March 9-22, 2001
(no issue March 16 due to Spring Break)
Matthews family gives $500,000
General Faculty Council holding elections online
Library honors Madison's contributions to U.Va.
WFPA seeking nominations

Students vote down three of four proposed Honor System reforms

Nondiscrimination policy
Undergraduate engineers launch real-world NASA project
In Memoriam
U.Va. tapped to study acute lung injury
Hot Links -- Jackson Davis Collection
Communications projects recognized
Notable -- awards and achievements of faculty and staff
Not just an 'everyday' experience -- photo
Special trio closes concert series
After Hours -- Zephyrus
Back Issues

Bill Sublette
Zephyrus will perform a concert featuring the music of George Frederick Handel March 25 at 8 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. See the group's Web site and listen to sound clips at

By Nancy Hurrelbrinck

If I go more than a week without singing, I feel unhappy, unhealthy," said U.Va. historian Cinder Stanton, a member of Zephyrus, a local early music ensemble.
Others in the group, three quarters of whose members are U.Va. employees, concurred. "The music is transcendent," said Dr. Jonathan Christiansen, a clinical and research fellow in cardiology. "It's an opportunity to step back and feel like you're off what's sometimes a treadmill existence. It's very therapeutic."

A 20-member group conducted by Paul Walker, director of U.Va.'s Early Music Ensemble, Zephyrus has performed a wide variety of works, from polyphonic chants to early Baroque pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries, for local audiences since 1991.

A non-profit organization, the group started when a former student of Walker's asked if he'd be interested in leading a vocal ensemble if she and some local singers organized it. They gathered nine people, and Zephyrus was born.


Director and alto – Paul Walker (Director, U.Va. Early Music Ensemble)

Marcia Day Childress, assistant professor and co-director, Program of Humanities in Medicine in the School of Medicine
Penny Christiansen, evaluation & development project assistant, IQ Health
Jenny Wyss-Jones, special assistant to the vice president for development
(Other sopranos: Amy Garrou, former assistant dean of admission; Diane Nelson)

Astrid Henriksen, senior prospect researcher, University development office
Lucia (Cinder) Stanton, scholar-in-residence, history department
Sandy Snyder, research assistant, pharmacology department
Diane Parr Walker, associate librarian for user services

William Anderson, clinical psychologist, Counseling & Psychological Services
Steve Bognaski, information systems analyst, Heart Center
Dr. Ben Sturgill, professor of pathology and associate director of admission, School of Medicine
(Other tenors: Kevin O’Halloran, John Barker)

Dr. Jonathan Christiansen, clinical and research fellow, cardiology department
Charles Giffen, associate professor, mathematics department
David Kovacs (on leave 2000-2001) - professor, classics department
Raymond Winters Jr., chaplain resident, Department of Chaplaincy Services and Pastoral Education
(Other bass: Bill Goldeen)

"You can do something like this on no capital, and that's what we did," said Walker, who has a Ph.D. in musicology from SUNY-Buffalo and is choirmaster at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville.

Of the nine original members, five are still with the group, including Walker and his wife, Dianne Parr Walker, associate university librarian for user services.

Walker said he's pleased with the low attrition rate. "It's a very committed group — which is how we've been able to achieve the level we've achieved practicing two hours a week for eight months of the year."

Zephyrus has a high profile for an amateur ensemble, having issued two CDs, "Nativity" in 1997 and "Angelus" last year. They happily accepted an invitation to be choir-in-residence at Christchurch Cathedral in Oxford, England for four days in August.

"It's pretty rare to have a group like this outside of large metropolitan areas," said Stanton, scholar-in-residence in U.Va.'s history department, as well as a historian at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, affiliated with Monticello.

"Some choirs are very good, but don't consist of excellent individual singers," said Christiansen, a native of New Zealand who's sung in several other choirs. He joined Zephyrus nine months ago with his wife Penny Christiansen, an evaluation and development project assistant at IQ Health Virginia.

"Everyone in this group is very good, has a well-trained voice. This allows [us] to do a lot of music that has complex interactions between the soloist and the choir," without having to bring in outside soloists, he said.

Nearly every member of Zephyrus has studied with Sally Sanford, a well-known singer-scholar and voice teacher in early music from Boston, who visits Charlottesville regularly and produced the group's first recording.

It's important that all members have strong voices, because early music generally involves counterpoint, that is, several independent lines that blend together, Walker said.

While not as technically difficult as later music, early music is very subtle and sophisticated, he said. "It's about the individual being subordinate to the whole. … Everyone participating has interesting music all the time. It doesn't matter what part you sing."

"I like the structure of the music," said Jenny Wyss-Jones, special assistant to the vice president for development, who joined the group in 1995. "You can really hear the melodic lines and … how the harmonies work."

"There's something magical when the different parts really lock in," said Stanton, who joined the group in 1991. "Instead of just being a thread out there blowing in the wind, the part that I'm singing, my line, starts to connect with another thread, to interweave with someone else's part."

Stanton said she enjoys the variety of music the group performs, noting that Sanford describes the sounds of medieval and Renaissance music as bricks and pearls, respectively.

"The earlier music is more full-throated and intense; there's more sound coming out than when we're trying to sound like choir boys or angels" while performing Renaissance music, she said.

Christiansen said he appreciates the historical perspective Walker brings to the group. "He'll stop and tell you in the middle of a rehearsal where a chant derives from. … You become a kind of archaeologist, unearthing the music."

Singing represents a welcome reprieve from an often challenging day job, he said. "As a physician, you're often faced with tragedy, but you have to maintain a level of detachment. I think music allows some emotional expression that isn't possible [during the workday]."

Wyss-Jones also said singing helps balance her work. "Just being involved in something you can dedicate yourself to …can make you more focused at work, because you're more fulfilled."


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