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Social Band | Vermont Composers Project

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Classical: Contemporary Folk: Modern Folk Moods: Type: Vocal
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Vermont Composers Project

by Social Band

VERMONT COMPOSERS PROJECT Social Band launched their Vermont Composers Project as a way to encourage new a cappella choral works. They commissioned 25 Vermont musicians - some young, some gray-haired; some very experienced, others just getting started.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Certainty
2:30 $0.99
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2. Marin Drinov
3:12 $0.99
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3. Sweet Is The Day
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4. Mansions In The Skies
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5. Life Time
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6. Vain World Adieu
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7. Chirripo Meditation
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8. A Digger Song
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9. Aurora
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10. Serenade
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11. The Quangle Wangle's Hat
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12. Tempest Fugit
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13. Find Ways
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14. Mommy Was In The Shade
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15. The Summer Day
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16. The Brain
3:03 $0.99
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17. Apple Tree
2:29 $0.99
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18. The End Of Sadness
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19. Say It Now
3:31 $0.99
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20. Chords
2:03 $0.99
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21. It All Comes Down
2:38 $0.99
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22. I Want To Shout
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23. Beatitudes
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Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Social Band:
Social Band was founded in 1998 to offer music from a variety of compatible repertoires, much of it overlooked by other choral groups. We strive to draw upon the strengths of classical and folk traditions, and offer performances that are both refined and direct expressions of feeling. Encouraging composition has been part of Social Band's mission from the outset, and many members of the group have written new pieces for us. Social Band's Vermont Composers Project is a logical extension of this predilection. For more information see our website at www.socialband.org.

The Vermont Composers Project:
In spring 2003 a group of Social Band members were sitting around talking about the future direction of the group. Someone suggested, "Why don't we do an entire concert of original compositions?"
We embraced the idea immediately. After all, it made perfect sense. From its beginning, Social Band has been blessed with composers, mostly from within our own ranks, who regularly provide us with powerfullygood, original compositions. We decided to invite twenty-five Vermont composers to each write an original a cappella choral piece for us. We submitted grant applications and received generous funding from the Vermont Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the Argosy Foundation. We sent out commission invitations to a wide variety of Vermont composers, trying to reach across different genres, styles, and experience.
That's when the fun began. It turns out the composers were as excited about this project as we were. Before long we had new songs to start learning - beautiful songs! We were continually impressed and delighted as the songs rolled in, proving to us once again the creative wealth that we have here in Vermont. On this recording we are sharing some of those wonderful compositions with you. We hope you will enjoy being part of this exchange of gifts between composers, performers and audience.

Artistic Director:
Amity Baker has directed Social Band since 2001. She lives in her hometown of Waterbury Center, Vermont teaching, directing and singing to anyone who will listen. She has little in the way of formal training but makes up for that by hanging around people who have had lots. Like any good Vermonter, her waking hours are made up of a patchwork of projects. She directs summer music camps for children and teenagers, gives choral workshops in a variety of settings, teaches at Community College of Vermont, and is a feared and respected secretary at Christ Church, Presbyterian in Burlington. As a performer, Amity divides her time between Aurora Ancient Music, Trio Eccuci (specializing in Corsican polyphony), Soaked Oats (an old-time duo) and has collaborated for many years with Northern Harmony, a singing ensemble that specializes in world and early music.

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Reviews


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Vermont Guardian -- Alan Lewis

Social Band Showcases Vermont Composers
Calling Forth the Choral Community:
Social Band Showcases Vermont Composers


A COUPLE of years ago, a group of Social Band members
were sitting around my living room talking about the
future direction of the group," said Vermont Composers
Project Director Ken Brown. "Someone suggested, "Why
don't we do an entire concert of original
compositions?" Commissioning of new works began in
April 2004, and this effort has now taken tangible
form as Social Band's "Vermont Composers Project," one
of the finest VT-connected CDs of 2005.

The original plan, explained Artistic Director
Amity Baker, "was to give a group of talented people a
reason to compose something that was choral and a
cappella. Some ... had never written choral works
before, so it was a way to encourage folks to stretch
themselves and take a stab at this genre. Others were
tried and true choral composers. In either case,
Social Band was interested in bringing new choral work
into the community and creating a project that would
showcase the wonderful and varied talent that we have
in Vermont."

The music on "Vermont Composers Project is nicely
varied, though early American influences run strong.
American shape-note tradition, said Baker, "is a style
that Social Band has always loved because of its
robust singing style and because it was written by
folks from all walks of life for their own
communities. This feeling of community music-making
is part of what inspires Social Band." Apparent later
inspirations range from tight barbershop quartet
harmonies to Van Dyke Parks' psychedelic chuckles.

