We are thrilled to announce the official release of our new CD, Days of Awe and Rejoicing: Radiant Gems of Jewish Music, on September 18. You are invited to a special event at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, where artistic director Jonathan Miller will discuss the music and the ensemble will perform selected songs as a preview. Following the discussion-performance, join the entire ensemble for a reception and CD signing. A copy of the CD is included in the admission to the reception event. Reservations ($50) available only through the Spertus Institute. Seating is limited, so make your reservation today! Call 312.322.1773 or make your reservation online.
Then make plans to hear the entire program at our season-opening concert performances of Days of Awe and Rejoicing: Radiant Gems of Jewish Music (Sept. 25-Oct. 22).
We received an interesting invitation (a sales pitch, really) the other day from an organization called www.realsing.org. Their stated mission is to certify recordings (with gold stickers!) that have been vetted as having had "No Artificial Tuning" on the main vocals. The RealSing Collective asserts as follows: "Real singers, those who don't rely on vocal pitch correction and Auto-tune technology deserve advocates and a means to be identified, elevated and separated from the rest of the imposters. RealSing Collective informs the listening public about the creative and authentic counterpoint to vocal pitch correction, a misleading and now common practice. This should be music to everyone's ears."
My question to you is this: in the classical-music world, would such a certification make any sense? While on the face of it, RealSing has limited relevance to the way Chicago a cappella sings, we thought you might have something to say on the topic. What are your feelings about the advantages and disadvantages auto-tuned vocals, or otherwise "artificially" processed singing on recordings? Let us know what you think, and we'll moderate your replies here. Let us hear from you!
Chicago, Chicago is a new concert program tracing the history of our great city through song. Artistic Director Jonathan Miller provides this sneak preview of the songs included, along with some historical background for each:
I. SETTLING THE "GREAT WEST"
Traditional Fr. Canadian, arr. Miller: C'est l'aviron
This is a song of the French voyageurs who explored the Great Lakes, including what is now Chicago, and traded with Native Americans; it was sung as early as the 1690s and was one of the most popular songs at the settlement of Michilimackinac, now Mackinac Island. The song sings of "going up," which is what they called paddling from "Lower Canada" (Montreal and Toronto, along the St. Lawrence) to "Upper Canada" (points west). Read more about the early fur trade around Chicago.
Traditional, arr. Bustin/Dalglish/Larsen/Miller: Shawneetown
Before Chicago became a huge metropolis, the way most Anglos traveled to Illinois was down the Ohio River, where they would cross at Shawneetown or Shawnee Ferry. This is a folksong from the Ohio Valley, telling people about life on the river, floating down and paddling back up to pursue trade, including the narrator's three women in different ports!
Traditional, arr. Zanzig: El-A-Noy
Like any area wanting to grow, Illinois had its early "boosters," who wrote this song painting an idyllic picture of the state's glories. The verse about the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon visiting the state is hilarious. Read the complete lyrics to El-a-Noy.
II. FIRST-WAVE IMMIGRANTS: BUILDING A CITY
Barry Moore, arr. Nick Page: City of Chicago
The Irish immigrants came in waves following the Great Potato Famine. This is a recent folksong about the Irish coming to Chicago and what they endured, both on the journey and when they got here.
Johannes Brahms: Die Wollust in den Maien
Germans were one of the major immigrant groups in Chicago's early history. This is a song that would likely have been performed by their many singing societies.
III. CIVIL WAR AND SLAVERY
Spiritual, arr. Allan Koepke: Follow the drinking gourd
The Chicago area, including Maywood and Graue Mill in what is now Hinsdale, were stops on the Underground Railroad. This is a slave song/spiritual that helped to tell runaway slaves how to get across the Ohio River to freedom.
Arr. Anne Heider: Lincoln and Liberty
Abe Lincoln's 1860 campaign featured this charming political song, which refers to Illinois residents as "suckers"—describing their migratory patterns of work, not calling them chumps! See the Wigwam, site of the 1860 convention that nominated Lincoln.
IV. THE GREAT FIRE, THE GREAT EXPOSITION AND THE GREAT MIGRATION
George F. Root: Passing Through the Fire
Chicago became a center of music publishing even before the Great Fire, and George Root was both a composer and a hugely successful publisher. He wrote this sentimental ballad while the city was in mourning and recovering from the Fire of 1871.
Samuel Ward and Katharine Lee Bates, arr. Deke Sharon: America the Beautiful
As the city emerged into greatness, this song became an emblem of national pride; the verse about "alabaster cities' gleam" refers to the White City in the Columbian Exposition of 1892-93.
Norworth and Von Tilzer, arr. Anne Heider: Take me out to the ballgame
People gotta have fun! This jaunty setting by Anne Heider incorporates all of Jack Norworth's original lyrics. Root for the Cubbies!
