Dear Ensemble Companio Community,
I hope you’re all healthy and enjoying the beginning of Spring! Tomorrow is our first full concert for the 2022-2023 season, entitled I Flow/I AM. It also marks the beginning of the end of my time as the President of Ensemble Companio’s Board. I want to share some thoughts with you about these last three years.
Shortly after I became President-Elect of the Board in March 2020, news broke that a novel coronavirus named COVID-19 had spread beyond its initial outbreak. Cases had been detected in the United States. Ensemble Companio canceled its March 2020 concert given concerns for the safety of our members and audiences. Shortly thereafter, we, like just about everyone else here in the United States, began a two-week quarantine to “flatten the curve.” That went the way we all remember. We canceled our entire 2019-2020 concert season. Weeks of quarantine turned into months. All of us did our best to get through. None of us, thankfully, injected any bleach.
EC’s 2020-2021 concert season (which was, incidentally, our Tenth Anniversary season) was fully remote. We continued to gather once a month, via Zoom, to be and sing together. It was a balm for all of us in an otherwise incredibly lonely, frightening, and isolating time. Under the steady guidance of our excellent Artistic Director, Erik Peregrine, we broke new ground as an organization with recording, remote collaboration, and streamed performances. And unlike far too many performing arts organizations, we were, through the dedication of our members and volunteer Board, the quality of Erik’s leadership, and the generosity of you, our community, able to come through that more than a year without in-person performances intact.
We returned to in-person rehearsals for our triumphant Eleventh Anniversary season in the Fall of 2021. Being back together was–not to overstate things–glorious. As many of you know, I’ve been a choral singer now for over thirty years. Before March 2020, I hadn’t gone for more than two months without experiencing the elation that comes with feeling my voice blending with the voices of other singers since I was nine years old. Rehearsing with my friends, feeling all the joys of singing with EC again after 17 hard months, brought me so much happiness. I know our members had similar experiences of being restored by our community and the opportunity it provides for artistry. The 2021-2022 season added new joys, too. Chief among those was the debut of our first commissioned piece, The Garden, by Carlos Cordero, and our renewed commitment, under Erik’s direction, to performing works by composers from communities that have been wrongfully excluded from the traditional Western choral canon.
During this 2022-2023 season, we have deepened our commitment to our mission of building bridges through authentic, inspiring performances of the finest choral music. We have not only continued our efforts to highlight the works of excluded composers, but focused on outreach to young singers through a workshop with the William Floyd High School Chorus (directed by our very own Donia Rivera) and, tomorrow, a workshop and joint performance with the Rensselaer Concert Choir. We are thrilled to be able to not only continue, but strengthen our charitable mission. We believe it is ever more important at a time when marginalized and oppressed peoples in the United States are being targeted specifically through legislated bans on public artistry. Our pursuit of that mission would not be possible without the incredible dedication of our singers, the quality and constancy of Erik’s artistic direction, and your ongoing support.
I hope to see you at our performances this year:
Finally, regardless of whether you are able to see us perform, I hope that you will continue your financial support of Ensemble Companio, and particularly our Joseph Gregorio Artistic Director Fund. I firmly believe that Ensemble Companio would not have survived the last three years without Erik’s guidance, commitment to musical excellence, and skill at eliciting our best as performers. The Artistic Director Fund has been critical in keeping them at our helm.
Thank you for the support that has sustained and nurtured Ensemble Companio over these last 13 years. It is a constant source of comfort and pride for me to be part of our joyful community.
Yours in song,