|My work is done, my task is o’er . . .
– John Henry Cardinal Newman
“Founded in 1998 by Director Emeritus John Renke, Schola Cantorum San Francisco (SCHOLASF) has caught the attention of audiences and critics in and beyond the Bay Area for its purity of sound, careful tuning, and fine blend of voices. Especially known for its interpretations of Renaissance polyphony, the group is equally at home in a broad range of choral styles, from Gregorian chant to contemporary works.
“The resident liturgical choir at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi until 2005, the ensemble was reorganized in that year as an independent, non-profit arts organization. SCHOLASF now offers its treasured gift of music for liturgies, concerts, and private events, as well as educational and community outreach programs, throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The choir’s first two CDs, Pilgrimage: Music from the National Shrine of Saint Francis and This Christmas Night, have been critically acclaimed internationally, garnering praise for a sound ‘equal to the best of the mixed-voice choirs in Great Britain.’ Now available, Schola Live!, SCHOLASF’s third release and first live recording, features selections drawn from concerts recorded throughout the 2006-2007 season.”
A bio, like the one above, is a strange beast, and it is difficult to create one that says precisely what it needs to say, without saying too little or too much. I find it interesting to read bios by accomplished artists and ensembles that seemingly fall short of their greatness; and conversely, I can’t help but notice pretense in an extensive description.
While I sing professionally with ScholaSF, I am also a member of the board. One of board’s many achievements this year was the creation of this bio. I think it does the group justice in an unassuming, balanced way; although, I do think it may fall a bit short. This is a great group (not just because I’m in it), whose scope and potential occupies more than a few sentences.
So many strides have been made since the end of the 2006-2007 season, most visibly manifested in the recent release of Schola Live!, the group’s third CD. I was the project manager, which, in short, means I spewed commands and coordinated tasks to ensure all of the work was being done. That way, at the end of the process, it would all come together. It was a long, arduous process that, at the time, felt like an eternity. I only desired the finished product.
One major part of the process was figuring out which tracks were to be featured on the CD. We came up with a democratic solution: a listening party! Members of the group were invited to a singer’s home, and we listened to the entire 2006-2007 season during multiple sessions. A rating system was developed to include the highest rated tracks on the CD.
Michelle Clair (soprano and graphics designer for the CD) did some amazing work. She created an incredibly stunning CD jacket, tray card, and disc-print. The visual artwork undoubtedly matches the beauty of the CD’s aural contents, which is a difficult feat to accomplish, I must say!
Steven Massey (honorary member and another soprano’s partner) was key to making this possible. Not only was he involved in the act of recording our concerts, he also engineered the entire CD. For those of you involved in recording, you know well that good ensembles can quickly sound terrible if poorly recorded and engineered. The Schola is forever grateful for the countless hours Steven invested in the group.
Schola Live! was made available for sale in early December, and sold very well at our concerts in December and January. Of course, it continues to be sold on ScholaSF’s website, and at most ScholaSF concerts.
A couple of samples from Schola Live! are available below for your listening pleasure. If you like what you hear, please consider purchasing CDs by visiting ScholaSF’s website at www.scholasf.org.
|Ave Maris Stella by Trond Kverno||Rise Up, My Fair One by Healy Willan|