× Upcoming Events Dean's Circle Donate Email Sign-up Staff Shenandoah Conservatory Past Events
Image for Wind Ensemble & Choral Ensembles
Wind Ensemble & Choral Ensembles
09.25.21 | Armstrong Concert Hall
COVID-19 Safety

Masks are required at all times for all patrons and visitors regardless of vaccination status during all indoor performances taking place at Shenandoah Conservatory. Masks must be worn in the lobby, inside the theatre/concert hall and in the restrooms.


Performing artists will perform unmasked only if they are fully vaccinated and have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their performance(s).

Learn More >
Wind Ensemble & Choral Ensembles




Hillary Ridgley, director
Noah Wagar, assistant director

Matt Oltman, director
Constantina Spyropoulos, assistant director
Drew Young, assistant director

Matt Oltman, director

Timothy J. Robbleedirector


Amazing Grace from Ower the Hills
arr. Stephen Hatfield (b. 1956)

Lee R. Kesselman (b. 1951): So Is My Beloved from Song of Songs


Hillary Ridgley,* director
Noah Wagar, assistant director
Zach Gnall, oboe
Sarah Gorman, piano

Traditional American Folk Song: Red River Valley
arr. Tripp Carter

Traditional Sea Shanty: Away to Rio!      
arr. Marshall Bartholomew

Matt Oltman,* director
Drew Young and Constantina Spyropoulos, assistant directors

Carlos Cordero (b. 1992): Holding Our Breath (Winner of the 2020 ACDA Genesis Prize) 

Ysaÿe Barnwell (b. 1946): Breaths

Matt Oltman,* director
Matthew Neal, percussion

- intermission -

Kenneth Amis (b. 1970): Spring Overture

Alex Shapiro (b. 1962): Breathe

Nick Peretti, sound engineer

Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882–1961): Lincolnshire Posy 

I. Lisbon
II. Horkstow Grange
III. Rufford Park Poachers
IV. The Brisk Young Sailor
V. Lord Melbourne
VI. The Lost Lady Found

Timothy J. Robblee,* director

Traditional American Folk Song: Shenandoah
Vocal arr. James Erb 
Wind Ensemble arr. Jonathan Wyatt ‘19


Matt Oltman,* director

*denotes Shenandoah Conservatory faculty

Text & Translations
John Newton (1725–1807)

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.
How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.  

The hour I first believed, was blind, but now I see.

SO IS MY BELOVED by Lee R. Kesselman
The Song of Songs 2: 3-5

As an apple tree among the trees; As an apple tree among the wood,
So is my beloved, among the sons.

Under its shadow I delighted to sit. And its fruit was sweet to my taste.
He hath brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me is love.

Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples;
For I am love-sick.


From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That had brightened our pathways awhile 

For a long time my dear I’ve been waiting
For those words that you never would say 
Now alas must my fond hopes all vanish 
For they say you are going away

Come and sit by my side if you love me 
Do not hasten to bid me adieu 
Just remember the red river valley
And the one who has loved you so true 

They will bury me where you have wondered 
Near the hills where the daffodils grow
When you’re gone from the red river valley 
For I can’t live without you I know

Traditional Sea Shanty

The Anchor is weighed and the sails they are set
Away Rio!
The girls that we’re leaving we’ll never forget,
And we’re bound for the Rio Grande,

And away, Rio! Aye, Rio!
Sing fare thee well, my pretty young girls, and
We’re bound for the Rio Grande

We've a jolly good ship, and a jolly good crew,
Away, Rio!
A jolly good mate, and a good skipper, too,
For we're bound for the Rio Grande,

And away, Rio! Aye, Rio!
Sing fare-ye-well, my bonnie young girl,
For we're bound for the Rio Grande!

Holding Our Breath
Julie Flanders

Can you Breathe? Can you breathe? Can you breathe?
Help me, Please, I can't breathe, help me please,
I can’t breathe, help me please, I can’t breathe, help me.

I can’t breathe…

Can you breathe? Can you breathe? Can you breathe?
Can we breathe again? We are holding on, holding our breath.
With this one breath I pray, With this one breath I hope.
With this one breath I let go. I stay, I stay.
I say I love you, I say I love you, I say goodbye

With this one breath, we breathe, we breathe again,
We breathe, we breathe again, again, we breathe again,
We breathe again, We breathe, We breathe.

BREATHS by Ysaÿe Barnwell
Birago Diop (1906–1989)

Listen more often to things than to beings,
Listen more often to things than to beings.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath when the fire’s voice is heard.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath in the voice of the waters.

Those who have died, have never, never left.
The dead are not under the earth.
They are in the rustling trees, they are in the groaning woods.
They are in the crying grass. They are in the moaning rocks.
The dead are not under the earth.

