Vocal Arts Ensemble
Ann Arbor
Concert Archive
Concert Archives from previous years


October 29, 2017
Singing Northerly
Our inaugural program takes us up and around the Baltics, featuring music of Grieg, Rautavaara, Pärt, Neilsen, and Sibelius, as well as delightful settings of Danish folksongs.Music in Estonian, Latin, Danish, Italian and English.

Dec 16, 2017

Three settings of the Magnificat will be the cornerstone of our annual Christmas concert, representing three different musical eras, styles and textures. Gerald Finzi's Magnificat, of 1952, Palestrina's spacious magnificat in 8 parts, and the buoyantly dramatic Magnificat by Vivaldi, with strings. The concert will also include carols, both familiar and unfamiliar.

March 4, 2018
What's in a Name?
Our venue has changed, but this celebratory event that has become an Ann Arbor staple continues to thrive. This year's theme revolves around songs named for people, from the courtly Elizabeth to the ordinary Joe. As usual, pop, hollywood and Broadway make up the fare, featuring soloists, as well as small and large ensembles.

May 13, 2018
VAE and Viola
John Madison, principal violist of Michigan Opera Theater, will join us as a featured artist in this program for various combinations of choir, viola, piano and organ.. Music will include: Brahms, Puccini's short Requiem, written for Verdi's funeral; Daniel Pinkham's De Profundis and Jean Berger's Canticle of the Sun, as well as a world premiere by Ching-chu Hu, professor of composition at Denison University.


October 23, 2016
We Rage, We Rejoice
Our opening concert of the season plumbs Madness and the music it inspires. Great composers have long been drawn to poetry of affliction and have expressed it in splendid ways. The concert will include great settings of Tasso as set by Gesualdo; as well as the maniacally brilliant Christopher Smart, represented by Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb. Haydn's Insanae et vanae curae, a piece evoking fear, dread and then beautiful lyricism, embodies the music in this program as we navigate through the tortuous melodies, wild harmonies and utter ebullience of the creative, tormented mind.

December 17, 2016

Our winter concert will be Spanish flavored, as we perform Conrad Sousa's celebrated Spanish Carols and Lullabies, scored for guitar, marimba, harp and choir, seasonal Sephardic music sung in Ladino, and Spanish inspired music from the Renaissance to the 21st century. The program will also include folk music of the Sephardic diaspora as well as traditional carols, all woven together in a delightful array of texture. Our annual Christmas concert is always a joyous, rich, and festive event.

March 4, 2017
Into The Closet!

You are never fully dressed without our annual dinner Pops concert and fundraiser at Kensington Court, which will be enjoying its eighth season. This year we will don the theme of Clothes, and continue our tradition of performing the sassy, catchy and beguiling music of classic and contemporary song writers in a wide of variety of groupings and styles.

May 6, 2017
Voice of a War: The American Echo

Following in the footsteps of our powerful and acclaimed "Voice of a War" concert in 2014, which commemorated the centennial of the beginning of the Great War, we will honor the centennial of the American entrance into World War One in the spring of 1917 with a world premiere musical drama. Some of the area's finest actors, musicians and soloists will join VAE as we tell a new story of the War and its effect on American life.


October 25, 2015
The Splendor of Venice
e city of Venice has long been regarded as the hub and font of musical inspiration. In its opening concert of the season, VAE presents great works from the early Venetian masters, including Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir, a dramatic motet full of shifting textures and exquisite beauty, qualities that define the baroque Venetian style. Music of Heinrich Schütz, Gabrieli and Vivaldi will also be featured, as well as Venetian street songs, selections from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers and the finale to Johann Strauss’ A Night in Venice.

December 19, 2015
Canons and Carols

This December VAE springs back and forth across the page, around the stage and over the seas. We will perform Theo Morrison’s Missa Brevis, a shimmering gem of canonical writing, as well as music in imitative style from Mouton (his Naciens Mater in eight parts) to Bach and beyond. As for carols, we will travel to the Baltics, down to China and back to the West for what will be a bountiful celebration of the season.

March 5, 2016
Rumor Has It

Gossip, chatter, conspiracy and dirt-dishing are among the song subjects in this season’s annual Pops Gala, a cabaret that has become one of Ann Arbor's top concert/dinner events. Featuring songs from Irving Berlin to Stephen Sondheim, from Marvin Gaye to Adele, sung in a variety of vocal textures, the evening, complete with a three-course meal and silent auction, promises a full compliment of great music, food and style.

