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Community Vocal and Choral Music Workshops

Family Sing 2022 with Valérie Sainte-Agathe

Valérie talks about bringing the Martiniquan tradition of Chante Noel to our family and yours!

Join us for our second annual FAMILY SING holiday sing-along with the world-renowned San Francisco Girls Chorus!

SFGC Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe will lead the in-person and online choirs in holiday favorites and new-to-us music that will warm our hearts during the holiday season. Invite your family and friends to attend at the Kanbar Center for the Performing Arts in San Francisco, or sing together online. This is a great way to connect with loved ones who live far away! Invite family and friends from wherever they are to join via Zoom and let the joy of singing together kick off the holiday season. 

Attend online or in-person at Kanbar Center
44 Page Street, San Francisco

IN PERSON: Adults $25, youth ages 10-18 $12.50
IN-PERSON FAMILY PACKAGE: Bring the whole family for $50
ONLINE ONLY: $15

Categories
Chamber Music Jazz and Beyond - Non-Classical Music Vocal and Choral Music Workshops

The magic of singing together

Anyone who has sung in a vocal group or a chorus knows the feeling: something is just special when we sing together. There’s a marvelous sense of reaching out, of connecting with other voices to make a sound that is more than just our single notes, a sound that merges and grows, with multiple melodies blending into a harmonious whole. Whether it’s a circle of friends singing folk music in our living room or professional singers in a concert ensemble, it’s that elemental joining of voices that, for me, brings emotion to the fore.

We’re so in luck to have Dashon Burton back with us on October 16 to lead a master class on ensemble singing. Dashon is an acclaimed soloist who is equally practiced in singing with others: He is part of Roomful of Teeth and Kaleidoscope, two of the top vocal groups working today!

I can’t wait to get Dashon’s perspective on the singing of two groups in our master class: the Drew School Singers who will sing the luminous 16th century madrigal O Occhi Manza Mia by Orlando di Lasso, and the women’s choir Conspiracy of Venus who will sing A Place Called Home by rock goddess PJ Harvey.

I caught up with Conspiracy of Venus founder and leader Joyce McBride to chat about the group and about her musical path writing and arranging choral music. Music is so much about connecting, about blending our minds and sounds into one. It’s what we aspire to in life as well as in music, don’t you think?

Enjoy the interview and then join us for Dashon Burton’s vocal chamber music master class workshop on October 16!

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AMN mentors Chamber Music Jazz and Beyond - Non-Classical Music Workshops

Destiny Muhammad and the Jazz Conversation

There’re still conversations in … music that are still alive. And so in this new millennium, what do I have to say as a participant in all those conversations?

– Destiny Muhammad

AMN Founder Lolly Lewis sat down with Destiny over Zoom to discuss the possibilities of AMN’s new workshop format, about Destiny’s devotion to the jazz tradition, and much more.

Lolly Lewis: I’m so excited about our workshop. You know, it’s been a year since you did that wonderful online workshop for AMN talking about the roots of jazz harp. And how great that you’re coming back with your trio to kick off our new series. This is going to be an opportunity for people to play with a professional ensemble in the comfort of home: you will be playing live at the wonderful theater at Drew School, and our participants will be at home with their instruments playing along with you. It’s going to be a new and innovative workshop model that we’re very excited about.

Destiny Muhammad: As am I! It’s definitely very innovative. And, you know, it’s going to be exciting for all of the participants who will have that opportunity to play and to actually interact with us, with Q&A happening during that time as well.

LL: People are very inspired by your devotion to the jazz tradition and the fundamentals of this music. That you really have a passion to convey and to bring people along with the joy that you find in music. I think that’s just so infectious and people really respond to it.

DM: I keep going back to the fundamentals. I can’t speak for everyone else but for me, the fundamentals have always been my launchpad. And when I have those and I feel them, not just in my hands but circulating throughout my DNA, then I feel like I can go anywhere with the music. And so I love the fundamentals. I just keep coming back to those ABCs of jazz.

LL: I think a lot of people who aspire to learn to improvise might feel like oh, I just have to jump off this cliff and do something that’s out of my comfort zone. But what you’ve just said has really sort of turned the light on for me, because if we get into [the fundamentals] we’re not jumping off anything; we’re going from a place of simplicity. And then it can grow and develop and that’s where the skill comes from.

DM: That’s why, even after 30 years of being a musician, I keep going back to the listening. I still need to listen, and then apply it to my instrument. I really encourage folks to really listen.

And I remember being a shorty in the music and hearing the word conversation said to me over and over again, and I didn’t really get it. And then it started to click… I liken it to European classical music where you’ve got chamber music, and you’ve got a cellist and maybe a violist and a violinist and everybody has to be strong in their understanding of the music. And then they come together and they’ve all been studying a particular song or suite of music. But everybody’s strong enough where they’re playing and listening, and their portion of the conversation is shared. And so [in the trio], we’ve all been independently what they call shedding. And then we come together with our own understanding of the music so we can bring that conversation. What is it that I have to say, in [Miles Davis’s] All Blues on my instrument? I’m feeling like I have something to contribute. What do I have to say as a participant in those conversations?

