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QVS's Brand-New Christmas CD



Fans of the Quinebaug Valley Singers, those who bought the chorus's Spring/Summer CD I'll Fly Away, and anyone who loves Christmas choral music and appreciates diverse and original programming on a Christmas CD will be excited to learn that the chorus has just released its first professionally-produced holiday disc.  The full track list appears below.  

There are plenty of Christmas favorites here, of course; but there's also a fine Hanukkah piece (Peter Yarrow's "Light one candle"), and there are less familiar works from countries as diverse as Germany, France, and Kenya ("African Noel").  Genres range from pop ("White Christmas," in a spectacular arrangement with two pianists and chimes) to folk (the Breton piece "Joyful Mysteries") to classical ("And the glory of the Lord" from Handel's Messiah, in a quicksilver, dance-like performance) to black gospel (the rockin' "O Mary")--and more.

There's music for the Advent season ("The angel Gabriel," from the Basque region of southwest France), for contemplation (Morten Lauridsen's haunting "O magnum mysterium"), and for nostalgic reflection ("Have yourself a merry little Christmas").  The compositions take us into that Bethlehem manger on Christmas Eve, up into the hills where the shepherds keep watch over their flocks, and into the night skies where the star guiding the three kings shines so brightly.  

In all, there are seventeen choral pieces on the disc, and a wonderful bonus: a ten-minute piano improvisation on three of the songs by QVS accompanist Brooks Milgate.  Those who have heard Milgate's brilliant piano playing at QVS concerts will know what a treat they're in for here.  

Brightest and Best is truly a cornucopia of Christmas choral delights.  It will put you right into the Christmas mood--all the best Christmas moods--magic, anticipation, coziness, devotion, peacefulness, sheer excitement.  And it's the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family.  The CD costs only $10, and may be purchased from QVS Music Director Nym Cooke (please add $2 per copy for a padded envelope and postage).  Send your address and a check made out to Quinebaug Valley Singers to Nym at 290 Wine Road, New Braintree, Massachusetts 01531.

If you wish to purchase your copy/ies of the CD in person, without the added charge for postage etc., there will be copies available at the chorus's two Christmas concerts: at St. Joachim Chapel, St. Anne/St. Patrick Parish in Fiskdale on Saturday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m., and at the Charlton Baptist Church on Sunday, December 10 at 3 p.m. 



QVS during the recording of "Brightest and Best" - January 28, 2017


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Spring 2018


The Quinebaug Valley Singers, one of this area's largest and liveliest community choruses, is preparing a knockout program for their spring concerts.  It's titled "How Can I Keep from Singing," after the great Quaker hymn, which the group will sing in a thrilling arrangement accompanied by virtuoso keyboardist Brooks Milgate.  The concerts will happen at the St. Joachim Chapel, St. Anne / St. Patrick Parish, corner of routes 20 and 148 in Fiskdale, Mass. (Saturday, May 19th at 7:30 p.m.) and at the Evangelical Covenant Church just off the common in Woodstock, Conn. (Sunday, May 20th at 3:00 p.m.).  Both concerts are free, with a freewill offering collected before intermission.  And both venues are fully handicap-accessible.


Many of the pieces on this Spring's roster have a hymn-like or anthemic quality, and all of them celebrate life, rebirth, spring, or nature in some way.  The stylistic range is vast: from the delightful and carefully crafted 17th-century English round "Hey ho, to the greenwood" to the inspired cinematic pop of Elton John's "Circle of Life"; from Toby Tate's delicate setting of an Emily Dickinson poem, "To make a prairie," to the Gaelic hymn "Morning has broken"; from Pete Seeger's wonderful setting of the Book of Ecclesiastes' "To everything there is a season" ("Turn! Turn! Turn!") to the African American declaration "I feel like goin' on" (with its rapid-fire alto part, in Ysaye Barnwell's arrangement); from the lilt and innocence of "Spring Has Come" (1582) to the gritty yet affirmative "Seasons of Love" from Jonathan Larson's musical Rent (1995).  And there is much more diversity than even these examples suggest.

This is one of those concert programs where chorus members--and likely many in the audience as well--may be hard pressed to identify a single favorite song.  Is it Marty Haugen's joyfully solemn processional hymn, "Sing Out, Earth and Skies," with flute, organ-stop bells, finger cymbals, and tambourine accompanying the chorus?  Is it John Clements's evocative and romantic little "Flower of Beauty," directed sensitively and with a sure hand by chorus member Johanna Chernisky?  Is it the tune of the wonderful Finnish national anthem "Finlandia," setting stirring words (by Lloyd Stone) that begin "This is my song, O God of all the nations"?  Or is it John Rutter's captivatingly beautiful music in "For the beauty of the earth" (whose performance is dedicated to the memory of former QVS member Janet Farrell)?  Come and be entertained by some top-notch choral singing, and make up your own mind as to your favorites!

For further information about this concert, about becoming a Friend of QVS, or anything else relating to the chorus, folks are encouraged to email Nym Cooke (nymcooke@gmail.com) or QVS President KT Therrien (Kt2nc@aol.com). For more information about joining QVS, read on!  


JOINING AND SINGING WITH QVS

            The Quinebaug Valley Singers will begin rehearsing for their Spring 2018 concerts on Monday, February 5th at 7 p.m. in St. Anne's church at the corner of routes 20 and 148 in Fiskdale (Sturbridge), MA.  Just show up--we meet every Monday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Anne's--and you'll be given a packet of music, and be seated with other jolly singers of your vocal part.  

            QVS dues are modest--just $30 per singer per season.  Singers are asked to commit to attending as many rehearsals as possible, with a maximum number of two absences.  Individual vocal parts for almost all the pieces are accessible to chorus members on the Internet, and recordings of rehearsals are regularly posted as well.  Don't worry if you can't read music; many QVSers learn by ear.  QVS rehearsals and performances are scent-free events, as some of our members have allergies.