How would you describe what you do as an artistic director for ORC?
You are currently preparing a concert of Ukrainian music for a joint performance by the Burlington Choral Society and Onion River Chorus. What can audiences expect?Riley: “My orientation is the preparation of the music so, by concert time, all the singers feel like they truly know in a way that will make them excited to share it with an audience. In this particular program, that we’re preparing now of Ukrainian music, there are 19 different pieces in this program, which is just mind boggling to consider. The thing that makes this particular program quite unique is that the Ukrainian choral tradition, of which there truly is one, many more of the pieces are unaccompanied than are accompanied, and many of them are relatively short because they are folk music or they’re church music. … We have a good number from the folk music tradition, the sacred music tradition, and a couple of new pieces that were written especially for the Ukrainian choral tradition this year.”
What excites you about the Spring program?Riley: “There’s a very strong folk music tradition from Ukraine and a strong sacred music tradition. And I’m incredibly excited about the two new pieces that we’re going to do, because both of them were written for the reality of what Ukraine is experiencing this year. And that makes the reference to music from centuries ago all the more interesting. Then the music from a long time ago can be compared with the music that was written this year, because of what’s been happening in Ukraine.”
What is your vision for this organization’s future programming?Riley: “Onion River Chorus is not auditioned and that has been part of the miracle of what it has been for so many singers in this area for so many years. Larry did not want to have a group that had any barriers to anyone participating. If they wanted to participate, they just needed to come and become immersed in the concerts. Immersion for someone who wasn’t auditioned meant coming to a lot of rehearsals. … for Larry it was just being together, doing music together. That was what engaged him, independently. What Onion River became is a chorus where many people came to be engaged with Larry over a long number of rehearsals to produce a concert that extended everybody’s experience, even past what they thought was possible, just because they had the guts to do it. And that’s a tradition that I very much hope I can keep alive and well.” Onion River Chorus and Burlington Choral Society will present “Deep in Song,” music from and to Ukraine, at 7:30 p.m. on April 15, at the Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester, and April 16, at 4 p.m. at Montpelier High School. Tickets are available at sevendaystickets.com and at the door. Adult tickets $25; 18 and under free.
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