Top Ten Reasons Why Choral Chameleon Is Awesome

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   Not that you needed them (because you ALREADY love us) but here are 10 things you should know about Choral Chameleon.

 

 

 

10. Concert Receptions.  More often than not, there is a reception with lots of yummy food and wine or other alcohol.  Yum.

9. Did you say Beatles?  Yes, we often sing selections written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.  Who doesn’t like The Beatles?  

8. Tickets Are Super Cheap!  This speaks for itself.  It’s always under $20 if you buy online.

7. Outside Support.  Numerous, talented individuals have pitched in to support Choral Chameleon, from artwork to website development to photography to composition, a diverse group of talent has caught the Chameleon vibe!

6. Tremendous Talent.  Members of the ensemble are opera singers, broadway singers, composers, teachers, conductors, doctors, visual artists, models, actors, directors, instrumentalists, and so on and so forth.  Choral Chameleon‘s singers come from all over the country (Canada, too) and represent some of the most expressive choral singers around.  

5. Chameleons Have Fun.  Pretty much all of the choir members like each other, care about each other, and are sensitive to each other.  This makes them sing incredibly well as a unit.  But more than anything else, they all love what they do, and this comes across to the audience.  Isn’t it fun to see other  people have fun?

4. Emotion.  Rather than trying to sing perfectly, Choral Chameleon strives to pull on the heartstrings.  The result?  A profound experience which is difficult to express with words, and leaves the listener glad they came.

3. The Board. Most people don’t know about the behind-the-scenes activity of an organization’s board of directors, but Choral Chameleon‘s includes many talented musicians, administrators, and other industry professionals who are all passionate about promoting the performing arts.  They are the rock of the group, and boy do they rock!

2. Vince Peterson.  It is rare to work with an artistic director who is as hip, talented, passionate, and emotionally invested in the direction and potential impact of an ensemble as Vince Peterson.  Sometimes he pushes you farther than you want to go, but it’s always a good thing in the end.  Without challenges there will not be growth.

1. We sing outstanding, diverse music.   From Renaissance songs to modern pop music, Choral Chameleon delivers an exciting program at each concert.  I often hear people describe that they enjoyed going to a symphony, for example, but after 2 hours of hearing classical music, they become bored to death.  Choral Chameleon concerts are like taking the coolest person in the world’s iPod and setting it to shuffle.

 

This blog is written by Andrew Cook-Feltz.

Choral Chameleon NEW ARTIST Bio: Evan Crawford

chameleon-blog2Choral Chameleon‘s newest member, soprano Evan Crawford, is today’s blog feature. 

Evan Crawford, soprano, is thrilled to be singing with the talented members of Choral Chameleon. A devotee of new opera and musical theater as well as choral music, Evan’s recent roles include Albert D.J. Cashier in the world-premiere performance of Marie Incontrera’s No Shirts, No Skirts, No Service and Betty in Christian McLeer’s House, both with the Brooklyn-based Remarkable Theater Brigade. As a chorister, Evan has sung with the 2008 Beijing Olympics Festival Chorus; with the Brooklyn College Chorale as the soprano soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms; and with RTB in the world premiere of Christian McLeer’s Requiem. A graduate student at Brooklyn College, Evan studies voice with Monica Harte and conducting with Vince Peterson (Artistic Director of Choral Chameleon).

Offstage, Evan enjoys writing and loves stories of all kinds – whether reading or watching them – and in addition to performing, hopes to become a playwright, librettist, and/or the person who gets a gender-neutral pronoun added to dictionaries.

 

There’s something appealing about singing with Choral Chameleon, is there not?

Apart from the obvious – that the whole group is incredibly talented – I love the energy. I attended two rehearsals and a concert before I was asked to sing with Choral Chameleon, and the singers were very friendly and engaging. A number of them struck up conversations with me although they clearly had no idea who I was or why I was hanging around. When I started singing with the group last week, it was more of the same. Everyone has been really welcoming. I also like the seriousness and dedication. I’ve noticed that experienced soloists sometimes have a tendency not to take choral singing seriously, even though singing as a group requires its own level of musicianship. These singers clearly love and respect what they are doing, which makes me happy to be there.

 

What is your performance schedule like outside of Choral Chameleon?

I am currently in rehearsals for a February production of a contemporary opera: “The Veil of Forgetfulness” by Susan Stoderl, in which I will be singing the role of Brigid.

 

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What else do you have going on?

I am also in my first semester of the graduate voice program at Brooklyn College, where I am working as the choral graduate assistant and singing with both choirs.

 

Do you have a favorite, inspirational quote?

