19, November 2008 § Leave a comment
I am from outside of Cleveland, Ohio and I am a junior from Dartmouth College majoring in Classical Studies and European History. After spending the past calendar year with a full academic load, I chose to take the fall quarter off from school and try something completely new. The Aegean Center Italy & Greece program gives me the opportunity to combine my current academic interests with the fine arts, which I have not studied since high school. I am taking courses in digital photography, basic camera usage, photo history, Greek art history, Greek literature, Greek language, and Greek dancing.
Throughout high school and college I have been involved in vocal performance in school choruses, church choirs, and an all female a cappella group. I am particularly lucky here and get to continue singing this fall with the Aegean Center Vocal Ensemble. The Vocal Ensemble is comprised of five students and nine Paros residents. While we were in Italy, Orfeas, the Ensemble’s director, worked with the new students on some of the basic technique we would need once we joined the rest of the ensemble in Greece. These lessons included work on vowel pronunciation, breathing technique, and blending our sound.
The Ensemble practices twice a week, for two and a half hours at a time, preparing our repertoire for the winter concert. During the second week of December, we will perform our concert for the public once in Naoussa and twice in Paroikia. The program includes four Medieval church songs, seven French Renaissance court songs, and three contemporary pieces. We are expected to learn the basics of our music on our own so that we do not waste rehearsal time reviewing basic intervals and parts.
Each rehearsal begins with a 30-minute warm up of physical and vocal exercises. These often focus on more than just our pitch, such as our ability to blend as a group and make one, uniform sound. We then fine tune our songs, focusing on dynamics (when to sing louder vs more softly) and on memorizing. Our Wednesday rehearsals are spent doing run-thrus of the entire concert. It has been great to hear not just the group pieces, but the many solos, duets and trios that are part of the repertoire. Another student, Emily Oglesby, and I are performing a French Renaissance court song as a duet, and singing it in front of the group each week will hopefully help me get all the nervousness out of my system before December.
The Vocal Ensemble is definitely a lot of work, but the atmosphere of rehearsals is also a lot of fun, and not simply intense. It is a great opportunity to meet and interact with more Paros residents then we might otherwise, and there is always some time during rehearsal to laugh at something ridiculous that someone says or does. The Ensemble is a great way to work toward a final product that is very different from what we are producing with our studio work, and I can not wait to see, or rather hear, how all of our hard work pays off at the concerts.
4, June 2008 § Leave a comment
From the upcoming July issue of Paros Life:
After more than half a decade of twice yearly choral concerts, Maestro Orfeas had stimulated in many of us an almost Pavlovian response: it is the end of the season, the angels are gathering, time for a concert. It may be a miracle that there is a chorus singing the greatest a cappella music on little Paros, but for music lovers here it has become a component of our cultural wellbeing, a June wedding with beauty.
11, May 2008 § Leave a comment
It is always busy at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, but the Spring 2008 session at the Center has been particularly animated. There have been visiting artists, guests, alumni, readings, performances and presentations. Here is a short post to recap some of the events of the session so far and some of the activities to come.
Starting in mid-March, 2005-2006 alumni Maria-Elena and Gabriel’s former tutor Brett arrived. Maria-Elena gave a stirring solo performance for an assembled audience of faculty, students and friends of the center.
Also in March, visiting professors Peter Abbs and Lisa Dart made their regular visit to the “Academy” (as Peter likes to call the Aegean Center) and gave a joint poetry reading featuring recent and older works. Peter also read poems to be featured in John and Peter’s upcoming exhibition The Greater Journey in Canterbury this September.
Greek Easter came late (April 27) and with it the arrival of many guests. Close Aegean Center friend John Van Buren was the first to arrive bringing with him some welcome warm, spring weather. John enjoyed works in progress in the studios, sat in on vocal performances from the ensemble, and ate his fair share of delicious tzatziki. John also brought two old friends to the Center, Wyoming Poet Laureate and musician David Romtvedt and ceramist and gallery director Margot Brown, David’s wife. David gave two performances, one a selection of poems and the other a musical performance. Playing his button accordion and accompanied by Margot on percussion, David gave an interesting and rousing performance of various folks music of the Americas. Margot gave a presentation of her artwork, as well as pieces from artists represented at her gallery.
During the same week visiting photographer Marion Patterson, a student and colleague of Ansel Adams, gave an enthralling presentation of her life as a photographer, and displayed the work featured in her book Grains of Sand. After the presentation Marian graciously went out with photo students to and together they shot photographs of the Paros landscape.
Other visitors were 2001-2002 alumni Anne-Meade and spring 2002 alumni Arial. Next week will see a presentation by philosopher Warwick Fox. Later in May the Center will feature poets Christopher Merrill, director of the Iowa University’s International Writers’ Program, and Adrianne Kalfpoulou. Aegean Center alum and exhibiting photographer Holly Lynton will come to show her work as well.
Meanwhile, the students are all hard at work as the session is beginning to wind down. Next up, the vocal perfomances (ensemble and solo), followed by the Student Reading, to be followed by the Student Exhibition, concluding this wonderfully busy and animated spring session.
-by Jun-Pierre Shiozawa