Troy Paradio and PolyChoral Concert

Troy Paradio and PolyChoral Concert

Troy Riverfront Park to EMPAC Concert Hall

April 6, 2011 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM


Come join Choirs from RPI, UAlbany, Saint Rose, and the Sage College in a singular choral event. At 6 pm, we meet at Riverfront Park for Troy Paradio. The choirs will move through the streets of Troy, singing an original work by Canadian composer Kathy Kennedy. Troy Paradio is accompanied by an electronic soundtrack broadcast live on WRPI 91.5 At 7 pm, the performance continues with a concert inside the EMPAC Concert Hall.

The choirs and their conductors:
RPI Concert Chorale : John Ryan
University at Albany : David Griggs-Janower
College of St Rose : Michael Levi
The Sage College : Michael Musial


Antonio Caldara:  Crucifixus for 16 voices

Kathy Kennedy:  Paradio Reprise

Javier Busto:  Ave maris stella

Frank Ticheli:  Earth Song

Ralph Vaughan Williams:  Kyrie from Mass in G

Zoltan Kodaly:  Mountain Nights

Mary Jane Leach:  Ariel's Song

Pauline Oliveros:  Tuning Meditation

NOTE: For audience parking at Riverfront Park to attend Troy Paradio at 6 pm, a shuttle will run from EMPAC back to the Park following the performance in the concert hall.

Sponsored by the Office of the President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Presented by the Arts Department, RPI.


Preview by
By Joseph Dalton Special to the Times Union

'PolyChoral Project' aims to fill Troy with song

'PolyChoral Project' aims to bring song throughout Troy
Published 12:00 a.m., Thursday, March 31, 2011

If you've ever strolled along a city street while humming or singing, then you might identify with Kathy Kennedy. Over the past several months, she's been taking "sound walks" throughout downtown Troy.

"The term 'sound walk' comes from the field of acoustic ecology, which is so big up here in Canada," says Kennedy, a Montreal composer. "The central element is exploring your environment by hearing your voice and observing the acoustics all around you. I found the acoustics of Broadway to be good, especially good for singing."

More than a relaxing amble, Kennedy's sound walks have been part of her research for a new work that will be performed Wednesday night by about 200 local college singers -- on the streets of Troy.

Kennedy's "Paradio" will begin at 6 p.m. at Riverfront Park. Singers and audience will process down Third Street and across Broadway to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Approach (the grand concrete staircase leading up the hill to the campus) and on to EMPAC, where a more traditional choral music concert will then take place.

The participating choirs are from the University at Albany, The College of Saint RoseSage College and RPI. Each group will perform on its own during the formal program in the EMPAC concert hall, under the direction of its respective conductor. For the outdoor performance, there is no actual conductor, although Kennedy has built in a very specific method to keep all the singers together, even if they're located a block or two apart.

WRPI will broadcast a musical accompaniment that will be monitored by the singers through boomboxes or sundry other devices.

"The radio pulls things together, so they'll be moving together, though not in a strict military model," says Kennedy. "This could also be done if you hooked up gigantic speakers that just blasted it. But this is so much more elegant and not annoyingly loud either. A conventional P.A. system is always too loud in some spots and too soft somewhere else."

"Paradio" -- the title is combination of the words "parade" and "radio" -- is only the latest outdoor vocal event created by Kennedy. But its content, as well as its choreography, is unique to Troy. The choral texts include names of streets and places plus directions, while the radio accompaniment (also by Kennedy) features not just musical instruments and electronic sounds, but also excepts from discussions with local writer and urban theorist James Howard Kunstler.

"I am concerned about people's sense of belonging in their cityscape. That's one of the essential themes that goes through all my pieces," say Kennedy. "Troy is interesting in that it represents people on all social strata, and I find something very poetic or ironic beginning our event at the Hudson River and climbing up this hill to make music into the concert hall."

The subsequent concert will include more traditional selections from each choir, as well as excerpts from "Paradio" and three additional works also to performed by the combined choirs. These include Baroque composer Antonio Caldara's "Crucifixus," one of the earliest examples of choral polyphony (multi-part singing), plus pieces by two RPI faculty members.

Pauline Oliveros' "World Tuning Meditation" is a participatory piece relying on improvisation that Kennedy describes as becoming "something special" when performed just by trained singers. "Ariel's Song" by Mary Jane Leach is for women's voices dispersed throughout the hall. "The audience is surrounded by these beautiful voices, and it reminds me of birds or angels," says Kennedy. "It has an airy, ethereal feeling, especially in the beautiful acoustics of EMPAC."

For the singers, such a broad mix of material has been a workout, but also surprisingly enjoyable.

"They're very trained and accomplished," observes Kennedy. "In rehearsal, I see them having fun at this section where it sounds like they're rapping. But I see they're thinking maybe they're not supposed to enjoy it, because this is experimental. I look at them and say it's really OK."

Joseph Dalton is a regular contributor to the Times Union.

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