Alumni Choir, early director return for 50th Anniversary Choral Concert

The University of Wisconsin Green Bay Music program will mark Alumni Days and the school’s golden anniversary with a celebratory choral concert at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday (Oct. 17) at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

Prof. Trinidad Chavez, then UW-Green Bay's director of choral activities, rehearses with a 1970s-era student ensemble on campus.
Prof. Trinidad Chavez, then UW-Green Bay’s director of choral activities, rehearses with a 1970s-era student ensemble on campus.

Current student performers — members of the full Concert Choir and the elite UW-Green Bay Chorale — will share the program with the 50th Anniversary Alumni Choir made up of returning performers representing graduating classes from the 1970s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s. The 70-voice reunion choir will perform under the direction of Prof. Emeritus Trinidad Chavez, who guided the growth of the University’s vocal music program from 1970 through his retirement in 1997.

The alumni portion of the program closes the evening. The alumni — some of whom have performed professionally and many who went on to local music education careers or participation in church or community choral groups — will begin with Mozart’s motet “Ave Verum Corpus,” a gentle and serene work written just months before the composer’s death in 1791. Their second selection features another familiar piece by a renowned composer, the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth” by the widely performed 20th century English composer John Rutter. The final selection will bring current students — the 37 members of the select UW-Green Bay Chorale — back on stage to join the alumni in performing “Dona Nobis Pacem,” the grand closing movement of Bach’s masterful Mass in B-minor. Current student Ryan Dummer will accompany the 50th Anniversary Alumni Choir on piano.

The concert begins with the Concert Choir under the direction of Prof. Sarah Meredith, performing a varied program — spanning musical theatre to opera — that will also feature an alumni dimension. Guest mezzo-soprano Laurie Seely Vassalli, who attended UW-Green Bay in the 1990s and today performs professionally with Lyric Opera of Chicago, will be soloist on the aria “Dido’s Lament” from the 17th century work Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell. The 44-member Concert Choir will also perform choral selections from “State Fair” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the “Neighbors’ Chorus” from the 19th century Jacques Offenback comic opera La jolie Parfumeuse, and Verdi’s “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” from Nabucco. The women of the Concert Choir will be featured on Gilbert Becaud’s “Let It Be Me,” and the men will be featured in “The Mansions of the Lord” by contemporary composer Nick Glennie-Smith. Pianist Mary Slavek is the accompanist.

Following intermission, the UW-Green Bay Chorale under the direction of Prof. Randall Meder will be backed by a faculty and alumni instrumental ensemble — string, brass and percussion — in the performance of all six movements of Mozart’s sacred masterwork Vesperae solennes de confessore. Featured vocalists are Prof. Courtney Sherman, who will perform the famous soprano solos, along with students Lauren Paul, alto; Lane Ludtke, tenor, and Nicholas Schommer, bass. The guest instrumentalists are Jill Sousek and Janet Bond Sutter, violin; Michael Dewhirst, cello, Maximillian Simmons, bass, Prof. Adam Gaines and James Block, trumpet; Andrew Zipperer, Prof. Kevin Collins and Bill Burroughs, trombone; Jamie Rodgers, timpani; and Ray Thompson, organ.

Members of the Chorale, Concert Choir and 50th Anniversary Alumni Choir are listed below.

Tickets to Saturday’s concert, general admission, are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors. (Student tickets are free.) Tickets may be purchased in advance through the University Ticketing and Information Center (920.465.2400) or online, or obtained at the Weidner Center Box Office before the performance.

