The art of a cappella: Western Wind returns for concert, workshop

Thursday February 7, 2013

WEST BRATTLEBORO -- The Western Wind, an acclaimed six-voice a cappella ensemble based in New York City, launches its annual Winter Wonderland Weekend in Brattleboro with a concert for workshop participants, their hosts and the general public.

This year’s performance is set for Friday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m., at All Souls Church. The program features excerpts from their "Shakespeare in Love" and "Musical Shabbat" programs. The Shakespeare program includes original songs from the plays, settings of play lyrics by Romantic era composers and recent settings by New York-based composers.

Since 1969, this internationally acclaimed vocal sextet has devoted itself to the special beauty and variety of a cappella music. The ensemble’s repertoire reveals its diverse background: from Renaissance motets to ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, from medieval carols to Duke Ellington, from complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies.

In addition to a demanding performance schedule, the group runs an arts-in-education program for the New York public school system and presents an annual series of singing workshops in New York as well as in Northampton, Mass., and both Brattleboro and Woodstock. They have also produced a series of holiday programs broadcast over National Public Radio and Public Radio International, and to date have released 19 recordings.

Members of the group are Michele Kennedy, soprano, Linda Lee Jones, soprano, Todd Frizzell, tenor, Elliot Z. Levine, baritone, David Vanderwal, tenor, and William Zukof, countertenor. Their various backgrounds all include extensive choral and solo singing with renowned ensembles large and small; each has also some combination of other experience and skills, among them choral conducting, composition and music arranging, instrumental performance and serving in a range of production roles for opera and music theater.

Tickets to the Western Wind concert are $10 at the door, $8 for students and seniors, and include a dessert reception.

All Souls Church, which is handicapped-accessible, is located at 29 South St., just across the road from the West Brattleboro fire station and village green. For more information about All Souls Church, call 802-254-9377. For information about The Western Wind, visit

On Saturday, Feb 16, Western Wind returns to All Souls to lead its Workshop in Ensemble Singing for adults. The workshop’s purpose is to address the particular challenges of singing in small, largely unconducted ensembles. This year’s Brattleboro workshop runs through Feb. 15-18. At the end of each day, participants gather for a performance session, where feedback is offered.

Basic tuition for the three-day weekend is $350 and includes a ticket to the opening concert. 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


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