V. BUILDING A CITY
Jerry Troxell, text of Carl Sandburg: Prayers of Steel
Carl Sandburg wrote odes to skyscrapers, and Jerry Troxell's haunting composition perfectly illuminates Sandburg's awe at beholding the stark urban beauty of Chicago's new downtown area.
Fred Fisher, arr. Miller: Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)
The great tune popularized by Sinatra gets a new a cappella setting here, including all of the original words.
VI. LIFE IN THE "SECOND CITY"
Lovie Austin, arr. J. Miller: Chicago Bound Blues
Chicago has become synonymous with the blues. This is a song made popular by Bessie Smith, in a new a cappella version, the lament of a woman left behind in Mississippi.
Thomas Dorsey, arr. Sevier: Precious Lord
In the 1930s, Thomas A. Dorsey created gospel music, and this is his most famous song, in a stunning arrangement by Chicago's own Arnold Sevier.
Traditional Mexican, arr. Deke Sharon: La Bamba
The large Mexican-American community in Chicago began to grow in earnest after 1910. "La Bamba" is one of the songs that has been sung here since concerts by Mexicans in Chicago began.
Al Capone, arr. Sinozich: Madonna Mia
You won't find this anywhere else in town—the only song that Al Capone ever wrote! He wrote it in Alcatraz, apparently as a love song to his wife. A Chicago a cappella original arrangement!
VII. FUN AND GAMES
Jerry Downs (Al Hoffman), arr. J. Miller: Bear Down, Chicago Bears
The great fight song, in celebration of the Bears' most recent success, making it to the playoffs in early 2011.
Lamm, arr. Herberg: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
The band Chicago was a huge success in the 1970s, and this is one of their most famous songs, in a new a cappella arrangement.
Mancini/Bricusse, arr. Sinozich: “Chicago, Illinois” (from Victor/Victoria)
The film (and later stage) musical starring Julie Andrews featured this boisterous celebration of the city "Chic."
Join us April 1-10, 2011, for this remarkable musical tour of The Windy City! Tickets and information.
We know Chicago a cappella audiences and friends are creative folks: singers, artists, chefs, designers, arts professionals, and architects. If you engage in a creative activity for as a job or a hobby, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events wants to hear from you. Take this brief survey, and help them learn more about what the City can do to foster creativity. Your participation will provide a crucial benchmark with which to measure the future growth of our creative economy and community.
They’d like to hear from every creative Chicagoan, so pass the word on to your friends and colleagues. But hurry, the suvey is open only until February 28.
Take the Creative Chicago Survey.
We sadly bid farewell to our dear friend Bob Fashingbauer, who passed away December 5 in Chicago. We were lucky to be one of the many organizations that benefited from Bob's tireless work as a volunteer usher for the Saints and the classical music coordinator for that organization. This past May, we honored Bob and the Saints with our Friend of the Year award. Read our tribute.
Thank you, friend.
We have selected the theme for next spring’s benefit event, and it’s one you won’t want to miss: Simply Sinatra. Chicago a cappella will sing great a cappella arrangements of standards made famous by Ol’ Blue Eyes. And you’ll enjoy wine, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and the glory of the Chicago Cultural Center’s Tiffany dome and fabulous mosaic. It all takes place Thursday, May 12, 2011. Save the date!
Tickets will be available soon, and we’ll let you know when they go on sale. In the meantime, we’re planning the set list! Post a comment below to let us know your favorite Sinatra tune.
Holidays a cappella will include music from around the world and from many different styles and traditions. We like all of it so much, it’s hard to choose an encore! Something fun and upbeat? Meditative and inspiring? A new showpiece? An old favorite?
Help us out by giving us your ideas…you just might have a hand in programming the concert!
For some ideas, you can listen to some audio samples here, and read more details about the program in the press release. Then post a comment below with your suggestion for the encore!
Chicago a cappella has launched a new Program Development and Recording Fund, a project that will support the ensemble’s concert productions, new recordings, and commissions of new works. We have received a lead gift of $250,000 from the Klaff Family Foundation, as the major step toward our goal of raising $500,000 by end of our 20th season in 2013. We are thrilled by this opportunity to secure our organization's future. Read more about it in this press release.
Chicago a cappella unveiled its new logo on May 20, the day before its brand new website was launched. Together, the logo and website mark a new chapter for the ensemble, providing a fresh look and a clean, easy-to-use online experience. The site features dozens of free audio samples as well as video, online ticketing and donation functions. The entire project was supported by a grant from the Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development and carried out by the team at Mightybytes, Inc. Special thanks to ensemble member Kathryn Kamp and website manager Chris Baer, whose expertise guided the project. We hope you enjoy our new look and have fun exploring our new site!
Thank you to everyone who made our gala benefit event on May 20, Some Enchanted Evening, such a wonderful success. Our guests enjoyed beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, along with hors d'oeuvres from Whole Foods, wines from House Red, desserts from Give Me Some Sugah, and a fabulous silent auction and raffle, all under the Tiffany dome of the Chicago Cultural Center. It was truly a grand night for singing!