Thursday January 31, 2013

WEST BRATTLEBORO -- For more than two decades, the Western Wind vocal sextet, founded in 1969, has retreated from its New York City home to host its annual Winter Wonderland Workshop in ensemble singing at All Souls Church, aka West Village Meeting House, on President’s Day Weekend.

In addition to maintaining a demanding performance schedule, The Western Wind is committed to spreading the joy of music to people of all ages. They coordinate an arts-in-education program for New York public school children ages 8 to 18, as well as offer Workshops in Ensemble Singing for adults in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont each year. The workshop’s purpose is to address the particular challenges of singing in small, largely unconducted ensembles. This year’s Brattleboro workshop is Feb. 15-18.

The six singers who comprise The Western Wind arrive in town on Friday, Feb., 15, in time to present an 8 p.m. concert for workshop participants and the general public. A mostly a cappella performance is followed by a reception featuring gourmet treats prepared by the weekend’s chef-in-residence.

Participants return after breakfast on Saturday and are divided into working groups based on their level of sight-reading skills and singing experience, from novice to professional. Intensive preparation of a piece or two of music begins under the coaching guidance of a Western Wind member. Medieval and Renaissance, early American, romantic, folk, jazz and contemporary songs are all available.


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Everyone receives individual attention and personal instruction. At the end of each day, all participants gather for a performance session, where feedback is offered. Breaks are scheduled to provide time for walks, ice-skating, and "drinking hot toddies."

Many workshop participants are from the Tri-State region. These nearby residents can barter for tuition discounts in exchange for bed-and-breakfast accommodations.

Basic tuition for the three-day weekend is $350 and includes a ticket to the opening concert. A $25 early registration discount is available through Feb. 1. Newcomers are offered a 25 percent discount; groups of eight or more who plan to work together for the weekend are offered a discount as well. Some partial scholarships are available based on financial need. The meal package, at $83, includes a post-concert reception, lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday, and lunch on Monday.

For more information, call Tom Baehr at 802-387-2796. To register online, visit www.westernwind.org.