Milwaukie Chor Anno gives choir directors their due
Once a year, choral directors from around the Pacific Northwest gather to sing as one under the name of Chor Anno. This year, the group will perform in concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Milwaukie Lutheran Church, 3810 S.E. Lake Road. The program is titled "Sweet Rivers."
The 32-voice choir sings under the direction of Nicole Lamartine, director of choral activities at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, and J. Howard Meharg, founder of the group, who lives in Vancouver, Washington.
The concert comes at the conclusion of a workshop for choral directors taking place the same day at Milwaukie Lutheran Church, so John Baker, music director at the church, invited Chor Anno to sing, Meharg said. Chor Anno means the annual choir.
The concert is free, but donations will be gladly accepted.
This year's program is "both inspiring as well as entertaining," Meharg said. "We keep finding incredible new music being written by contemporary choral composers."
The concert title was inspired by lyrics in "All of Us," a portion of "Considering Matthew Shepard," a concert-length composition by Craig Hella Johnson. The work honors Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, who was tortured and killed in 1998.
"It's from this work, along with the last piece on the program, 'Sweet Rivers,' that we find the title and theme for the concert," Meharg said.
Other works that will be performed include Anton Bruckner's "Os Justi Mediabitur," an arrangement of Pete Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn" and Jake Runestad's "Why the Caged Bird Sings."
"Then, without pause, that piece is followed by 'Prayer for the World,' a work composed specifically for Chor Anno by Dan Schreiner, a Chor Anno bass who is a master's degree student at Central Washington University," Meharg said.
Meharg, Lamartine conduct
Meharg founded Chor Anno in 2009 and serves as the group's conductor and music director. He taught music in Kelso and Longview, Washington, for over 30 years.
He is active in the American Choral Directors Association, serving as webmaster/editor of the six-state divisional online newsletter and the website for the seven-state Southeast division.
Meharg sang in professional choirs for years, retiring in 2002.
For years, he said, he noticed the superb singing exhibited by director colleagues at conferences and professional reading sessions.
"It seemed just a step to invite these folks, who invariably sing well, to form a professional-level choir," Meharg said.
Lamartine has sung with Chor Anno since 2012 and was named associate conductor of the group in 2014.
In addition to her duties at the University of Wyoming, Lamartine has become one of the nation's most sought-after clinicians and honor choir conductors. She went to China in 2014 as part of a conductor exchange program sponsored by ACDA.
As a professional vocal musician, Lamartine has sung as a regular member of the Grammy-nominated Conspirare, based in Austin, Texas, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and the Colorado Bach Ensemble.
What: Chor Anno, a 32-voice choir, presents "Sweet Rivers"
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22
Where: Milwaukie Lutheran Church, 3810 S.E. Lake Road
Details: Concert is free, but donations accepted.