Voices of the River to premiere music in ‘Folk Roots’ concert

The Voices of the River men’s chorus performs at the Forest Presbyterian Church, Lyons Falls, in the summer of 2018. Director Jason Matteson faces the audience from behind the podium toward center right. Photo submitted

LOWVILLE — Continuing the tradition of strong male singing in the North Country, the Voices of the River men’s chorus will present “Folk Roots” at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Lowville Presbyterian Church.

Featuring over 30 voices, the all-male chorus celebrates its return to Lowville Presbyterian by offering a program that pays homage to music that inspired many generations of songwriters and musicians through the centuries. The program will consist of folk music from the United States, Scotland, Ireland, and Canada.

Many of the selections to be performed were arranged by Jason Matteson, who has been the group’s director since its reestablishment in 2016, and by Michael White, a recent graduate of the Ithaca School of Music.

The original arrangements include many favorites: “Loch Lomond,” “Star of the County Down,”“Bonavist Harbor,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” and “The Wild Rover.” To open the concert, the chorus will perform a selection in Scottish Gaelic entitled “Tha Mi Sgith”, written by Mr. Matteson, who has dedicated it to the men of the chorus.

“I’m very impressed with the sound we’ve developed over the past five weeks. Our accompanist Mel Chalker plays very musically and Jason Matteson, the director of the group, does a great job in selecting music that brings out the best that a male choir can offer,” said Leon Austin, a singer in the chorus who is also the music director at the Lowville Presbyterian Church.

In addition to piano accompaniment by Mel Chalker, the chorus will be performing with guest instrumentalists Luke Vanderlan on Scottish smallpipes, Emily Morisette on flute and Erin Lennon on percussion.

The chorus has presented successful summer programs over the past three years at Forest Presbyterian Church in Lyons Falls. In 2016, “I’m Bound Away” re-established the chorus with its collection of traditional sea shanties and songs of the sea. In 2017, the chorus presented “Tenting Tonight,” a musical portrait of the American Civil War, which featured school musicians from Remsen School District and Claire Haile of Boonville as a soprano soloist.

Then, in 2018, the choir split from historical themes and focused on pieces that, using classic poetry, explored themes that encapsulated the human experience. “Sure on this Shining Night” included a collaboration with ladies from the Adirondack Community Chorus in singing “Omnia Sol” and ended with a rousing all-male rendition of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s “Spamalot.” This concert garnered two standing ovations.

As in previous years, “Folk Roots” is free to the public. However, charitable donations are more than welcome to help the group with the purchase of new music and other expenses for future concerts.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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