exceptions on both ends for exceptionally engaged students. At the first meeting, a group audition will be for pitch recognition and to check ranges. Information on rules and behavioral expectations will be distributed, along with various consent forms at this meeting so parents are asked to stay for a brief meeting. Tuition for this entire 14 week inaugural season is $100 per child, and will culminate in several performances for the holidays. Enrollment will be open until the end of September.
Along with musical instruction, children will be taught life skills, such as punctuality, self-confidence, appropriate dress and grooming, responsibility, interpersonal skills and respect.
Cavendish recently returned to the Tri-State after 15 years of teaching in the greater Baltimore area. She has bachelor's and master's degrees in voice from Marshall, with a minor in piano, and completed her doctoral studies at West Virginia University in 2000.
For the past 10 years she has conducted the Howard County Community College Singers, the HCC Children's Choir, Womansong of Baltimore, and appeared as soprano soloist with The Handel Choir and The Washington Bach Consort, among others.
Cavendish will be offering private voice and piano lessons at the Ariel on Tuesdays and Thursdays for $25 per half hour. Contact her by phone at 443-204-5312 or by email at email@example.com/.
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