It may look cloudy overhead, but you know what’s even higher up than our seasonal gloom? Blue skies, a gleaming sun and shining stars.
Reprise Choir’s upcoming concert series, titled “Beyond The Dawn,” is all about music of those elusive yet dependable spheres. Audiences can even expect an invitation to return to childhood and sing along with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” according to co-director April Duvic.
“Every piece has to do with stars and galaxies,” said co-director Janet Reiter. “It’s not a religious emphasis, but we are looking to the heavens.”
Formed by longtime local voice teachers and choir directors Reiter and Duvic in 2016, the 34-voice Reprise Choir includes many seasoned singers and local music educators. It’s a hand-picked, ambitious group that aims for pro-level musical quality, Duvic said.
At the same time, Duvic said, the group’s mission is to cultivate young singers. That’s why Reprise always seeks out student choirs as concert guest stars. The first concert in the upcoming “Beyond The Dawn” series will be March 16 at La Center Middle School, where Reprise will be joined by La Center middle- and high-school choral students and their director, Rhonda Catchpole.
The second and third concerts on March 18 and 19 are set for Vancouver First United Methodist Church. Both concerts will feature a string quintet, solo oboe and Reiter sharing the piano keyboard with the church’s music director, renowned concert organist Martin Ellis, on the opening piece “Light Dawns on a Weary World” by Mary Louise Bringle and Mack Wilberg.
Next up is George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.”
“We couldn’t leave the Beatles out,” Duvic said. “It’s a simple, upbeat piece that the whole choir just grooves on.”
Following that is a mix of relatively new pieces by contemporary composers, classics like “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin and “The Heavens are Telling” by Joseph Haydn, and a grand finale by Joseph M. Martin from 2017 called “The Stars.”
The concert’s penultimate piece, “The Dawn,” strikes close to home. At Duvic’s prompting, the Reprise Choir board of directors commissioned award-winning Washington composer Daniel Schreiner to write it in honor of Reiter’s husband, Gordon, who died in summer 2022.
“Gordon was a tremendous music supporter and musician in his own right,” Duvic said.
According to his obituary, Gordon Reiter was a talented pianist who played by ear, yet had an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and pop standards. After he retired, he volunteered as lobby pianist for local hospitals. He was a good friend to Reprise and a friend of composer Daniel Schreiner too, Janet Reiter said.
Schreiner, who is based in Auburn and teaches in area school districts, made it to a recent Reprise rehearsal to “put his own beautiful touches on the piece,” Janet Reiter said.
She said that performing the piece with the choir will be overwhelmingly poignant.
“I hope I can do it justice,” she said.