will perform a concert featuring the music of George Frederick
Handel March 25 at 8 p.m. at St. Pauls Episcopal Church.
See the group's Web site and listen to sound clips at http://www.avenue.org/zephyrus.
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
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.
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.
and alto Paul Walker (Director, U.Va. Early Music
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
(Other sopranos: Amy Garrou, former assistant dean of
admission; Diane Nelson)
Astrid Henriksen, senior prospect researcher, University
Lucia (Cinder) Stanton, scholar-in-residence, history
Sandy Snyder, research assistant, pharmacology department
Diane Parr Walker, associate librarian for user services
William Anderson, clinical psychologist, Counseling &
Steve Bognaski, information systems analyst, Heart Center
Dr. Ben Sturgill, professor of pathology and associate
director of admission, School of Medicine
(Other tenors: Kevin OHalloran, John Barker)
Dr. Jonathan Christiansen, clinical and research fellow,
Charles Giffen, associate professor, mathematics department
David Kovacs (on leave 2000-2001) - professor, classics
Raymond Winters Jr., chaplain resident, Department of
Chaplaincy Services and Pastoral Education
(Other bass: Bill Goldeen)
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.
the nine original members, five are still with the group, including
Walker and his wife, Dianne Parr Walker, associate university
librarian for user services.
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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
important that all members have strong voices, because early music
generally involves counterpoint, that is, several independent
lines that blend together, Walker said.
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.
has interesting music all the time. It doesn't matter what
part you sing."
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
how the harmonies work."
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."
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.
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,
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."
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
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."