In November 2019, when Ash Walker applied to become the music director of Pacific Edge Voices, he was full of ideas for taking the acclaimed Berkeley choral group—originally called Pacific Mozart Ensemble—beyond its 40th anniversary and into an exciting and creative future. By the time his appointment was officially announced, in August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had upended his—and the world’s—plans. Ash has risen to the unprecedented challenge in this new job and in his other roles: as professor of voice at Las Positas Community College in Livermore and as cantor and choir director at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption in San Francisco. As he told us in a phone interview, “The pandemic has pushed me to be more than I thought possible as a musician and choral director.”
This post is by AMN founder Lolly Lewis
How quaint it sounds now, although it was only a year ago when I wrote a New Year’s greeting that celebrated upcoming workshops and our Orchestra Fantasy Camp project:
“Our 2020 vision: a musical year for all. We at AMN hope that you find even more joy in playing and singing in the new decade.”
It’s the grateful time of year.
Despite how hard we musicians have been hit by the pandemic, Amateur Music Network has a lot to be grateful for. We’ve moved into online workshops, and we’re grateful that we can provide a path for the music community to come together, stay musically active, and share our love of music-making.
We have a treat in store for amateur choral singers: On six Saturdays beginning November, Amateur Music Network will host Singing Saturdays with Ragnar Bohlin, featuring music by Mozart, Bach, Brahms, and Handel, as well as holiday favorites. One singer who’ll be eagerly participating is soprano Abigail Millikan-States of Corte Madera, California, who told us: “Choral singing is my greatest passion, and it’s truly an honor as an amateur singer to have the opportunity to work with Ragnar.” We asked Abigail to tell us more about singing on- and offline.
AMN early music workshops featured in SF Classical Voice!
We were pleased to see this in-depth coverage of our Early Music for Modern Instruments series. SFCV’s article conveyed the adventure we hoped our community of musicians could travel, learning how to incorporate stylistic elements of “historically informed performance” into their playing for repertoire of the Baroque and Classical periods.