Songs of the Season
Spring Ahead with Local Music Concerts
Spring is in the air and there’s a pep in our step! If a season had a soundtrack, this one would be that of our local music groups, made up of friends and neighbors, serenading the Fox Cities communities. From acapella groups to wind ensembles, March and April offer a little something for everyone, right in our backyard.
Get to know the groups behind the music, plus plan for their spring concerts:
Fox Valley Chorus
A “fun-loving group” of acapella barbershop singers, the Fox Valley Chorus competes both regionally and internationally with the Sweet Adelines International organization. Unfortunately the group hasn’t competed since New Orleans in 2019 due to COVID, but that hasn’t been able to stop them from performing.
“Song and laughter make life worthwhile!” Terrie Williams, Financial Officer, exclaims. “We try to sing out in the community (at) farmers markets, baseball games or wherever someone requests.”
In years’ past, the Fox Valley Chorus held a ‘Sweetie Pie’ social event close to Valentine’s Day, but is switching it up this spring:
“Several of us are the ‘nerdy’ science and math brained people and thought it would be fun to celebrate Pi Day instead,” Williams says. “Due to schedules we decided March 12 at 3 p.m. would be best for our ‘Easy as Pi’ show: where math, music and eating pie meet!”
Audition requirements: The group sings every Tuesday night from 7-9 p.m.
“You don’t need to know how to read music, just have a love for singing and of course sing in tune,” Williams says. “You briefly sing with the director to find out which part suits your voice. Sing a few weeks with us and learn a song. Record yourself singing and submit for an audition.”
Spring Concert: Sunday, March 12. Cost: $10 and includes a slice of pie. Location: First Presbyterian Church, 200 S Church Street, Neenah.
A professional-level wind ensemble, VENTO Winds was established in 2013, but will celebrate its tenth season next year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic canceled our 2020-21 season,” Marty O’Donnell, President and Co-founder, says. “We’re looking forward to marking this celebration with amazing music and recognizing the amazing people who’ve supported our ten years!”
The support works both ways. You may recognize the group from its outreach performances within the community. VENTO Winds has performed at the Brown County Historical Society’s “A Victorian Christmas,” at the Hazelwood House, Light Up Appleton, The Festival of Trees at the Trout Museum of Art, The Appleton Public Library and senior living facilities.
“Our vision also includes performing high-quality classical music to unique spaces to reach new audiences. We’ve played at The Green Bay Botanical Gardens and McFleshman’s Brewing Company, and we’re always looking for smaller venues that might enjoy a one-of-a-kind musical experience,” O’Donnell says.
“VENTO Winds is comprised of accomplished musicians who volunteer their time—no one gets paid to be part of VENTO Winds. Furthermore, we never charge admission to attend any of our performances. We believe so strongly that everyone should have access to high-quality performances of wind ensemble music, and no barriers, including financial barriers, should prevent anyone from experiencing this music.”
Audition requirements: “VENTO Winds prides itself on adhering to strict wind ensemble performances standards,” O’Donnell explains. “Each section only has a limited number of members, and every musician has auditioned to be part of VENTO Winds. Openings for each section are posted in summer, and auditions are typically held in late summer. We always welcome new musicians to audition for VENTO Winds!”
Spring Concert: Sunday, March 19. Cost: Free. Location: UWO at Fox Cities Campus, 1478 Midway Rd, Menasha.
“Dr. Andy Mast always selects a wide variety of music that will entertain all audiences. Each of our concerts features a smaller chamber ensemble that showcases the distinctive character of wind ensemble music and the virtuosity of our musicians,” O’Donnell says. “Additionally, this concert will feature a student concerto performance by a talented and accomplished local high school musician who was selected from a rigorous concerto competition process. You won’t want to miss this great performance!”
NEWVoices’ mission “to present high quality choral music that engages and enriches our members and communities” is lived out by performing music, old and new, to the highest standard, with members from all over Northeast Wisconsin.
“NEWVoices is in our 44th season and continues to reinvent ourselves and challenge our members and audience with classical masterworks and world premiere works by underrepresented composers,” Valerie Simonsen, Executive Director, says.
Audition requirements: “All singers must audition to be in the choir and commit to being at all rehearsals,” Simonsen explains. “They receive the music ahead of the rehearsals and are expected to come prepared and work on their music outside of rehearsal. Our singers also volunteer to help with concert set up, music distribution, marketing and ticket sales.”
Spring Concert: Saturday, April 1. Cost: $25/10 for General Admission and students respectively. “OneVoice: Gather as One-An Ecumenical Church Music Workshop features NEWVoices singing Will Todd’s Mass in Blue-A Jazz Mass with soprano soloist, choir, piano, and jazz trio of bass, saxophone and percussion.
“This jazzy masterwork will be a fun and intriguing performance of a traditional liturgical mass setting. In the second half of this concert, NEWVoices will join with participants from area church choirs and community members, who want a chance to sing with our excellent choir, to sing several works together as one large choir,” Simonsen says. “We expect to have a choir of 150-200 voices singing as one. Prior to the concert, all participants and the members of NEWVoices will sing together in a day of workshop to prepare for the evening concert. It will be a wonderful day of community building through the joy of making music together!”
Averaging about 8 performances each year, the Fox Valleyaires, a male acapella singing organization, sings primarily in the barbershop style. But the group is involved in much more than that handful of singing engagements.
“We are actively involved in the community by last year sponsoring a food drive, sponsoring a blood drive, singing at the Little Chute Memorial Day ceremony, singing at Kimberly’s “Music in the Park,” singing with the Fox Valley Symphony at Brats, Beer & Beethoven, having a booth at Oktoberfest for 41 years and singing at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Outagamie courthouse,” Bob Starner, Chorus Manager,” says. “We also put on an annual Christmas dinner show at the Grand Meridian as well as a Christmas show (without a dinner) at UWO-Fox Cities Campus.
“The Fox Valleyaires were chartered in 1944 and have been putting on shows ever since. We rehearse every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the First English Lutheran Church in Appleton.For more than 70 years, the Fox Valleyaires have entertained in Northeast Wisconsin. Each year we support the community with drives that provide food, linens and pillows to those in need. Among our many performances are tributes to our military, visits to eldercare facilities and eight shows.”
Audition requirements: A simple audition and ability to pay modest annual dues.
Spring Concert: Saturday, April 15. “James Blond – Anybody Does it Better.” Guest quartet is Kordal Kombat from Minnesota. Cost: $20/adults, $12/students. Location: Xavier Performing Arts Center, 1600 W Prospect Ave, Appleton.
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