I have a lot, but I’ll share this one from the movie Mulan: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”

 

What’s your favorite Choral Chameleon selection that you’ve either sung or heard the group perform?

I heard the choir sing “There Will Be Rest” by Frank Ticheli at the last concert, and in rehearsal a few weeks before. I was already enjoying listening to the rehearsal, but when the choir began to sing that piece I was riveted. It’s simply beautiful.

 

The choir is always reaching out to new fans to attend concerts.  What do you want people to know about Choral Chameleon?

They are one of the most talented choral groups I’ve heard – certainly the most talented I’ve sung with – and it’s FUN. The music is fun, the people are fun, and the whole experience is unique.

 

This blog is written by Andrew Cook-Feltz, baritone & Singer Representative to the board (ex-officio)

Music That Transforms and Inspires

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Choral Chameleon‘s Day of the Dead concert on Nov. 1st, 2009 continues to receive rave reviews from concert-goers, as they find the time in their busy schedules to reflect on how the concert experience touched their minds, souls, and hearts.

Alto Leigh Trifari

Alto Leigh Trifari had mentioned, post-concert, that one of her friends and colleagues from SUNY Potsdam had thoroughly enjoyed the concert, remembering that Dale had said something like, “THIS is what choral music is supposed to be today, and all the other New York choral groups are SO yesterday!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intrigued, we wanted to know what else Dale had to say, and this is what we received.

 

“I attended the Choral Chameleon concert on Sunday in the midst of NYC Marathon Madness: hundreds and hundreds of runners and their families meeting up after the conclusion of the race and taking over CPW. After dodging a veritable sea of silver-wrapped exhausted international athletes, I entered the church and was transfigured by the glorious sounds of this marvelous choral ensemble. This is the way we want our 21st-century singing! Variety-nuanced-well-prepared singing in a setting to enhance the experience. I think this was my third Choral Chameleon concert and I was so impressed after last season’s finale that I sent a small donation to help support them. Vince is an inspired conductor who has assembled a stunning group of young people who combine their talents and showcase many. One of the singers is a fellow alum of The Crane School of Music. I sat there, enjoying the selections, thinking about how proud all of our mentors would be to know that they DID instill in us the love of singing, and moreso, the ability to create art that transforms and inspires.”

Dale Alan Zurbrick
Past-President
SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association

 


When all is said and done, it is music that can touch the soul and awaken the spirit to “transform and inspire” just as Dale says.  All choral music has its place in the world, but Choral Chameleon is the cutting-edge, modern scene of vocal ensembles.  Chameleons adapt to fit their environment.  Choral Chameleon is the voice of now.

So what’s the goal of Choral Chameleon, anyway?

Choral Chameleon is an innovative vocal ensemble that thinks outside the box about choral music.  The mission of Choral Chameleon is to create a new paradigm in choral music and reshape the listener’s experience. Defying convention and expectation, the group brings together the old and the new, the spiritual and the secular, the popular and the obscure. Choral Chameleon recognizes that all music is made of the same elements, and sings in the musical language of the new generation of listeners.

The CC blog is written by Andrew Cook-Feltz, baritone and Singer Representative to the board (ex-officio)

Last Weekend’s Concert In Review

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Choral Chameleon sang a Day of the Dead concert on Sunday, Nov. 1st.  Here are just some of the comments baritone Andrew Cook-Feltz received post-concert from his aunt, some friends and some co-workers:

 

“The tickets were very cheap, considering the quality of the concert.”

“You guys are good.”

“Such a variety of talent.”

“That composer who writes music for you is really talented.”

“Jeremy Pasha’s solo was amazing.”


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That’s what my audience members told me.  What about yours?


 

 

Don’t miss the next Choral Chameleon concert, just in time for some awesome Christmas & Holiday music:

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Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 8:00pm

The Choral Chameleon blog was started, is written, and diligently maintained by Andrew Cook-Feltz, baritone and Singer Representative to the board (ex-officio).  




I’m Goin’ Up Yonder

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“More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock death. It was a ritual the indigenous people had been practicing at least 3,000 years.” (taken from an article by Carlos Miller of The Arizona Republic on www.azcentral.com) Commonly known to Americans as the Day of the Dead, it is a mostly Mexican tradition honoring the lives of those who have gone before.  Dia de los Muertos.  It coincides on November 1st and 2nd with the Catholic holidays known as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, which eventually turned into Halloween.