UW-Green Bay Alumni Choir:
1970s — Susan McAllister 1972, Edward Selinsky 1972, Craig Konowalski 1974, Kate Meeuwsen 1976, Crystal Hogan 1979;
1980s — Paula Tolksdorf 1983, Mike Cisler 1984,
Cindy Ludtke 1984,
 Mark Schmandt 1985, Steve Dotz 1986, 
Scott Willems 1988,
 Janet Holdt 1989, Timothy Kozlovsky 1989, Mark Peot 1989;
1990s — Cheryl Coisman 1990,
Angela Bertram Kampmann 1990, Karen Runnoe Oftedahl 1990, Deb Seidl 1990,
 Tina Thielen-Gaffey 1990, 
Duane ,Woelfel 1990, 
Judy Woelfel 1990, 
Kevin Flogel 1992,
 Sherry Savee Zimbal 1993,
 Tim Bahn 1994,
 Roger Drumm 1994,
 Phillip Frazier 1994,
 Jill Huguet 1994,
 Michelle Kuchta 1994, 
Michelle LaPlante 1995, 
Jennifer Steeber 1995,
 Debbie Drumm 1996, 
Karla Keegan 1996, Laurie Seely Vassalli 1996, Kristin Robertson Gehm 1997, Jeffrey Burkel 1998,
 Brett Dimmer 1998, Amy Baker 1999, Christy Flynn 1999, Melissa Platowski 1999, Tina Sauerhammer 1999;
2000s — Mary Hart Ott 2000,
 Amanda Moschea Reichhold 2000, Jessica Galarneau 2003,
 David Robertson 2003,
 Tiffany Wier 2003,
 Timi Wojcik 2003,
 Abbe Somerhalder 2004,
 Darla Czarapata VanCamp 2004, Terry Brennan 2006, 
Jemma Lund 2007,
 Shiyanke Goonetilleke 2008, Ashley Sprangers 2008,
 Shelley DeGrave 2009, 
Kolia Olson 2009,
 Matthew Walton 2009,
 Andrea Fisher Storzer 2010,
 Erin LeGrave 2011,
 Lacy Siegmund 2011,
 Kendra Wilke 20012,
 Krista Jaeger 2013, 
Alex Stensaas 2013,
 Rancel Tom 2013, 
Angie Danowski 2014,
 Nicole Duhaime 2014,
 Charles Reimer 2014,
 Farin Ludtke 2015.

UW-Green Bay Concert Choir: Soprano I — Acacia Angelo, Emily Blaha, Abigail Borchardt, Breanna Butterfield, Guinevere Casper, Jessica Hannon, Laura Hoffman, Jacilyn Rubio, Alleia Tyson, Mallory Uttech, Sarah Vestweber, Anna Xiong; Soprano II — Natasha Ales, 
Alivia Dobbratz, Kaitlyn Kuchenbecker, Hailey Maurer, McKenzie Reimann, Katrina Strnad, Charlotte Wu; Alto I — Taylor Casperson, Macie Doyle, Courtney Hamilton, Olivia Helander, Brittany Int-Hout, Rebecca Kornowski, Jordan Parbs, Mallory Uttech; Alto II — Nicole Baeb,
 Taylor Gulbrand, Halle Johnson, Anastasia Lundquist, Madisen Lutz,
 Emily Pouli,
 Fantasia Robinson, Samantha Slater, Madeline Tiedt; Tenor — Alex Ashbeck, Aaron Hepp, Lane Ludtke, Josh Riehn; Baritone/Bass — Erik Larson,
 Misael Moya, Jordan Sisel, Michael Wallenfang.

UW-Green Bay Chorale: Soprano — Acacia Angelo, Ashley Bucholtz, Lindsey Buss, Lisa Ford, Anna Hoesley,
 Claire Kitzerow, Brittney Koerner, Sabrena Koren, Kaitlyn Kuchenbecker, Christa Lewin, Sydney St.Clair, Mallory Uttech, Madelyn Winter; Alto — Alysha Brooks, Laura Cortright, Maria Fannin, Samantha Gulino, Ashley Gutting, Kelsie Holtzheimer, Xinyi Liu, Lauren Paul,
 Rissel Peguero, Heather Roberts, Beth Waldeck, Brittany Welch, Lorelei Zimmerman; Tenor— Aaron Frye, 
Logan Gruszynski, Lane Ludtke, Craig Sampo, Jordan Sisel; Bass — Ryan Dummer, Gatlin Grimm, Bryan Konicek, Nicholas Schommer, Thomas Sielaff, Kevin Wellens.

UW-Green Bay Theatre presents ‘Theophilus North’

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre and Dance presents the comedic drama Theophilus North, a Jazz Age tale based on a semi-autobiographical story by Thornton Wilder, as its first production of the 2015-16 season.

