Saturday, October 11, 2014

SMWC Homecoming Concert 2014: Music and Memories

The 2014 SMWC Alumnae Homecoming Choir
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
Sr. Marie Brendan Harvey rehearsing
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel
Photo Credit: Sharon R Boyle
Saturday, October 4, 2014, was a day to be remembered. The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Chorale and Madrigals Homecoming Concert "Music and Memories" was held in the Church of the Immaculate Conception and included many memorable songs, traditions, and people.

Generations of alumnae returned to sing together, to meet new students, and to remember the traditions of the SMWC Chorale and Madrigals. The program included songs with special meaning, such as the piece "Music, When Soft Voices Die" by Roger Quilter, lovingly dedicated to the memory of Marian Krajewska Bates, who was the Voice Professor at SMWC from 1970-2005. She sadly passed away this summer due to injuries sustained from an automobile accident. Her legacy lives on in each person who had the privilege of knowing her and for those who learned from her.

Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken, live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves when the rose is dead, are heaped for the beloved’s bed;
And so thy thoughts when thou art gone, love itself shall slumber on.
(Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Michael Boswell has taught voice at SMWC since 2005 and
 has been Director of Choirs since 2009
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel

Aligning with the theme of Music and Memories, Director of Choirs Michael Boswell invited Sister Marie Brendan Harvey to return and conduct two pieces with the Alumnae Choir. Harvey began teaching at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1950, where she taught Voice, Chorale, and Chant. In 1958, she started the Madrigals, pulling the best voices in Chorale together in a group of twelve women, offering three programs a year. While Director of Choirs at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for almost thirty years, she led many concerts in conjunction with many men's choirs which included Saint Joseph's College, Ball State University, and Xavier University. She also premiered Sister Cecilia Clare Bocard's well-known A Cycle of Psalms.
Sr. Marie Brendan Harvey, then and now
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
As a celebration of both Brendan and Bocard, the SMWC Madrigals, directed by Michael Boswell, performed 'The Lord is My Shepard' and 'Cast Thy Care on the Lord' from Bocard's A Cycle of Psalms at the Homecoming Concert.

Boswell made some remarks before the Alumnae Choir sang on the concert:

"The first piece they will sing, ‘In This Ancient House’ speaks of a place filled with memories, not so different than our very own Church of the Immaculate Conception! As they sing this piece, I encourage you to reflect upon some of your favorite memories in this special and sacred space." 
Rehearsing "In This Ancient House"
Photo Credit: Sharon R Boyle
As the choir sang this haunting piece, the church seemed to fill with memories evoked by the music. The voices blended to create yet another moment in time which would remain in the historic building long after the music ended. 

Sr. Marie Brendan Harvey then proceeded to direct the Alumnae Homecoming Choir in performing "Danny Boy" and "Blessing", as she was known for singing Irish songs when she served on the music faculty. The energy of this woman defied her years and the choirs reciprocated her energy! She instructed many students in her time at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, leaving them as part of her legacy to the world and establishing a standard of excellence in the choral programs. Also connecting the past with the present was the mention of Sister Susan Pietrus, DMA, who was a member of the Madrigals under direction of Sr. Marie Brendan Harvey when she was a Woods student. Pietrus went on to become Director of Choirs at SMWC in 1980 and served in this role until she passed away in 2008.
Sr. Marie Brendan Harvey rehearsing with the Alumnae Choir
Photo Credit: Sharon R. Boyle
Seniors singing "How Can I Keep From Singing"
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel

"How Can I Keep From Singing" was a rousing piece, featuring the current seniors, singing the solo part as a small group. The Homecoming Concert ended as Boswell ended the same concert the previous year, singing the Alma Mater "Our Lady of Providence" and "The Ring Song". Boswell invited all alumnae in the audience, as well as the choirs, to circle the church to sing, stating: 

"It's time for YOU to sing the songs of YOUR community. I would like to invite all current students and any alums that are here today to circle the Church for the singing of 'Our Lady of Providence' the Alma Mater and the 'Ring Song'. The words are available in your program. These are your songs, and your chance to feel the power of memories through music!"
Pictured: Jessica Claycomb and Patricia Walke
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel

And sing they did! Click here to enjoy the singing of Our Lady of Providence, by all who were present at the concert. 

