VOX NOVA CHORAL CONSORT

We are excited to announce that Vox Nova Chamber Choir is now a broader music organization of four choral ensembles and an instrumental consort enlisting the talents of youth and adult singers and instrumentalists in the Maine community.

The new collective, comprised of four choirs and two instrumental chamber orchestras, will present a total of 12 concerts this season, an extraordinary expansion for the organization that, in its inception, sought only to stir an interest in modern and contemporary choral music in Midcoast Maine. Thank you to our members, audience, and community and business sponsors! In no small part, we have you to thank as we extend our reach to thousands of concert goers all over the state and engage hundreds of people in our organization’s management, activities and in fulfilling its artistic mission.

ENSEMBLES

Consort Singers is an adult chamber choir of 16 – 24 community singers that rehearses Sunday evenings 6 – 8 PM and performs twice per year. Directed by Shannon Chase. The Consort is open to new singers on a semesterly basis.

Chamber Choir is a mixed ensemble of 24 – 32 of experienced choral singers and rehearses Thursday evenings 7-9:30 PM. The choir performs four concerts annually. Directed by Shannon Chase. Steven Weston, Assistant Conductor. 

INTIMA is a semi-professional vocal ensemble of 8 – 16 formally trained vocalists. The ensemble rehearses twice monthly on Sunday afternoons 2:30 – 5 PM and performs in tandem with Vox Nova Chamber Choir. Directed by Shannon Chase.

Concordia is a chamber-sized, advanced youth choir of 8 – 16 high school-aged singers. The chorus rehearses Tuesday evenings 5:45 – 7 PM. Members are from Southern, Central and Midcoast Maine regional high schools (e.g.,  Brunswick, Bath, Topsham and Richmond). Directed by Shannon Chase.

Instrumental Consort. Instrumentalists who perform with our choral ensembles as chamber music soloists, in small ensembles (e.g., duets, trios, quintets) and as members of a chamber orchestra. Directed by Shannon Chase. Drew Albert, Assistant Conductor.

ABOUT THE CHOIR

Vox Nova Chamber Choir was founded in 2009 on the campus of Bowdoin College. Its members, many of whom are trained performers, music educators and choir directors, come to The choir champions the vast repertory of modern and contemporary choral music and has a strong tradition of championing a cappella singing.

Vox Nova is known for its bold, sleek sound and innovative programming. Noting the choir’s ability to interpret complex scores, reviewer Christopher Hyde described Vox Nova as “one of the brighter stars in the classical music heavens”, burning with “a high level of musicianship and excitement” (Portland Press Herald, 2012, 2014). Peter Alexander praised the choir’s “near perfect intonation even in some terribly difficult passages [and its] clear, unaffected voices, and superb execution under [Shannon] Chase’s precise and emotive direction” (Coastal Journal, 2015).

Audiences routinely describe the ensemble’s signature sound as stellar and fascinating. By promoting and helping to preserve the vitality of contemporary classical music, Vox Nova occupies a unique niche in the Maine musical community.The Choir is smaller and more skilled than most community choirs. While not neglecting choral favorites, Vox Nova specializes in music that employs complex chords, polyrhythms, and elegant dissonances, while requiring
vocal dexterity and a finely calibrated blend.

Sometimes a composer asks for dramatic sounds, such as whistles, sweeping wordless glissandos, birdcalls, tonal chants and whispers, even aleatoric (by chance) singing, in which each musician repeats a musical phrase at will. “Aleatoric singing produces an ethereal, heavenly effect,” says Shannon Chase, citing a recently performed piece, In Paradisium by Edwin Fissinger. “It is just one example of how birthing new music into the sphere of sound is one of labor and love,” she explains. “Vox Nova’s mission demands commitment to technical mastery, disciplined approach to musicianship, and readiness for unconventional compositional language.”

The singers belong to a community of people who genuinely care for each other and who are grounded in this common endeavor. “They come back,” Chase says, “week after week, learning to hear true, pure vocal intervals, not the compromises built into a modern keyboard,” which Director Chase uses as little as possible, and only in the very early stages of rehearsal. “Reliance on the piano is the enemy,” she explains. “I want each singer to learn to hear those pure intervals, and to hear tones differently according to where they fall within a particular, and often complex chord.”

To foster the intimate, well-blended sound that results from such training, she often moves singers into mixed formations where, for example, a bass standing next to a soprano learns to fine tune and blend with his neighbor while mastering a separate vocal line. “I seek to build independent, confident singers,” she says, “but singers who are attentive to, and care for each other.” Thus, Vox Nova enthusiastically and deftly performs pieces in various formations, depending on the particular composition and its desired musical effects.

Director Chase is solely focused on preparing Vox Nova for its concert series and performances, however, the choir engages in artistic collaboration to extend the reach of the choir’s core mission. Vox Nova has appeared with the Midcoast Symphony, Portland Symphony Orchestra and recently assumed the role of chorus in Portland Ovation’s premier production of The Summer King, an opera by USM composer Daniel Sonenberg. Vox Nova commissions and premiers new compositions and collaborates in performance with Maine musicians and ensembles such as the DaPonte String Quartet who have joined the choir in a number of programs such as Music of the Spheres (2012) and With Strings Attached (2016).

During the 2017-2018 concert season, Vox Nova will extend its performance radius to Bangor, Lewiston and Portland in addition to performing for our home audience in the Brunswick-Topsham area.

“About the Choir” contributed by Burke Long