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October 03, 2013 - Image 42

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-10-03

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arts & entertainment

Orchestra Of Voices

Chanticleer performs original
interpretations of the vocal literature
— from Renaissance to jazz.


Suzanne Chessler
Contributing Writer


t's been two years since Stacy Garrop
accepted a commission to compose a
piece for Chanticleer, and she plans on
attending two of this season's choral con-
certs that include her music.
Garrop composed
"Give Me Hunger" for
.. the She Said/He Said
program, which will be
presented Wednesday
,,...] evening, Oct. 9, at the
Berman Center for
the Performing Arts
Composer in West Bloomfield
Stacy Garrop
and Thursday evening,
Oct. 10, at St. Francis
of Assisi Church in
Ann Arbor, where it is sponsored by the
University Musical Society.
Garrop, who lives outside Chicago, will
travel closer to home as she goes to perfor-
mances in Grand Rapids and Joliet.
"Jace Wittig, the interim music director,
said they were going to have a program
about the female point of view versus the
male point of view, and he wanted me
to research some texts about love for the
work I would be doing" Garrop explains
during a phone conversation from her

"I work with texts anyway, and I
checked out a few poets I particularly like.
I found a poem, 'Out a Window' by Carl
Sandburg, and it took me several attempts
to set the words to music.
"The piece starts off with an aggres-
sive, angry ranting choir singing about the
worst of the world and switches to beauti-
ful, hopeful sounds about being left with a
little love."
Chanticleer, referred to as an "orches-
tra of voices" is a 12-member, all-male,
a cappella group interpreting vocal lit-
erature reaching from the times of the
Renaissance to modern jazz.
Vocal ranges span countertenor to bass
as a variety of musical styles — including
works by Felix Mendelssohn and Cole Porter
— enter into the mix of She Said/He Said.
"I love the sound of the countertenor
(male sopranos and altos)" says Garrop,
43, first recipient of the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra's Elaine Lebenbom Memorial
Award, granted annually to a living female
"Part of my wanting to write for
Chanticleer was to have a group sing that
high. The ranges are slightly different from
female ranges so I received a list of every
singer's range. Once I had that chart, I
could write very specifically for that choir.
"Pieces for choir tend to be more tonal
because they don't have an instrument

The Grammy-winning Chanticleer features a seamless blend of 12 male voices —
from countertenor to bass.

feeding them pitches. Singers have to be
able to relate one pitch to another and
quickly find their way through a piece.
Instrumentalists just pluck down a finger
and off they go"
The San Francisco-based, Grammy-
winning ensemble marks its 36th season
in 2013-14, performing nationally in 23
states and in nine European countries.
Garrop, who grew up in California
celebrating Jewish traditions, enjoyed par-
ticipating in choirs and marching bands
before a high school teacher suggested she
try music composition.
She went on to get three degrees in
that field — a bachelor's at the University
of Michigan, a master's at the University
of Chicago and a doctorate at Indiana
"I spent a year writing music at different
artists' colonies and then got a job teach-
ing at Roosevelt University in downtown
Chicago, where I've been for 13 years"
Garrop says. "During my years of teaching,
I've also been writing pretty steadily for
orchestras, choirs and chamber ensembles.
"I wrote a 15-minute piece to win the
cash prize that goes with the Lebenbom

honor, which also had the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra playing it four times. From
that, I got a commission from the Albany
Symphony and added two more movements
to the piece. I'm completing the last two
movements as it becomes a symphony"
The composer has returned to Michigan
over the years to hear her pieces per-
formed by other groups. She has set Jewish
texts to music for an a cappella group in
"I grew up hearing about Chanticleer
because the ensemble is from California:
she says. "It was wonderful having them
contact me about this new commission:' ❑

Chanticleer will perform at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Berman
Center for the Performing Arts in
West Bloomfield. $62 JCC members;
$67 nonmembers. (248) 661-1900;
theberman.org .
The group next takes the stage at
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at St.
Francis of Assisi Church, 2250 E.
Stadium Blvd., in Ann Arbor. $45-
$55. (734) 764-2538; ums.org .

The Sisters Rosensweig

Ronelle Grier
Contributing Writer


25th anniversary is no small
achievement, and Jewish
Ensemble Theatre commemo-
rates this occasion with a worthy sea-
son opener: The Sisters Rosensweig, an
award-winning 1993 play by the late and
extremely talented Wendy Wasserstein.
Directed by JET Artistic Director David
J. Magidson, the play centers on a reunion
between three Jewish sisters: Sara Goode
(Sandra Birch), the eldest and a successful
foreign banker; "Dr." Gorgeous Teitelbaum
(Emily Rose), a Massachusetts housewife,
mother and popular call-in radio talk-
show host; and Pfeni (Kristin Condon), the
youngest and a globe-trotting journalist with
a mortal fear of putting down roots.
The play is set in the London home of
Sara, who has invited her sisters to celebrate
her 54th birthday. A divorcee who has done
everything possible to escape her New York


October 3 • 2013

Jewish upbringing, Sara describes herself as
"cold and bitter; though her underlying ten-
derness manages to seep through her crusty
exterior as the story progresses.
When the play opens, Sara is at odds
with her teenage daughter, Tess (Madison
Deadman), a beautiful and
strong-headed girl determined
to follow her spiky-haired boy-
friend, Tom (Eric Eilersen), to
join a political protest in Lithuania.
The sisters are joined by a quirky assort-
ment of gentlemen callers: Geoffrey Duncan
(Lindel Salow), a successful director who
is Pfeni's sporadic paramour; Mervyn Kant
(Phil Powers), a New York Jewish furrier
who bravely displays his ethnic heritage and
his interest in Sara; and Nicholas Pym (John
Forman), a stuffy Brit and Sara's rather
unenthusiastic love interest.
Over the course of a weekend, the char-
acters explore their lives and relationships
through a series of funny and poignant
moments. The stellar script and skillful

direction make for well-paced
scenes and perfectly timed
and delivered one-liners.
While each actor is out-
standing in his/her distinct
role, their interplay enhances
each personality
First row: John Forman, Sandra Birch, Lindel Salow;
and makes their
second row: Madison Deadman, Kristin Condon;
singular and col-
lective stories even third row: Emily Rose, Eric Eilersen, Phil Powers.
more compelling.
The play touches on some universal
Designer Mathew Lira. Costumes by Mary
themes: the ties that bind families together
Copenhagen help make each character come
despite age-old rivalries and disparate lives,
alive — from Mervyn Kant's outlandish
the complexities of romantic love, mother-
purple dress shirt to the Chanel suit, with
daughter relationships, and the struggle
accessories, that Gorgeous receives as a gift
of accomplished middle-aged women to
and immediately dons onstage. ❑
reconcile the roles they have chosen with the
expectations instilled during childhood.
JET presents The Sisters
The set (by Jennifer Maiseloff), props (by
Rosensweig through Oct. 20 at the
Diane Ulseth) and lighting (by Neil Koivu)
Jewish Community Center in West
combine to depict Sara's elegant home with
Bloomfield. Info and tickets: (248)
depth and detail. Sinatra tunes and other
788-2900; www.jettheatre.org .
musical background are provided by Sound


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