So listen more often to things than to beings,
Listen more often to things than to beings.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath when the fire’s voice is heard.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath in the voice of the waters.

Those who have died, have never, never left.
The dead have a pact with the living.
They are in the woman’s breast, they are in the wailing child.
They are with us in the home. They are with us in the crowd.
The dead have a pact with the living.

Listen more often to things than to beings,
Listen more often to things than to beings.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath when the fire’s voice is heard.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath in the voice of the waters.

Listen more often to things than to beings,
Listen more often to things than to beings.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath when the fire’s voice is heard.
‘Tis the ancestors’ breath in the voice of the waters.

Program Notes
Spring Overture by Kenneth Amis

KENNETH AMIS (b. 1970) is a composer and performer of world renown. Amis began his musical journey in his home country of Bermuda where he began playing piano at a young age and tuba in his high school years. He wrote his first published work at the age of fourteen and enrolled  at Boston University to major in composition at age sixteen. After graduating from Boston University, he received a master’s degree in composition from the New England Conservatory.

As an active composer Amis has received commissions from several music organizations. He has also undertaken residencies with educational institutions of varying levels ranging from middle school to collegiate. He is a founding member and on the board of directors for the American Composers Forum New England Chapter. In 2007 he was composer-in-residence at the South Shore Conservatory in Massachusetts.

Amis’ music has been performed by groups such as the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Winds, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and National Arts Center Orchestra of Ottawa. In 2003 Amis became the youngest recipient of New England Conservatory of Music’s  “Outstanding Alumni Award.”

Spring Overture

My first contact with Frank Battisti was in 1991 when I was accepted to the New England Conservatory of Music as a composition major. At that time composition majors were not expected and, in my case, discouraged by the administration from auditioning for performance ensembles at the school. A friend recommended that I call the conductor of the wind ensemble, Frank Battisti, directly. I did, and after introducing myself on the phone and telling him how my efforts to schedule an audition time for the school’s ensembles were being met with resistance, he told me to simply walk in after the last person before lunch and start playing. This turned out to be the beginning of a tremendously supportive and motivating relationship. In the years that followed, Mr. Battisti had me judge concerto competitions, commissioned two new works from me (Music for Music, Four Songs from Songfest by Bernstein), and has served as valued counsel on every aspect of my musical career, from conducting and interpretation to artists’ relations and music industry politics. I can honestly say that Frank Battisti gave my career as a professional composer the momentum it needed to get off the ground. His passion, drive and unwavering professionalism still sets a shining example and the bar for me and all who know him.”
— Kenneth Amis  

For this commission, Frank Battisti was asked to write a short motif that would serve as inspiration. The motif composed by Mr. Battisti was a series of five notes, F-G-A-F- Gb. These notes served as the basis for the melodic material in Spring Overture. They will sometimes appear consecutively, other times they form the structure of the melody and have other notes in between them and other times they appear transposed or in an accompanying voice.

Breathe by Alex Shapiro

ALEX SHAPIRO (b. New York City, 1962) composes genre-blind acoustic and electroacoustic solo, chamber, choral, and symphonic pieces known for their lyricism and drama. Published by Activist Music LLC, her works are heard daily in concerts and broadcasts across the United States and internationally, and can be found on over thirty commercially released recordings from around the world. Shapiro is known for her seamless melding of live and recorded sounds that often include striking visual and physical elements, and for her innovative uses of technology throughout the composing, rehearsing, and performance of her music.

Shapiro is the symphonic and concert writer member on the board of directors of ASCAP, and a board member of the ASCAP Foundation. She also serves as a board member of The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and is a former board member of U.S. music organizations including the American Music Center, American Composers Forum of Los Angeles, MacDowell Colony and Society of Composers & Lyricists.

Educated at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music as a student of Ursula Mamlok and John Corigliano, Shapiro moved from Manhattan to Los Angeles in 1983, and in 2007 relocated to Washington state's remote San Juan Island, where she composes in a home perched on the water's edge, surrounded by wildlife. An award-winning nature photographer, Shapiro's images and music can be experienced on her blog www.notesfromthekelp.com and her website www.alexshapiro.org

Breathe in the composer’s words much of the year 2020 is epitomized by the concept of being deprived of breath. From the lung-destroying effects of COVID-19, to the murderous strangulations of police brutality. From the searing, choking walls of wildfire smoke, to the smothering evil of politicians attempting to asphyxiate democracy. It was tempting to title this piece “2020.” But the pandemic, the systemic racism, the climate changes and the abuses of power that churned malevolently as I composed this music, while heightened by a collective awareness, are not new. As quarantine has led millions of people to repeat the same day over and over, a simple theme of twelve notes repeats nine times, painfully slowly, always in the same order. A piano, rather than a wind instrument from which a deadly virus might be spread, offers up one pensive note at a time, paired with an atmospheric soundscape. As people attempt to stay connected to others through the internet, the combination of isolation and technology are a familiar theme. The static bleakness begins in grayness, becoming only more grim as time passes. Three quarters through, the orchestration begins to fill with sounds made from humans, not computers. The electronic track stops. The technology stops. All we hear are live musicians as the conductor, formerly tethered to unrelenting demands of a metronomic click track, becomes free to allow the ensemble breathe freely. Phrases climb upward from uncertainty, but of course there is no resolution. There can never be a resolution, because humans are not capable of such. But there can be hope, and breath.

Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Aldridge Grainger

PERCY ALDRIDGE GRAINGER (1882–1961) was a native of Brighton, Australia. He began studying piano at a young age with his mother, who was a professional teacher. At age thirteen Grainger left Australia to attend the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, Germany. Between 1901 and 1914 he was based in London where he established himself first as a society pianist and later as a concert performer, composer and collector of original folk melodies. As his reputation grew he met many of the significant figures in European music, such as Frederick Delius and Edvard Grieg. He became a champion of Nordic music and culture, and he expressed his enthusiasm through private letters. In 1914, he moved to America where he would live the rest of his life. At the outbreak of World War I Grainger enlisted as a U.S. Army bandsman, shortly after he was promoted to the Army Music School. In 1919, he became a U.S. citizen and made a worldwide concert tour. After his mother’s death in 1922 he became increasingly more involved in education, he became a professor and eventually served as the head of the music department at New York University. He also experimented with music machines that he hoped would supersede human interpretation. In his later years he wrote little new music but continued to give concerts that served to revise and rearrange his compositions. After World War II his health declined reducing his levels of activity, and he considered his career a failure. He gave his last concert in 1960, less than a year before his death.

Lincolnshire Posy as described by Grainger is “a bunch of musical wildflowers” based on folksongs collected in Lincolnshire England, mainly in the years 1905 to 1906, and the work is dedicated to the old folksingers who sang so sweetly to me. For these folksingers were the kings and queens of song! Indeed, each number is intended to be a kind of musical portrait of the singer who sang its undying melody — a musical portrait of the singer’s personality no less than of his habits of song — his regular or irregular wonts of rhythm, his preference for gaunt or ornately arabesque delivery, his contrasts of legato and staccato, his tendency towards breadth or delicacy of tone.”

Lisbon is a “Sailors Song” that tells the story of William, who is about to set sail for battle, and his love, Nancy who is carrying William’s baby. After pleading for his to stay and marry her, she sings how she would follow her lover into battle, “through France and Spain all for to be your bride.” The singer, Mr. Deane, was extremely old and too weak when Grainger first asked him to sing. Unable to write it all down the first time, Grainger returned the next year “to get Mr. Deane’s tune ‘alive or dead.’ I thought he might as well die singing it as die without singing it.”

Horkstow Grange is a narrative of local history and subtitled, The Miser and his Man- a local Tragedy. The story focuses on a falling out and ensuing fight between Steeleye Span, the miser and his man John Bowlin’. This was sung to Grainger by George Gouldthorpe, an impoverished English peasant who had spent his life working on the roads, and described by the composer ad having “a life of drudgery, ending, in old age, in want and hardship.” Grainger wrote, “In recalling Mr. Gouldthrope I think most of the mild yet lordly grandeur of his nature, and this is what I have tried to mirror in my setting of “Horkstow Grange.”

Rufford Park Poachers is a song about an attack on “forty bold poachers that night in Rufford Park.” Joseph Taylor, Grainger’s source, was described as “the perfect type of English yeoman: sturdy and robust, yet the soul of sweetness, gentleness, courteousness and geniality. Grainger had two different recordings of Taylor’s “cheery voice.” To reconcile the divergencies in Taylor’s two versions, Grainger combines them so that “practically all of Mr. Taylor’s variants appear in my setting.”

The Brisk Young Sailor was sung by the “proper Mrs. Thompson.” After seven long years, the brisk young sailor returns to wed his true love: “Now to the church they went together, and they got married there with joy.”

Lord Melbourne is a genuine English War Song. George Wray was eighty years old when he sang it to Grainger. Wray had a tough personality, and “he lived alone, surrounded by evil-smelling cats.” Grainger describes his singing as “more irregular in rhythm than any I ever heard.” The resultant setting uses “Free Time” with instructions, “The bandleader should give free rein to his rhythmic fancy, just as folk-singers do.”

