Fairfax Choral Society Blog


Carmina Burana and FCS – a Magnificent Combination

On Saturday, May 10, FCS’ Symphonic Chorus, Master Singers and Concert Choir will join with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra to perform Carl Orff’s exuberant scenic cantata, Carmina Burana, under the baton of maestro Christopher Zimmerman.  Carmina ranks with Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as one of the most popular choral/orchestral works ever written. Composed by Orff in 1936, the work is based on a cycle of 24 poems from a 13th century manuscript found in a Benedictine abbey near Munich.  The poems – some say composed by defrocked monks – cover a wide range of topics as familiar today as they were in medieval times:  love, lust, the pleasures of drinking, and the elation felt upon the return of spring, to name a few.  No buttoned-up classical music in this work!  Some also say its popularity is due to it ubiquity in popular culture – including in film scores and TV commercials used to sell everything from cars to aftershave. Carl Orff (1895-1982), also an influential music educator, takes the listener on a musical adventure through the perils of fate and fortune in three sections of Carmina:  “In Spring,” “In the Tavern,” and “The Court of Love,” along with a powerful opening prologue – “O Fortuna” – and an echoing finale.  Orff originally envisioned the piece as a total theater experience, including including dance, choreography, costumes, and stage action.  Its original 1937 performance in Frankfurt by the Frankfurt Opera included all of these elements, and was a resounding success. Even more popular today, Carmina is now usually performed as a cantata – a big, bold, roller coaster ride... read more

A Few Minutes With . . . Director of Youth Programs Patrick F. Vaughn

If there is one person who is the heart and soul of FCS’ youth chorus program, it is Director of Youth Programs Patrick F. Vaughn.  Vaughn, who has been with FCS for the last eight seasons, oversees all performing ensembles and conducts the Concert Choir and Master Singers.  He also serves as the Director of Music Ministries at Annandale United Methodist Church, where he oversees musicians in eight vocal and instrumental ensembles.  He’s a former high school choir director and music teacher, and is the co-founder and artistic director of Brethren, a men’s ensemble comprised of professional, military, and church musicians.  Oh, and he sings tenor in the FCS Symphonic Chorus! Vaughn’s busy and musical family include his wife Margaret Vaughn, a soprano in the FCS Symphonic Chorus and a pre-school music teacher at AUMC, and his four children – all FCS Youth Chorus members – Wesley, Claire, Hannah, and Joshua.  Here are a few words of wisdom about music, singing, and life from “Mr. V”! When did you first start playing or singing music? My first memory of singing was in a Christmas play at church when I was 5 or 6. My first instrument was a tuba! What led you to make a career of teaching and directing? I received a lot of encouragement from my High School choir director. Your children are very musical too!  How do you encourage a love of music in your kids?  I expose them to music every chance I get, and we SING ALL THE TIME!!! Seems like you probably don’t have time for much else other than singing and directing!  When you do have... read more

The Poetry of Music – Time for Some Fun!

On April 1, we’ll celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Poetry of Music project with some musical fun – and we’re not fooling!  A highlight our Youth Chorus program year, The Poetry of Music concert features choral works based on the poetry of local youth set to music by nationally renowned composers.  The resulting works are premiered by our advanced youth choirs in a concert to remember!  This year’s concert – The Poetry of Music:  Fun ‘n Nonsense – will feature songs just right for the holiday celebrating the silliness in all of us – April Fool’s Day! As part of the evening, we’re delighted to honor the accomplishments of two very talented young lyricists, whose poem were selected by our composers this year.  Trent Cohen’s enchanting comical poem “Jiggle Wiggle” fairly bounces with jumping, jiggly wiggly fun.  It was set to music by composer Douglas Beam, and the resulting piece – “A Piece of Pie” – will be performed by our Central and West Campus Treble Choirs.  Trent is a 5th grader at Daniels Run Elementary School in Fairfax.  He came up with his poem after being provided the opportunity to “dig into” the poem the “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll by his “Higher Order Thinking” teacher Ms. Erica Berson.  Trent is also a runner, soccer player, violinist, school safety patrol, and is on the Student Council. Our Concert Choir will be privileged to premier the work “I Ask For One Day” based on the poem “One Day” by 8th Grade Lanier Middle School student Claire Latimer, with music by composer Jim Papoulis.  Claire sings in the school chorus, is... read more

A Few Minutes With . . . FCS Board Chair Paul Salbert

This fall FCS welcomed a new Board of Directors Chairperson, Dr. Paul Salbert.  Paul, who has a primary care and sports medicine practice in Burke, VA, says he “grew up as an audiophile and curbed eighteen months of piano with the study of medicine.”  After rekindling his love of music in the early 2000s, he now sings bass with the FCS Adult Chorus and has offered his talents and energy to the FCS Board of Directors since 2011.  He looks forward to supporting the musical growth of FCS this season and beyond. Read what Paul has to say about singing with FCS and helping others find their voice in the organization as well. What is your background in choral singing? When did you start singing for FCS? I began voice lessons in 2001 when a band mate sought backup vocals for a church music group.  I joined a very small choir in 2003 while supporting a local country church.  In 2008 my voice teacher encouraged me to audition for FCS, as she knew it would enhance my study of music. How do you fit rehearsals and Board work for FCS into your busy schedule?    FCS is a priority for me, and music is vital part of my life – so it naturally fits.  My wife and family support it, too.  The many rewards outweigh the time it takes! I know there are a lot of folks who are – how can I put this? – timid about auditioning for a choir.  What tips or advice do you have for them? TV singing competitions have probably jaded the audition process... read more

Trumpets Sound and Voices Ring for the Holidays!

Trumpets Sound! Voices Ring! Hot off the presses, the CD was recorded at the magnificent National Presbyterian Church (NPC) this October, and features the FCS Adult Chorus, Master Singers, and Concert Choir, along with the internationally acclaimed Washington Symphonic Brass and NPC’s glorious John Jay Hopkins Memorial pipe organ. Those who enjoy familiar Christmas carols are in luck with this new recording – but so are those hankering for a twist on traditional yuletide favorites.  Each of the recording’s selections is a beloved holiday song offered in a new or unusual setting.  Take John Wasson’s “Festival Fanfare for Christmas,” originally commissioned by the Dallas Symphony for full orchestra.  Our version is an exhilarating new setting for brass, organ, percussion, and harp, re-arranged for the occasion by Dr. Wasson and FCS Artistic Director Douglas Mears.  Phil Snedecor, co-founder of the Washington Symphonic Brass, also arranged many of these holiday pieces to feature the splendid sounds of his 15-member ensemble. You can have a listen to a few snippets of the CD here:  the classic Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and the lively In Dulci Jubilo. Work on Trumpets Sound! Voices Ring! began in the spring and summer of 2013, as Mears and Snedecor listened, re-arranged, and re-imagined classic holiday works from a variety of traditions and eras.  Recording of the choral works was completed in October, when the National Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary provided the space and exquisite acoustics for over 200 musicians, including singers, brass players, harpist Angelina Savoia, and renowned concert organist Eric Plutz.  Plutz will be playing the NPC organ again in March 2014, when FCS will host... read more

FCS Supports Music in the Schools

Here at FCS we are committed to supporting music education both within and outside of our organization.  We are pleased to offer the use of our large choral music library to school music teachers and choral instructors throughout the area.  Teachers, feel free to peruse our library or give us a call for more information.  Music can be borrowed for up to three months at a time. And teachers – watch for our wonderful annual Poetry of Music concert in March, featuring poems and artwork by local students.  All of our March youth concerts are free to K-12 public and private school teachers.  Check us out – we’d love to see you... read more
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