 

Choral Chameleon will not be setting up ritualistic altars with skulls and bones, or laying down the deceased’s favorite foods across the floor of 4th U, but we will be singing songs that are centered around the subject of human mortality. 8531_140225922018_36910037018_3116638_6644552_n

 

In having a conversation with model, singer and visual artist Leigh Trifari (of the Choral Chameleon alto section) I realized that many of us in the group have lost loved ones recently, which makes this concert especially precious and personal to our ensemble and to its audience.  I asked Leigh to share some thoughts on how the November 1st concert is going to touch her life. 

 

Leigh Trifari: “For me, it is a way to honor the dead, both known and unknown (but especially those near and dear to me). When I say Halloween is my “favorite holiday”, what I really mean is that it is a MAJOR holiday in my personal faith (not unlike Yom Kippur in another faith). In spite of being a massive candy fest these days, I believe that Halloween marks that time when nights grow long, and shadows cast themselves on my light and my spirit.  I enter “the dark months” and not until February do I generally feel a return to light. Because my birthday falls on the Spring Equinox, I feel especially tied to the solar calendar and I am very sensitive to the changing of the seasons.

October is a time of introspection and solitude (while Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all clamor for my attention). Not to be morbid or anything, but the flip of life is death, and death (even symbolic death) is inevitable and necessary. I have experienced “near death”, cried and mourned the passing of thousands of deaths on 9/11, survived my own brush with death and watched my father battle his own fear of dying in a hospital ward.”

 

Last month, my grandmother and my uncle died within a couple of weeks of each other.  I had 24 hours to fly from New York to Iowa, go to my grandma’s funeral, spend the night with my family, and return back to New York the following morning.  While saddened by her death, I was so busy while it happened that I never really thought much about it.  I made the travel plans and figured it would all be over before I knew it. 

 

As I drove the rental car from the airport to the funeral, I suddenly started to remember things about Grandma Feltz I hadn’t thought about for years.  Childhood memories began to resurface, and I felt myself welling up with tears as I looked out at the Iowa landscape, Grandma Feltz’s homeland as long as she lived.  As I drove, I realized that the reason I was so caught up in the sadness of everything was because I was listening to a song that talks about someone dying.  It’s a Rachael Yamagata song called, “Little Life.” 

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With my grandma, JoAnn Feltz in 1990.

Lyrics: When all of this makes the news

Will they remember to tell it right

Or will devils make off in the night

Can you tell me why I got so high as I was flying?


As she lays in bed in her piece of ground

Will they remember her blessed soul

Or just that she lost all control

Can you tell me why she had to die alone?


And people wake up, people get moving

There’s a life waiting here

Get up, people start doing

There’s a life waiting here

 

When all our time spent away

We remember the loves of our past

Or just that love never lasts

Can you tell me why this little life goes so fast?


I then realized how powerful music is to express emotion, particularly that which we tend to contain and bottle within ourselves.  There is no other outlet than music to directly confront unspoken, lingering human conditions.   I got out of my rental car, and headed inside the church to my grandmother’s funeral.  Instantly when I walked into the church, I saw her corpse in the coffin, right in the lobby of the church. I froze, I was stunned. I didn’t expect to see her dead body before I even got to say hello to my family. That image has not left my mind for the past three weeks, and I’ve rarely spoken of it to anyone.  Who wants to hear about death, about pain, about feeling scared, or weak and insignificant? 

It’s of great importance to have outlets where people can express themselves, and where people can come to terms with death.  You can’t go to a funeral and expect to have achieved closure by the time the funeral is over.  It’s an ongoing thing, dealing with death.  Why not use music to explore the perplexing puzzle of death? Why not achieve some sense of closure and healing through celebrating life, one “concert” at a time?

 

In a recent publicity meeting I attended, the question was asked, “How are you going to describe your choir to a publicist to get them interested?” I found it to be an excellent question, for I always think of the quote “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”  (Somehow, my music theory professors never seemed to share the sentiment) How can you explain innovation to someone?  How can you explain beautiful, sonic harmonies that touch the soul?  How can you explain an ensemble filled with people who have suffered personal tragedies and the loss of loved ones, who then turn that energy around to create an uplifting, profound choral experience that speaks to the very heart of human nature, to the very questions of life and death that have perplexed humanity since the dawn of time?  This concert is more than just a choir concert.  It’s a conversation, a question.  It’s a musical ellipsis on death.  

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Leigh Trifari At Peekskill's Annual "Open Studios" 2008. Photo by Cathi Locati.

 

 

As Leigh Trifari says, “Life is worth LIVING, because it’s too short, and we deserve to be happy and satisfied for the brief time we are here on this earth.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Choral Chameleon blog is maintained by Andrew Cook-Feltz, baritone and Singer Representative (ex-officio) to the board.