And so that’s what I see when I’m listening to each player. Each one is bringing all of their life experience. This is the thing that I want to share with the participants: bring all your life experience, whatever that is. Here’s the music. Miles wrote it, but what do you have to say?

LL: And that conversation is going to be so fun for people, not only to learn from you, but to really feel like they’re part of the ensemble and that they’re welcomed into that music experience.

DM: It would be wonderful to see you there in the virtual house!!P

Listen to the whole interview and join us on September 18th!

Categories
Community Composers Jazz and Beyond - Non-Classical Music Vocal and Choral Music Workshops

Juneteeth Choral Celebration

Don’t miss our second annual JUNETEENTH choral celebration, led once again by the wonderful Candace Y. Johnson. If you attended her Spirituals workshop last year, you’ll remember what a joyous occasion it was to sing Moses Hogan’s arrangement of Deep River on the first Juneteenth federal holiday. This June 19, Candace will lead us in singing a new work by Roland Carter, the esteemed choral composer and conductor whose arrangement of Lift Every Voice and Sing has become the iconic version of the Black national anthem.

Carter’s new work Make Some Noise, Get in Trouble honors the great civil rights leader John Lewis who admonished us to get in “good trouble, necessary trouble.” The piece draws its text from Congressman Lewis’s speeches.

It’s a first for AMN: we’re very excited to be part of a commissioning project to perform a new work. And in this case, it’s a project that’s totally aligned with AMN’s values of community participation, amateur music-making, and honoring our diverse American musical heritage. This exciting project was coordinated by the national choral advocacy organization Chorus America.

In a recent conversation over Zoom, Candace and Roland met with AMN founder Lolly Lewis to discuss the piece and the upcoming workshop. Candace noted that she heard a particularly fluid, almost river-like character in one of the sections of the music. Roland noted that yes, in fact he referenced the Spiritual Wade in the Water in that section. “I always like to quote a Spiritual if I can. One that has meaning, not just any Spiritual, but it has to reflect the text and it becomes an important part of what I do,” he explained. “Doing art songs – and I call my solo Spirituals art songs because I like the play of the piano with the voice – is all about the interpretation of the words.”

Listen to Candace and Roland’s discussion about the music and how to interpret the details of this new piece that incorporates traditional choral singing with elements of gospel and even hip-hop! And then join us on June 19 to lift our voices in a Juneteenth celebration of America.

Make Some Noise, Get in Trouble!

Categories
AMN mentors Piano Talking about Music Workshops

Meet Pianist Monica Chew

Monica Chew joined AMN founder Lolly Lewis by Zoom to talk about working with Paul Hersh and her return to music after a long absence.

“The best thing about coming to studio class with Paul is always the other players who come and share music.” 

Although the Ravel piece that Monica Chew will bring to the workshop is the most modern music on our series, to Monica it’s very much music of the past. She has returned to classical music after many years away: having studied piano with Hersh for a year when she was a Conservatory student, she pursued a career in tech after college, coming back to piano as part of her renewed music life as a composer and new music advocate.

“I hadn’t seen Paul in many years, I took a long time off of music after I finished my Masters with him, and it’s been really nice to reconnect.”

She says she now finds that her approach is different from his, because “Paul is very score-based. Now that I’m also a composer I know how much there is that can’t be expressed in a score. I view music-making as much more a collaboration.”

“I’m very intimidated by piano music, simply because there’s such a large body of work for piano, probably more than any other instrument, and so much has already been contributed. What can you say that’s new? I still study piano music, and Ravel is one of those composers whose piano music is incredibly idiomatic. One of the things I love about his work is how well it lies underneath the hands. Even though he writes a lot of really difficult music, one always feels as though he really thought about the pianist.”

Monica talked about working with Paul: “He’s certainly a Renaissance man! He has many areas of interest in which he’s achieved a high level of knowledge. One of the things I really appreciate about Paul, is his curmudgeonliness about piano music and playing the piano. He doesn’t care how difficult a piece is or how well-regarded it is in the literature, or how much you’ve struggled just to get the notes out of the instrument. It’s very much an approach of, if it can be more musical, then let’s try and make it more musical.”

I hope that you will join AMN’s fourth and final session of the Piano Conversations series on May 11 as Paul and Monica explore one of the movements of Ravel’s Miroirs in greater depth.

Learn more in this preview video!

ATTEND ONLINE

Online participants will be part of the conversation, adding questions and comments in real time. And all registered participants will receive a video link to the workshop recording.

Tickets are $65 for the series, $20 for individual sessions.


DATES, TIMES, AND TOPICS

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Ludwig van Beethoven
   Piano Sonata, Op. 109 (1820) – 3. Theme and Variations
   Pianist: Christopher Basso

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Franz Schubert
   Drei Klavierstucke, D. 946 (1828) – No. 1  Allegro assai
   Pianist: Hye Yeong Min

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Frederic  Chopin
   Ballade No. 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841)
   Pianist: Laura Magnani

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
   Maurice Ravel
   Miroirs (1905) – 3. Une barque sur l’ocean 

   Pianist: Monica Chew