Michael Boswell (L); Sr. Laurette Bellamy (C); Ron Maurey (R)
Sr. Laurette Bellamy, Professor Emeritus, taught on Music Faculty
(and served as Chair) at SMWC for many years,
starting the Music Therapy Program in 1983.
Ron Maurey has accompanied at SMWC
since the 90's and remains as Instructor of Piano
Photo Credit: Ron Maurey
Receiving a standing ovation following the direction of the Alumnae Choir
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel

From the Past to the Present: Sr. Marie Brendan Harvey (L); Michael Boswell (C); and Sr. Martha Steidl (R)
Sr. Harvey and Sr. Steidl started as Novitiates in the Sisters of Providence together
and both served on the Music Faculty at SMWC for many years.
Photo Credit: Sharon R Boyle

Rebecca Kloskowski, senior
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel
Dr. Tracy Richardson ('88), Chair of SMWC Music and Theatre Dept,
singing in Alumnae Choir
Photo Credit: Anthony Dinkel

Ron Maurey, Accompanist,
conferring with Sr. Marie Brendan Harvey
Photo Credit: Sharon R Boyle
Michael Boswell with Elizabeth Hunter ('08)
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Hunter
Ron Maurey with Sherry Bube ('14)
Photo Credit: Ron Maurey

Until we come together again for another Reunion or Homecoming Concert, consider these words by Mary Oliver. 

–––all of them were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.

(from "Such Singing in the Wild Branches" by Mary Oliver, from Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, © Copyright 2003 by Mary Oliver.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 9 and Day 10: The Home Stretch

Our group has had a great time on this tour, but we are TIRED! Many of us have remarked how we wish we'd brought pedometers to measure the distance we have walked since we left on March 6th. The early days of the tour seem like a distant memory, and the bus feels like a second home. There is something very unique about how a group comes together through a bus tour.

Day 9:
Yesterday we had the entire day to continue sightseeing in Washington, D.C. Because the weather was supposed to be a bit warmer than the previous day, a majority of the group chose to start with the memorials: Korean War Veteran's Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, and finally the World War II Memorial. All of the memorials are meaningful in their own way. The Korean War Veterans Memorial is striking as there are many statues of soldiers actively walking through the foliage.

The Lincoln Memorial is truly moving in that Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on those steps, facing the reflection pool and Washington Monument, as he gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. It is powerful because of its sheer size and while it can be imposing, the statue feels empathetic and thoughtful.

The White House
 The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial is thought provoking...and we overheard one tour guide telling a group that it was designed in a way to make it look like it is cascading names toward the center of the if it is drowning in names. Interesting take on it, but regardless, it is powerful to look at this wall and see your own reflection among the many, many names of those who died in Vietnam.

The World War II Veteran's Memorial was truly stunning in size and scope...and in how it is placed. On one side you can turn and see the Lincoln Monument, turn 180 degrees and then see the Washington Monument. Each state is represented with a pillar and there is a wall of stars...each star represents 100 people, so you truly get a sense of the number of people lost. Each faction of the war (Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, etc.) is represented as well.
WWII Memorial

Students on steps of Lincoln Memorial
Following the Memorials, everyone headed to the museums they didn't get to see the day before, in addition to visiting the National Archives to see the original Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. They are housed in an incredible building, with so much beautiful detail and design.
Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall
We headed to dinner at Subway and Au Bon Pain on our way to the National Symphony Orchestra Concert at Kennedy Center. (Fun fact: Our bus driver and a few students who stayed on the bus during this time report that that they saw the President's Motorcade go by). The concert hall was beautiful and the music program was as well. The concert opened with two pieces from Debussy's Nocturnes, followed by Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43" featuring Daniil Trifonov, pianist (he is in his early 20's and has already won several prestigious competitions). He played an encore after the audience continued to stand, clap, and yell "brava!". Kelley O'Connor, mezzo-soprano, performed with the orchestra on Falla's "El amor brujo" (no standing ovation there) and the evening concluded with the sublime Respighi "Pini di Roma" ("Pines of Rome"). The conductor, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, is in his early 80's and walked out unsteadily each time he came to the stage, but as soon as he was on his podium, he exuded energy and vitality. That is why we were so surprised when numerous orchestra members stopped playing and lunged for him at the end of the 3rd movement as he began to collapse. He sat on the edge of the podium, raised his baton and indicated that the orchestra should continue. He proceeded to conduct from the seated position, resting occasionally and weakly gesturing as needed. In the 4th movement, in the Pines of the Appian Way, the music began to build and crescendo- suddenly he began to stand and resumed with more energy. It was riveting and as if the music itself picked him up, rejuvenated him, and allowed the entire audience to experience the moment between him and the marvelous orchestra. It was phenomenal and demonstrated pure professionalism for our students in attendance!
Korean War Veteran Memorial

