John Rommereim, director
The Grinnell Singers are a select ensemble that performs distinguished choral music from a wide variety of traditions, with repertoire that spans five centuries, from renaissance motets, to the music of today. They have an ambitious year planned for 2012-2013. Highlights include: hosting one of Cuba's foremost choirs, Schola Cantorum Coralina, performing Carol Barnett's Bluegrass Mass with the string band Monroe Crossing, a Spring-Break tour to Chicago, Ann Arbor, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and New York, and April performances of Orff's Carmina Burana.
The ensemble regularly performs works by its members, and a number of students in the ensemble have gone on to careers as composers. We were proud to see that a work by Grinnell Singers alum Jisoo Ben Kim '08, for example, was recently performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The Grinnell Singers premiered this work while Ben was a student at Grinnell; the Grinnell Singers recording helped to facilitate the publication of this piece with Earthsongs. This year, they will be performing yet-to-be-written works by our Composer-In Residence, Michael Maiorana '12. In February, they will also be presenting "Think Global, Sing Local: Home-Grown music and music from the far-flung Grinnell family." -- a concert that highlights music of Grinnell students and alumni. In previous years, the ensemble has commissioned several major composers. In 2006, the Singers commissioned an extended work from the 2005 Pulitzer Award winner, Steven Stucky. The Grinnell Singers received a grant from the Meet the Composers foundation for this commission, in a consortium of professional choirs that included the Kansas City Chorale, the Phoenix Bach Choir, and the Seattle Pro Musica. The Grinnell Singers' 2012 season featured the premiere of a commissioned work, "Anything Can Happen," by Mohammed Fairouz. In pursuing this project, the ensemble formed a consortium with three of the country's most distinguished choirs: the Back Bay Chorale and the Marsh Chapel Choir of Boston, Scott Jarrett, Conductor, and Cantori New York, Mark Shapiro, Conductor. An Iowa Public Radio piece on this commission project is available in streaming audio. The entire work can also be viewed on You Tube
In 1994 and 2002, the Grinnell Singers were honored with invitations to regional ACDA conventions. In 2000, the choir traveled to Helsinki, Turku, Talinn, St. Petersburg, Prague, and Brno in a tour that included a full cappella program, as well as another separate concert of Beethoven's Mass in C and the premiere of John Rommereim's Utopia with the Prague Radio Orchestra. In 2006, they completed a concert tour of Romania, Bulgaria, again with an a cappella program as well as a separate choral/orchestral program of Mozart's Grand Mass in C Minor. In April of 2011, the Grinnell Singers worked with the renowned conductor Simon Carrington during a week-long residency, culminating in a conducting master class and concert. In May, 2011, they completed a recording titled "Sacred Love," which will be released later this year.
In the spring of 2012, the Grinnell Singers participated in performances of Sacred Concerts, a remarkable work by the great jazz master, Duke Ellington, in collaboration with the Grinnell Jazz Ensemble. In the 2012-13 season, we are delighted to continue this exploration of works that blur the lines between traditions, as we present The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass, by Carol Barnett, in collaboration with an outstanding string band from Minneapolis, Monroe Crossing. In a few short years since its premiere in 2008, this unique work has already become one of the most treasured pieces in the choral repertory. As the composer says, it brings "the solemnity of the classical-based Mass together with the down-home sparkle of bluegrass." On November 7, the Grinnell Singers will be hosting Schola Cantorum Coralina, Alina Orraca, conductor. This is an exceedingly rare opportunity to hear one of Cuba's finest professional choirs. The 21 singers of the choir will be in Grinnell for three days (including November 6, the day of the presidential election), and they will be hosted in local homes. Looking ahead to the spring, they will be performing Carl Orff's spectacular Carmina Burana, in collaboration with the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra and the Ottumwa Symphony, under the direction of Eric McIntyre.
View The Grinnell Singers on YouTube
"Sacred Love" by Georgy Sviridov
Graciela Guzman, Soprano
The Grinnell Singers
John Rommereim, conductor
"Anything Can Happen", by Mohammed Fairouz
"Anything Can Happen" by M. Fairouz; 1st mov't