National honors for local ensemble

By From page A11 | November 28, 2012

Choral conductor Tracia Barbieri submitted a DVD of her Davis-based Vocal Art Ensemble to The American Prize, a nationally based organization “providing evaluation, recognition and reward to America’s finest performing artists, ensembles and composers based on recorded performances.”

She was merely hoping for some constructive criticism, but what she got was so much more. Barbieri learned that the ensemble is a semifinalist in the competition, and then learned that it received the Special Citation for Unique Collaborative Programming and Performance.

“I was hoping to get a little professional adjudication and critical feedback about the unique work we’re doing,” said Barbieri, who started the ensemble in February 2008 with just 15 singers.

Not resting on its laurels, the Vocal Art Ensemble is in rehearsals for its Dec. 7-9 production of “Frankincense and Myrrh: A Caravan of Exotic Choral Treasures,” a diverse program including ethnic dance coordinated by Denise Matthieu.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7,  in Sacramento, and Saturday, Dec. 8, at Woodland Presbyterian Church, 1324 Columbia Drive in Woodland. Sunday’s performance is at 4 p.m. at the United Methodist Church of Davis, 1620 Anderson Road.

VAE’s entry was a video of its fall 2011 concert, “Solstice: Dance of Light,” which featured custom-choreographed dance pieces by local dance company Ecokinesis. The DVD was compiled by Barbieri after the concerts were completed, using footage from several cameras over the three-performance run.

“The DVD Tracia created is amazing,” said Jeri Ohmart, VAE soprano, in response to the award, “so in a way it doesn’t surprise me — yet still it is so exciting and wonderful to see our work recognized in that way!”

This is not the first time a regional choral group has been honored by The American Prize. The Sacramento Choral Society won third place in the same division in 2010.

“I love to work with other artistic enterprises — we can learn from them, and they can learn from us,” Barbieri said. “I’m thrilled that we’re being appreciated for doing exactly what we’re aiming to do: create a multi-faceted musical experience on top of the polished execution audiences expect from us.”

Barbieri is putting the finishing touches on the ensemble’s newest DVD, “Inkspell: Choral Music Inspired by Masters of Poetry,” which featured theatrical poetry interludes directed by Russell St. Clair.

For more information, visit www.vae.trug.com.

Enterprise staff

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