Choral Chameleon Artist Profile: Katie Zaffrann

Chameleon BlogSoprano Katie Zaffrann, Choral Chameleon’s founding (and largely irreplaceable) President offers us this rousing look into her performance career.

Katie Zaffrann is a versatile performing artist and arts administrator dedicated to promoting the human spirit through performance.

She has performed throughout New York City in numerous concerts, workshops and readings, as well as in Personal Space Theatrics’ hit productions of A Christmas Carol at The Barrow Group.  Classical stage experience includes a summer season at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass. and a national tour performing in two-actor versions of Alice in Wonderland and an educational Shakespeare production for kids.

She also sings with indie rock/electronica group Little Grey Girlfriend and can be heard on their live set on Breakthru Radio.

Katie holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University, where she was the recipient of the Edward Greer Award for Classic Acting for her performance as Olivia in Twelfth Night.  She studies voice in New York City with Ruth Williams Hennessy and coaches with VP Boyle, and has also trained classically at Shakespeare & Co. and at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, England.

Visit her online at http://katiezaffrann.com.

Katie, what are you currently up to outside of Choral Chameleon?

I will be performing this Christmas in Miracle on 34th Street at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, Long Island.  It’s actually my first full production in nearly two years, and I’m really excited.  I’m also in the process of building my online presence at katiezaffrann.com … and I have some things up my sleeve for 2010.  You’ll just have to subscribe to my RSS feed or my mailing list to find out what they are!

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

I’m not sure I can pick a favorite!  I have so many I like that I have a rotating quote section on the front page of my new website.  But if I had to choose one for the moment, it would be:

“Perfection is static, and we are in full progress.”  — anais nin

Why do you enjoy being a member of Choral Chameleon?

I remember when I was in my freshman year of acting school, and a junior-level musical theater class performed a group number for the rest of the department.  I heard the ensemble parts and remarked to myself how none of them were actually singing WITH each other — they were a bunch of soloists singing at the same time.  Singing with Chameleon is the first time since my formative choral years in high school where I’ve been able to experience that indescribable, irreplaceable HUMAN spark of voices blending and making music together.  I love the varied backgrounds of everyone in the group, and the way we focus all those individual voices into one beautiful tone.  It feeds me in a way that none of my other artistic ventures do.

What would you say to a person who is “on the fence” about coming to a Choral Chameleon concert?

Leave any preconceived notions of “choral music” at the door and come share this experience with us!

The Choral Chameleon blog is a human effort on the part of Andrew Cook-Feltz, baritone and Singer Representative to the board (ex-officio)

“Happy Phantom” A Unique Take On Death

Original artwork by Marc Bovino

Original artwork by Marc Bovino

At the Day of the Dead concert on November 1st at 5pm,  Choral Chameleon will be singing a choral arrangement (created by artistic director Vince Peterson) of Tori Amos’ “Happy Phantom” from her 1992 debut album Little Earthquakes.  This song is often described as the only song on Tori’s landmark album that is remotely upbeat or cheerful.  And yet, the song is about being dead.

 

Lyrics

And if I die today I’ll be the happy phantom
And I’ll go chasing the nuns out in the yard
And I’ll run naked through the streets without my mask on
And I will never need umbrellas in the rain
I’ll wake up in strawberry fields everday
And the atrocities of school I can forgive
The happy phantom has no right to bitch

Oo who- the time is getting closer
Oo who- time to be a ghost
Oo who- every day were getting closer
The sun is getting dim
Will we pay for who we’ve been?

So if I die today I’ll be the happy phantom
And I’ll go wearing my naughties like a jewel
They’ll be my ticket to the universal opera
There’s Judy Garland taking Buddha by the hand
And then these seven little men get up to dance
They say Confucius does his crossword with a pen
I’m still the angel to the girl who hates to sin

Oo who- the time is getting closer
Oo who- the time to be a ghost
Oo who- every day were getting closer
The sun is getting dim
Will I pay for who I’ve been?

Or will I see you dear and wish I could come back
You found a girl that you could truly love again
Will you still call for me when she falls asleep
Or do we soon forget the things we cannot see?

Oo who- the time is getting closer
Oo who- the time to be a ghost
Oo who- every day were getting closer
The sun is getting dim
Will I pay for who I’ve been?

 

Everyone has a theory or belief system about what happens when we die.  And yet, so many of us fear death more than anything else in this world.  What really happens when we’re gone?  What is the afterlife?  Is there an afterlife?  Tori Amos has created a context in which death is more than something to look forward to- it’s going to be more fun than anything we’ve seen in our earthly existence.

It’s a great concept.  And when the 20 members of Choral Chameleon share it with an audience, people will be transformed.