Day 10:
Today we planned to go to Arlington Cemetery, but unfortunately there was a marathon this morning, and all roads leading to the Cemetery were blocked off. We decided to head on to Gettysburg. The battlefield is enormous and the group watched a movie about the Civil War and Gettysburg's significance, in particular, before then moving on to the Cyclorama where a 360 degree painting is installed and then the Museum. We stopped at the Cemetery on the grounds, saw the general area where it is believed Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, and took a little time to walk around some of the monuments before getting back on the bus and heading to Bentleyville (yes, the same hotel with the wooden floors!) this evening. We are overwhelmed with history and significant events! Going from Philadelphia where our country was debated and formalized in documents to seeing those documents in D.C., and then to see how our country continued to persevere through the most trying conflict -with one another- has been inspiring.
Lincoln Memorial

Heading home 3.16.14 

Tomorrow we leave early and head back to Terre Haute, hopefully missing a majority of the snow which is headed east.

We thank those of you responsible for helping to get us here, and for following along with our travels. It has been a wonderful experience, but we are all ready to come home.
*Will try to upload more pictures from the trip after we arrive home!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 8: Singing and the Smithsonian

Back on the bus for another day!
This morning we got on the bus by 8:45 a.m. in order to head to the Air Force Base for our music exchange with the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants. When we arrived, Michael Boswell had to give a special "code" number to the guard at the entry which made us feel very 007.

On tour of building
Once we arrived, we found that the building where the group rehearses is completely dedicated to the music ensembles of the United States Air Force. Each ensemble has its own space to rehearse, and we learned that they have a number of different music ensembles including rock band called Max Impact. We were granted the opportunity to briefly watch the Concert Band and the Air Force Strings (they treated us to their arrangement of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean").

We were taken on a tour around the building, seeing pictures of different ensembles at events featuring dignitaries, former presidents, and many other political figures.

U.S. Air Force Concert Band
U.S. Air Force Strings
 The Chorale and Madrigals group headed to where the Singing Sergeants were rehearsing and had the opportunity to listen to them sing several pieces. At one point, they invited Michael Boswell up to sing a piece ("Light of a Clear Blue Morning" by Craig Hella Johnson), which is a definite check mark on his bucket list! They then listened to the SMWC group sing before both groups had the opportunity to sing "Set Me As a Seal" together in a collaborative experience. Chief Angela Burns went to school with Michael Boswell (along with another singer in the group, who also went to East Carolina University with both Michael Boswell and Sharon Boyle) and spoke easily with the SMWC students. She facilitated a QA session, where the students asked them questions and listened to each singer in the ensemble describe: 1) their specific degrees and schools attended, 2) where they were from, 3) and how long they have been a member of the group. Their rapport with one another was evident and the exchanges felt easy and enjoyable. The Singing Sergeants ended our time together by singing one more song, "Freedom Song" which was beautiful.
Chief Angela Burns (front) of Singing Sergeants

Michael Boswell singing with Singing Sergeants

SMWC Choirs singing with Singing Sergeants
Listening to Singing Sergeants
After eating lunch on base, we headed to the Mall in D.C. to do some sightseeing for the rest of they day. Because it had dropped 35 degrees in one day and was suddenly 15 degrees with the wind chill, most of the group chose to visit some of the museums which are part of the Smithsonian. Favorite museums included the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of American History. Because of the cold, Michael decided to have the bus pick everyone up a little earlier and we headed to find dinner. Most of us ended up at Applebee's which was on the way to the hotel, and because many are tired of fast food! On the way to the restaurant, a Krispy Kreme shop was spotted, so after dinner, somehow everyone ended up at Krispy Kreme without even planning it!
Outside the Native American Museum 

At the Air and Space Museum
It was a very full and fun day (Although very cold. Winter, please end soon.) and tomorrow means more sightseeing in D.C.