The performances of Theophilus North will take place Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 15-17, and Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 21-24 at 7:30 p.m. each evening in the Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive. General admission prices at the door are $20 for the general public and $17 for seniors and students (discounted to $18 and $15 if purchased in advance). Tickets for currently enrolled UW-Green Bay students are $10.

Set in 1926, the play follows 30-year-old Theophilus North, who quits his teaching position in New Jersey and embarks on a quest for fun, adventure and his place in the world. When his used car breaks down, leaving him stranded in Newport, Rhode Island, Theophilus takes on odd jobs in houses of the wealthy.

The title role in the student production will be played by junior Evan Ash, a double major at UW-Green Bay and the recipient of the Irene A. Shewalter Memorial Scholarship for Theatre.

When asked about the role, Ash said, “I identify most with Theophilus, and I instantly fell in love with the journey he and the rest of the characters take during the show…The part I enjoy most about playing Theophilus is being able to project his aura of kindness and good-hearted nature and his willingness to help anyone.”

Theophilus North is written by Matthew Burnett based upon the semi-autobiographical final work of Wilder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning icon of American literature. The production is directed by Associate Prof. John Mariano.

For more information about this event, call 920-465-2944 or visit the Weidner Center website.


UW-Green Bay presents Wilder’s ‘Theophilus North’ as first play

We’ll have a link to full details in our Log Extra later this week, but we’re one week out from the UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance program’s production of the charming comedy-drama Theophilus North, which opens at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday (Oct. 15) in the Jean Weidner Theatre. Performances are Oct. 15-17 and 21-24. Set in 1926 during the height of the Jazz Age, the play follows the character Theophilus North as he quits his teaching position in New Jersey and embarks on a quest for fun, adventure and a place in the world. When his broken-down car strands him in Newport, Rhode Island, he makes do by doing odd jobs in homes of the wealthy. It’s a Matthew Burnett play based upon the semi-autobiographical final work of Pulitzer Prize-winner Thornton Wilder. For ticket info.

Also next Thursday: Rector-Hong piano duo

Again, full detail in our upcoming issue, but next Thursday (Oct. 15) marks the return of the UW-Green Bay Music Program’s ‘6:30 Thursdays’ program. The two-piano duo/husband and wife team of Sylvia Hong and Michael Rector (of the faculty), winners of the Ellis Duo Piano Competition, will offer an attractive program illuminating the power of harmony and repetition to create intense musical effects.

Searching for Romeo actor brings Sutton’s music to SWHS concert

Music from Prof. Brian Sutton’s original musical Searching for Romeo — in the form of the song “Come and Get Me, Here I Am” — will be heard Monday, Oct. 19, at Green Bay Southwest High School. The fall choir concert, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature the various choirs performing songs from musicals, TV shows, films, and in one case a video game. The Southwest choir director, Brandon Rockstroh, was also musical director and the male lead in the 2012 production of Searching for Romeo in the Jean Weidner Theatre in the Weidner Center. Fans of the show might notice that “Come and Get Me, Here I Am” wasn’t in the version of Sutton’s show staged on campus; the composer/playwright added it for the New York City theatre festival version of 2014.

Sounds of ‘6:30 Thursdays’ concert series feature Sylvia Hong and Michael Rector

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay continues its “music from every angle” 6:30 Thursdays experience with a two-piano duo/ husband and wife team, Sylvia Hong and Michael Rector. They will be presenting “The Music Trance” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 15 in Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at UW-Green Bay.

Hong and Rector are prize winners of the Ellis Duo Piano Competition and have concertized extensively in both the U.S. and abroad. Hong is Artist-in-Residence at Belhaven University; Rector is an assistant professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

In a program that illuminates the power of harmony and repetition to create intense musical effects, Hong and Rector will perform pieces by a stylistically diverse group of composers. Expression ranges from romantic yearning in Schubert’s Fantasy, to the architectonic force of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, and the developing ecstasy of John Adams’s Hallelujah Junction. The couple is committed to making the language of classical music vivid for people of all ages and backgrounds.