Peter Amidon may recall from his days with the
spirited late-1970s Larry Gordon-led Word of Mouth
Chorus that this music can crackle with energy.
Though he has also sung in both Northern Harmony and
Village Harmony, "Beatitudes," his Social Band
offering, is his first original choral production.

Like the other composers, Amidon wook this task
very seriously. "In writing the piece," he said, "I
was inspired by the rhythms and drifting melodies of
12th-century Gregorian chant, and I tried to have the
shifting harmonies of the piece match the drifting
melody. I wrote it at home, using the piano to work
out the harmonies. I tried it out a couple of times
with the family before sending it off to Social Band."

"My piece, 'Sweet Is the Day,'" said Mary Alice
Amidon, "is my first four-part composition. ... I
chose a text from the shape-note singing tradition ...
by Isaac Watts, used for the song 'Devotion' in the
'Sacred Harp.' I intended it to have the spirit of a
shape-note song, a lively yet lyrical piece of music
that expresses our deepest longings: 'Oh may my heart
in tune be found, like David's harp of solemn sound.'"

"I was honored by Social Band's invitation," said
Katie Shimizu, "though I was dubious of my ability to
deliver anything they would be able to use. I poured
over some of my favorite tunes, searching for a text
that I connected enough with to give them something
that came from my heart and not just four parts of a
tune I had plunked out on a keyboard. The words from
'Farewell Hymn' have always struck me; I like the
approach to tragedy it conveys. To me it's not a song
of sadness, but one of acceptance.

"I sat down at my old composer chair and out it
came. All four parts, all fitting, all playing off
each other, sounding boisterous and triumphant. I
looked it over a few times, sang the parts to make
sure they worked, and then it was done."

Shimizu was quite pleased with Social Band's
performance of her propulsive "Certainty" this summer.
"[T]hey were all grinning at each other, swinging
their arms, and having a generally good time singing
it."

Robert Resnik of Vermont Public Radio composed
the bright, playful, and very attractive "Chords."
Pete Sutherland, in turn, first heard the Social Band
recording of hiw own work on Resnik's VPR broadcast,
"All the Traditions."

"For 'Chirripo Meditation,' a setting of a Costa
Rican friend's journal entries on his bi-weekly
commuter route through the cloud forest on foot, I
envisioned a kind of solid and stately block of men's
voices singing phrases that naturally followed the
unrhymed text," said Sutherland. "I am a strong
believer in the power of melody no matter how
embellished by arrangement, so I needed to have that
first and build around it. I employed harmony that
borrows from both barbershop and Beatles and let the
thing find its own route on its own sweet time."

"I hadn't written a choral piece for about six
years," said Anna Patton, "so I was touched that
Social Band liked my old songs enough to trust that
there was more where that came from." She explained,
"I wrote 'Marin Drinov' while living on a street of
that name in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. ... I chose the text
and wrote the piece while thinking about all the
things people bring with them while abroad: memorized
texts and melodies and a whole world of individual and
cultural associations and meanings."

Patti Casey shines with her twangy "It All Comes
Down." It "was written while on the road in North
Carolina last year. I was listening to radio," she
said, "which is heavily religious, and I heard a bit
of some Bible reading that actually resonated with me
in a practical way. It referred to us humans as
stewards of the earth and responsible for taking care
of it. ... I love four-part gospel style singing, so I
chose that format, and voila! there was the song."

"We knew from the outset of this project," said
Baker, "that we would have selections that crossed
many genres and we hoped it would give rise to choral
pieces that otherwise might not have beeh 'birthed.'

"This project has transformed us as a group and
will definitely inspire our future work."
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Barbara Sterling

Relaxing and intriguing
My Mother heard two of the tracks on Robert Resnick's Vermont Public Radio show "All the Traditions". She mentioned them so I tracked down the CD and gave it to her for Easter. We listened to it in the car on the way to Easter dinner. The songs were intriguing, different, some thought provoking, some get you up and moving, and some soothing but not sleepy. My Mom has listened to it since and mentioned how interesting some of the songs are, not so usual. The voices are great, blending, harmonious but you are still able to pick out individual voices. I really enjoyed the range of material covered by the composers. As a Vermonter I am proud of the work done by my fellow Vermonters. The liner notes are informative and helpful.

And I have to say the customer service by CD Baby is fantastic.
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