The Lost Lady Found is a “dance-song-come down to us from the days when voices, rather than instruments, held village dances together.” This tune was collected not by Grainger, but by Miss Lucy E. Broadwood. Grainger’s score carries the instructions for the “dance-action” with the added direction, “and, if possible, demonstrated to the band by the bandmaster.” Stolen by Gypsies from her uncle, a fair maid was found fortuitously years later by “a young squire who loved her so.” They returned to town just as the unjustly-accused uncle was about to be hung for her disappearance. With the uncle saved and the “lost lady found,” their bells they did ring and their music did play, ev’ry house in that valley with mirth did resound.”

Cantus Singers

Natalie Aburto
Jenna Arnoldy
Francesca Bellora
Anna Balchunas
Morgan Berkheimer
Lydia Bui
Maddy Butler
Colleen Carpenter
Ruth Castellano
Corinne Clark
Mya Corby
Frank Desrosiers
Anna Elder
Britney Elvira Howell
Olivia Euvrard
Rachel Fast
Elena Fierer
Serenity Flores
Sarah Gorman
Taryn Greene
Cassidy Holmes
Alyson Harmes
Delanee Hill
Faith Hovermale
Danielle Hurvich
Laterria Jordan
Shannon Kane
Seanna Krikorian
Shelby Kuhn
Micah Link
Maria Mantalranos
Kathryn Martinez
Campbell Mason
Natalie McCrowell
Grace McWaters
Dasia-Marie Mitchell
Genevieve Moffett
Violet Neikirk
Emily Ralph
Kavita Ramcharran
Ashley Rinehart
Norah Rivers
Elizabeth Roche
Lourdes Rodriguez
Kathryn Rogerson
Olivia Rood
Tess Rose
Casey Ross
Sadie Roussell
Laila Schwartz
Bethany Shawley
Sofia Stankiewicz
Ashley Stuber
Evelyn Tapia Urrutia
Riley Taylor
Sarah Tremel
Grace Vestermark
Emily Wilson
Farren Winter

Shenandoah Voices

Jose Aguirre Ceron
Abraham Askew
Jacob Barger
Logan Casto
Clint Curfman
Peter George
Jonathan Jacobson
Jonathan Margrave
Evan Miller
Mary Price
Brennon Putt
Isaiah Scott
Emanuel Singletary
Ethan Smith
Todd Stemple

Conservatory Choir

Ricardo Avalos-Luna
Rachel Balbi
Anna Balchunas
Julian Baldwin
Nicholas Berent
Madeline Berkle
Katie Burnham
Savannah Chadwick
Kevin Alexander Clark
Megan Dehart
Adaugo Ejekwu
Grace Frame
Austin Harger
Bailey Kinsella
Andre Lewis
Jordan Martineau
Violet Neikirk
Geovanni Rodriguez
Matthias Jacob Rogers
Wayne Romero
Maddison Shawkey
Ethan Smith
Constantina Spyropoulos
Kristen Sullivan
Noah Wagar
Drew Young

Wind Ensemble

Rosalee Dicenza
Dane Frandsen
Yuan-I Jeffrey
Khepesh Imhotep
Anna Railsback


Zach Gnall
Alicia Gomez
Lillian Matthews
Mathuin Smith
Emilie Ticer


Matthew Bissen
Erin Eady
Zach Freshwater
Josh Lewis
Peter Mattson
Jalen Mims
Ada Rexrode
Yu Wang


Megan Frederick
Brenda Herrera
Emma Shockey
Kaelin Walton 


Tim Goodman
Luke Hackworth
Dominic Jackson
Sarah McMichen
Patrick Rippeon


Addison Ashley
Juliana Bish
Ethan Hahn
Scout Kirkham
Phoebe O’Kelly
Nick Peretti


Jacob Ford
Parlee Hayden
Courtney Labritz
Zoe Mark
Duncan Moore
Noah Van Deventer
Sam White
Alyson Zieg


Talbot Jennings
Catriona Johnston
Sarah Thompson


Amy Hernandez
Kendrey Trammell


Alex Daughtrey
Lance Davis


Sam Bradshaw
Austin Dettor
Alex Gamboa
Jack Kerness
Chance Morris
Jacob Routhier


David Lécuyer

Dean's Circle

When you join the Shenandoah Conservatory Dean’s Circle, your annual member support helps Shenandoah Conservatory address the costs of excellence in performing arts training, equipping state-of-the-art facilities, hiring world-class faculty, and fostering experimental and creative student projects.

Join Now >

Shenandoah Conservatory is grateful to the 2021/22 Dean's Circle members for supporting our creative community of artists, scholars and educators.

Meet the Dean's Circle >

To learn more about joining the Dean’s Circle and the other ways you can make a transformative gift to Shenandoah Conservatory visit www.su.edu/performs/support or contact:

Melanie L. Mathewes
Shenandoah Conservatory Director of Development
mmathewe@su.edu  |  (540) 665-4733

Shenandoah University is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.