The “6:30 Thursdays” concert series is designed to connect campus and community to music in meaningful ways. Composers, performers and arrangers perform their work, offer commentary and lead discussion about diverse musical styles and the fact there are often multiple, varied ways to approach any given piece of music.

The 2015-16 “6:30 Thursdays” series features a wide array of musical styles and guest artists, including jazz, classical, contemporary, and “third-stream” music blending jazz and classical. All 6:30 Thursday events in Fort Howard Hall are free and open to the public. Donations are welcome. Remaining 2015 concerts are:

November 5 — “Travelogue” Marimba/clarinet duo Transient Canvas
November 12 — “Piano Per Diem: 30 Piano Pieces in 30 Days” Pianists Holly Roadfeldt and Michael Rector perform compositions by Michelle McQuade Dewhirst
December 3 — “Dragons, Stones and Circuses” Compositions by David Colson to be performed by UW-Green Bay faculty and friends


Joyous reunion: BlueWhale Coffeehouse returning to UWGB

If ever a joyous reunion can be
Let us share what we’ve gained and lost in between
We’ll find that the years, both kindly and cruel
Have failed to put distance between you and me

-Claudia Schmidt

And a joyous reunion it will be on Friday, October 16, 2015, when the friends of the former BlueWhale Coffeehouse gather at the Shorewood Golf Course Clubhouse for the return of Claudia Schmidt, Mark Dvorak, Skip Jones and Randal Harris. The event is in celebration of both Alumni Days and UW-Green Bay’s 50th anniversary celebration.

While the reunion cannot take place in the original Shorewood Club building that housed the BlueWhale Coffeehouse (it was torn down years ago), the concert will take place nearby in what was formerly the Shorewood Annex, directly across the sidewalk from where the former Shorewood Club stood.

And while there won’t be the knotty pine paneling, large stone fireplace, well-worn couches or frost-covered windows that gave the coffeehouse its unique ambiance, the original BlueWhale sign (painted by Mike Tincher and Teresa Bargielski in the late 1970’s) will grace the stage. It was rescued from a dumpster after the Club was torn down, and has been hanging in a barn in Bowler, Wis. for the last 35 years.

The showcase artist of the evening will be Schmidt, one of the premiere performers from the BlueWhale days, now an international performer known for her lively folk, jazz and blues and playful humor.

Schmidt, a student at UWGB for a time, played her 12-string guitar and dulcimer to standing-room-only crowds for many years, and went on to a remarkable career traveling the world as a folk singer and spoken word performer. The master of ceremonies for the evening will be folk singer Jones, a UWGB alumnus and BlueWhale regular. He will be joined by Harrison, a remarkable jazz violinist from Madison and Dvorak, a member of the faculty at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and popular guitar and banjo player who has toured throughout the Midwest and East Coast.

Many alumni have fond memories of Saturday evenings at the BlueWhale — in the 70s and early 80s considered one of the premiere folk music venues in the upper Midwest. Artists from all over the country would come through on tour, playing at Café Extempore in Minneapolis, then at the BlueWhale in Green Bay, and then on to venues in Madison or Chicago.

Some of those acts became folk music icons (Utah Phillips, Bill Staines, Gordon Bok and John McCutcheon all played at the Whale) and many others achieved regional and national acclaim (Greg Brown, Paul Cebar and Jones, among them).

It wasn’t just the music that drew students and community members to the BlueWhale, however. There was something magical about the place in its heyday — the music, the fireplace and the fellowship all flowed together to create a warm and friendly gathering place for a particular crowd of people who shared some common values and interests — the environment, folk music, art and social justice.

As that crowd reunites on Friday October 16, perhaps a few pounds heavier and with a little more gray, maybe a little of that magic can be recreated.

Doors open at 6:15 p.m. for socializing and reminiscing. The public is asked to bring memorabilia from the BlueWhale days (posters, programs, handbills, photos, etc) to share, and perhaps contribute to the UWGB archives. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. Price of admission is $15 (cash or check only—no credit cards), or free to those purchasing an Alumni Days admissions bracelet (entrance for two for $25) for all Alumni Days activities.


Feature written by Mike Stearney, a former BlueWhale patron and former UWGB Dean of Enrollment Services