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Salisbury Singers launch weekly rehearsals online with music, education and guest speakers

Telegram & Gazette Staff

WORCESTER — The Salisbury Singers will be welcoming all who are interested in singing to their Monday night meetings this fall.

Usually the acclaimed choral group rehearses Monday nights at a local church in preparation for an upcoming concert. But with the coronavirus pandemic and no live in-person performances likely until next year, the fall meetings are going to be online with a different format, said Bradford T. Dumont, music director of the Salisbury Singers.

The choral group has a long-term goal of bringing in new members, and the fall program beginning Sept. 21 will be a good time to explore that, he said. “We want to welcome anyone who wants to take part.”

The fall Mondays will be a “Season of Singing,” with each week featuring a variety of content, including guest speakers, conversations, musical events, sight-reading and more alongside regular warm-ups and open sings. Each session will run for 75 minutes every Monday night, from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m.

Guest speakers will include Anthony Trecek-King, director of Choral Activities and associate professor at The Hartt School in Hartford, Connecticut, and Jace Saplan, director of Choral Activities and assistant professor of music at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and director of the Nā Wai Chamber Choir. Alternating weeks will be focused on progressive sight singing and vocal technique.

Dumont was named the new music director of the Salisbury Singers this past spring, succeeding Michelle Graveline, who stepped down as artistic director after 22 successful seasons at the conclusion of 2019-20 and is now artistic director emerita.

What was supposed to have been Gravline’s farewell concert, a performance of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” in Mechanics Hall on May 3, had to be canceled, but there are hopes of honoring Graveline with a performance in the spring.

Dumont, who was associate conductor of the Salisbury Singers last season, leads the Salisbury Singers into their 47th season this fall in unprecedented fashion.

“It’s an interesting way to start off as music director of the Salisbury Singers,” he said. “I’m glad we get to do this and I’m looking forward to music making when we can.” There about 80 members of the Salisbury Singers at present. A survey indicated that while some members are ready and willing to rehearse/perform in-person this fall, a large number are not and so the decision was made to put together the online program.

“Whatever we do we want to involve all the Salisbury Singers,” Dumont said.

Meanwhile, “Our goal this fall is to support anyone who feels they want to sing. We want everyone to feel that they can join.” Furthermore, people don’t need to feel that they have to be at every Monday session, Dumont said. Singers can attend throughout the season based on availability and personal interest. Newcomers can attend the online sessions for free, although a drop-in fee of $10 is suggested.

Looking ahead, Dumont said he would like to resume in-person rehearsals in February, and return to performing in March or April. Besides a concert honoring Graveline, Dumont is looking at a concert “that kind of reflects what quarantine and isolation feels like.” The “Season of Singing” schedule is as follows.

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Sept. 21. Welcome, Discussion, Group Sing: Group-led singing via Zoom as well as some social time to connect with singers across the organization. “This will be a great time to ask questions about the semester and get back in the swing of Salisbury Singers. New members are encouraged and we hope that returning singers will invite a friend!” Sept. 28. Healthy Singing Techniques with Margaret M. Tartaglia: A refresher course to promote healthy vocal technique led by Tartaglia, an acclaimed singer as well as a Certified Singing Voice Specialist and McClosky Institute of Voice Master Teacher. Oct. 5. Empowering Songs — Trish Jonason and Bradford T. Dumont: Salisbury Singers member Jonason and Dumont will talk about their work with music in spaces of healing and empowerment including Jonason’s work as a hospital music therapist and Dumont’s work leading song communities in psychiatric rehabilitation and incarceration. This session will show by example the unique power that music has to offer comfort and change in life.

Oct. 19. Progressive Sight Singing and Vocal Technique #1

Oct. 26. The Choral Music of Hawaii. Jace Saplan joins the Salisbury Singers for an evening discussing the intersection of Hawaiian musical culture and choral music. The Nā Wai Chamber Choir is a professional vocal ensemble based in Hawaii dedicated to the preservation and propagation of Hawaiian choral music.

Nov. 2. Progressive Sight Singing and Vocal Technique #2

Nov. 9. Exploring Elijah — Michelle Graveline and Jim Demler: Graveline and guest artist Jim Demler discuss and explore Mendelssohn’s Elijah, which was to be Graveline’s final performance as artistic director of the Salisbury Singers. Demler was to have taken on the role of Elijah in the performance.

Nov. 16. Progressive Sight Singing and Vocal Technique #3

Nov. 23. Equity and the Choral Art — Dr. Anthony Trecek-King: Trecek-King leads a session on choral equity and inclusion for a combined group of ensembles from across Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Nov. 30. Progressive Sight Singing and Vocal Technique #4

Dec. 7. Holiday Sing and Salisbury Singers Talent Show

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