Changes mark start of group's 21st year

Chorus: A new music director and new surroundings await members of the Arundel Vocal Arts Society.

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Arundel Live

August 12, 2004|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Arundel Vocal Arts Society embarks on its 21st season with a number of changes - in musical director and in locations of rehearsals and performances.

Glenette Schumacher, who has served as music director since 1994, announced last spring that she will be taking a year off to pursue graduate studies. After a rigorous selection process that included the two finalists conducting a rehearsal, Betty-Ann Lynerd was chosen to direct the Annapolis-based chorus during the 2004-05 season.

"We're excited about this change," said volunteer and AVAS president Sandra Boyd. "We'll miss Glenette, but we respect that she wants a break after 10 years, and we're grateful to her for the work she has done. Betty-Ann has impressive credentials, and working with her will be a learning experience that will raise our level of professionalism."

Another change is in the rehearsal location; beginning Sept. 8, rehearsals will be held at St. Philips Episcopal Church off Bestgate Road. AVAS' usual rehearsal location at Woods Memorial Community Center is undergoing extensive renovations and will not be available.

Hoping to increase the number of AVAS singers, Boyd said, "All people who love to sing are welcome to join us at rehearsal, both our old members and new ones."

Doctoral candidate

A college educator for 30 years, Lynerd is a doctoral candidate at Trinity Theological Seminary and serves as director of music at Grace Presbyterian Church in Lanham. Known as an energetic rehearsal engineer, Lynerd said she looks forward to the start of rehearsals, which she said she enjoys as much as conducting performances. At her one rehearsal with them, Lynerd found AVAS singers to be "very open and receptive."

She said she views upoming rehearsals as a "wonderful opportunity to serve communities like Crofton and Davidsonville, who are without community choruses."

The Arundel Vocal Arts Society, with about 50 members, began in 1983 when Ava Shields founded the group and conducted it for the first decade. The AVAS enjoyed such highlights as singing before Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1990 and joining other concert choirs in a 1995 Carnegie Hall concert when combined choirs sang Rutter's "Magnificat" and "Te Deum."

Of her immediate goals, Lynerd said, "I want to provide a rigorous rehearsal environment for the singers while bringing them to a pleasing and fruitful artistic experience. I have picked music that will offer great opportunities for expansion.

"In programming choices, I want to bring to the community more of the extended shorter pieces that have a lot of heft, reaching into the academic repertory for a performance of shining artistic integrity and pleasure," she said.

First concert Dec. 12

Appropriately titled "New Traditions," the first concert under Lynerd will be at Calvary United Methodist Church on Rowe Boulevard on Dec. 12. The program will include Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" - at about 12 minutes the longest work on the program. It features a baritone solo and cello with baritone Bill Gabbard from the Soldiers' Chorus slated as soloist.

The other pieces are shorter but still substantial. John Tavener's "The Lamb" is ethereal and edgy. Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria" is a late-20th-century work set in seven voice parts. A Nigerian carol, Olatunji's "Betelehemu," will also be presented.

The spring concert program will include works by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern and others.

Anyone wishing to become an arts society member should contact Betty-Ann Lynerd at balynerd@comcast.net.

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