Krispy Kreme! (Photo Credit: Ellen Webb)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 7 Choir Tour: Philadelphia Freedom

Ah. The City of Brotherly Love. As we mentioned, we have been watching the John Adams mini-series when we have longer trips, so imagine the excitement of the entire group to step off the bus this morning in Old Town, Philadelphia, and see Independence Hall down the street!

This morning Dr. Anneliese Payne and Dr. Janet Clark headed back home, but had to get their flight redirected to avoid the snow which was headed to Detroit. They arrived safely this evening and they will be missed.

We broke into small groups and explored the city most of the day, only to return to the bus by 5:00 p.m. Because the historic district is relatively condensed, some smaller groups would end up at the same location, sharing whatever else they had just seen with the others. Most chose to go first to the Visitor Center, where they provided free tickets to Independence National Historic Park, where Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Old City Hall, Philosophical Hall, and more are located. The Park Rangers who were stationed at each hall provided extensive information and history on each facet of the location, and answered questions in depth and with a wonderful grasp of context as well as dates and names.
That is Tiffany glass in the mosaic behind these students
In Independence Hall, we were able to see that the size of the rooms where great debates occurred are actually very small! In addition, George Washington's chair remains original to the space, with a wonderful story about Benjamin Franklin's observations of the "sun" image engraved on the chair.

Independence Hall and Congress Hall

Way in the back, center, is Washington's chair

Behind Independence Hall
Pretending to be part of the deliberations of Congress

Chatting with a Park Ranger outside of Congress Hall
We learned that after the initial hairline crack in the bell had been repaired, it was rung again on George Washington's birthday for a celebration and the old crack reappeared and kept moving up on the bell, so it was never rung again.

Liberty Bell!

Checking out the display prior to seeing the Liberty Bell

Christ Church Burial Ground:
Many signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here...
one of the most historic cemeteries in the country

Whoops! Tilt your head to the left and you'll see
Benjamin Franklin's tombstone, designed to his exact specifications.
Christ Church
Michael Boswell in front of Christ Church
Christ Church was incredibly interesting, and the guide was very knowledgeable explaining about all the historical figures who had attended church there: George and Martha Washington, Betsy Ross, John Adams, and many more. One group of Woods students who had come through today took the opportunity to sing after being asked by the guide. They broke into "Amazing Grace" in the church which served as a place of worship for those who founded our country. The building was flush with history and walking through felt like stepping into a time capsule. At one point, the 8-year-old on the trip (daughter of the two music faculty on the trip), along with a music student at another time in the day, both got the chance to ring the bell in the back of Christ Church. It was unassuming and didn't seem particularly special...but we found out it is 300 years old, older than the Liberty Bell and older than our country. It had been forged in England, brought to the Americas, part of the Christ Church until it was lent to another church for a period of time. Over time it was lent to various places, and ended up in the basement of a hospital and was gone for about 200 years. Just a couple of years ago, the bell was uncovered in the basement and found that Christ Church of Philadelphia was inscribed on the bell so it was returned. It still rings a beautiful tone!
Benjamin Franklin funded the cost of the steeple of Christ Church
At that time, it was the tallest building in the entire country.

Inside Christ Church Sanctuary

Christ Church bell which is 300 years old and still ringing
 Betsy Ross:
Alleyway leading to entrance of house Betsy Ross stayed in for three years
 All around Philadelphia there was literature and calendar of events related to Women's History Month. Still, there are few places and symbols which truly depict the impact that women had on the colonial period of history. Betsy Ross, though, was like the men of that time...changing with the times and adapting as needed. She was an upholsterer (unusual for women of that time), but after the Revolutionary War, less people wanted fancy upholstered items. At that time, she began working for the government/military sewing uniforms, etc. She was also widowed three times.

We can't write about Philadelphia and not mention "Rocky", right?
 There was so much to see and learn today, that it cannot possibly be all included here. More places were visited than mentioned here, but overall, it was heard over and over again "I love this place!". On the bus ride to the hotel in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. at the end of the day, there was a quick stop for dinner.
Looking forward to tomorrow!