Voces8, an internationally celebrated a cappella vocal ensemble based in London, England, will make their 11th appearance at Eastern Mennonite School February 15 and 16, 2020. For the first time, the group will be hosted collaboratively with the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir.
Bringing the high school and children’s choir together for master classes and performance builds on the decade-long relationship that the school developed with Voces8 to further excellence in music appreciation, performance and exposure.
Jay Hartzler, former EMS choir director, learned about Voces8 from a friend who heard them at an American Choral Directors Association meeting in 2008. He invited them to the school, combining master class opportunities for the school choirs with performances that have delighted the school community as well as broader audiences with each visit.
Voces8 has performed to EMHS nine times missing only 2019 in the past 10 years due to a scheduling conflict. The stop is an unusual one for the group because it is the one place where they stay in local homes.
“Visiting EMHS enables us to be exposed to the ethos of this amazing community, and it helps remind us what making music should really be about: family, community and sharing our gifts for the enhancement of society and the world around us.” says Barney Smith, co-founder, artistic director and countertenor.
“It’s like coming home,” Smith continues. “We love the welcome, hospitality and the interaction; it’s a really special place for us. The students are unique not just for their talent, but for their thirst for knowledge and desire to go out and do something good for the world; it’s very inspiring.”
“The relationship with Voces8 has broadened our students’ musical exposure and provided exceptional master class training experiences,” says Jared Stutzman, EMS choir director.
In addition to hearing and studying with the ensemble at their own school, past EMHS choirs have worked with the group in London. Most recently, in June of 2018, Stutzman led the EMHS Touring Choir on a month-long European tour, which included time at the Voces8 Centre, an “international centre of excellence for vocal music performance, outreach and education in the heart of London,” according to its website.
The idea of joining with the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir to host Voces8 has been in the works for nearly two years.
“We are thrilled for this experience for our choristers,” says Janet Hostetter, SVCC artistic and executive director. “Our choristers take seriously the challenge to pursue artistry and excellence in singing. What better way for them to continue growing vocally than to work with a renowned octet that is known globally for their vocal expertise?”A special feature will be the premiere of “The Arrow and the Song,” a piece commissioned by SVCC and EMS featuring the two choirs performing with Voces8. Paul Smith composed the piece using the poem by the same name by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Smith is CEO of VCM Foundation, co-founder of Voces8 and author of the Voces8 Method.
Program and Ticket Information
A program featuring Voces8, as well as selections with SVCC and the EMHS Touring Choir, will take place Saturday, Feb . 15 and Sunday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the EMS auditorium. It will be the same program both times.
Tickets are $30 advance purchase or $35 at the door. General admission tickets will go on sale January 6, 2020. There are no reserved seats. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets will be available for purchase online or at the school’s front office at 801 Parkwood Drive, Harrisonburg, Virginia between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. Call 540-236-6025 with questions.
A dessert reception during intermission at each concert will benefit the EMHS Touring Choir trip to England, Netherlands, and Germany in June 2020.