May 6 & 8, 2016
The Story of Orpheus 

Like last season’s acclaimed “The Voice of a War”, “The Story of Orpheus” will weave an original, seamless musical drama featuring some of the area’s finest artists. In this program, we will bring Orpheus to life in all his fascinating colors: musician supreme, half-god, arrogant Nature-Trumper, and lover who is torn apart, literally and figuratively, by Love. Using the harrowing and beautiful texts of Rilke, Virgil and Ovid as our guide, we will follow Orpheus from the fields of Thrace to his wedding ceremony with Eurydice, down the River Styx to the Underworld and back up again, where he meets his fate.

November 8, 2014
The Voice of a War

The great poetry of World War I plays center stage, as VAE collaborates with the University of Michigan's esteemed Malcolm Tulip and U of M's percussion professor Michael Gould, as well as actors Eva Rosenwald and Glenn Bugala to present its own musical and dramatic commemoration of the Great War's centennial. The concert will feature settings of Thomas Hardy, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and others by both contemporaneous and modern composers, including trench songs. The transcendent Songs of Farewell by Herbert Parry will culminate what will be a moving, unique event.
December 13, 2014

VAE celebrates the season by bringing back its popular joint concert with John Rutherford and his brass quintet with a shimmering array of music, from Baroque to contemporary, all in the warm setting and acoustic of the St. Andrews sanctuary.
 February 14, 2015
Pops Dinner Gala: Getting Lucky

The choir will conjure up a feast of songs about Chance, Fortune (and Mis), and the proverbial luck of the draw in its annual gala at Kensington Court. One of Ann Arbor's great events, including a full meal, silent auction, and, of course, a lively panoply of styles.
 May 16, 2015
So pure, So fair: Music for Choir, Harp, and Strings

Our final concert features American composers and the lush textures of harp and strings: Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas' moving and bittersweet homage to transience, beautifully and skillfully set by John Corigliano; Walden Pond, by Dominick Argento, set to excerpts of Thoreau's prose as well as the beautifully gripping Agnus Dei of Samuel Barber.
October 27, 2013
Song of the Trumpet 

Our opening concert fuses the brilliant sonorities of trumpet, piano and chorus, featuring one of the region’s finest trumpeters, Clark Irwin, and our very own Ted Wyman on piano. The program will include music of Hindemith, Halsey Stevens, and several baroque composers, as well as a new piece by our music director, Ben Cohen: The Coming and Passing of Arthur.
December 15, 2013
Seasonal Jubilation: Charpentier Messe de Minuit

Charpentier mixed popular carols into his midnight mass to produce one of the glorious Christmas works of the baroque era. In addition to the Charpentier, VAE and a consort of strings will include music of Poulenc, Villette, Corelli (and carols too). This year we are pleased also to present six local artisans who will be displaying their wares immediately before the concert and at the reception following. Items such as drawings, cards, jewelry, and a variety of ceramics and pottery will be available for purchase.
March 1, 2014
On the Move

Moving On: Planes, Trains and Balloons, Jump aboard for a wild ride on our annual Pops dinner gala: this year's cabaret concert will celebrate songs about, in and aboard manners of conveyance. As usual, we promise a full evening of Broadway and Hollywood songs brought to you by soloists, small groups and the full choir.
May 18, 2014
The Passing of the Year

Our final program explores the passing of the seasons and passing of time: Jonathan Dove's sterling The Passing of the Year, and music reflecting both the ephemeral and eternal, including music of Lassus, Britten and Brahms.
November 3rd, 2012
Be Not Afraid 

Featuring the deeply beautiful Requiem by Herbert Howells - one of the treasures of a cappella choral literature in the twentieth century - and Bach’s motet Fürchte dich nicht - a double chorus work by turns troubling and comforting - VAE’s opening concert explores the themes of life and death, fear and fortification, loss and comfort.  The program will also include music of Schütz, Byrd, Pearsall and Stevie Wonder.
December 8th, 2012
Seasonal Miracles 

VAE celebrates the music of the season with two master works for Christmas: Victoria’s Quem Vidistis Pastores and the Quatre motets of Poulenc, music for Hanukkah - Medieval, Sephardic, and contemporary settings of ancient texts - and a wide array of choral delights and surprises, all in the intimate setting of the Genesis sanctuary.
February 16th, 2013
Pops Dinner Gala: Food, Glorious Food 

Our annual Pops fund raiser dinner serves up food and drink with a full concert; this time it tears into the theme of, fittingly, Food and Drink. As usual, our musical feast mixes Broadway and Hollywood classics with off-the-beaten-path fare, featuring versatile singers who are always happy to sing for your supper. Merriment and laughter abound. The evening includes a silent auction.
May 11th, 2013
Hey And A Ho

Our final concert of the season toasts choral literature inspired by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Dunne, Anonymous (who is responsible for more than a few ribald catches) and other writers of the Elizabethan era.  Music of Irving Fine (The Hour-Glass Suite), Vaughan Williams, Fanny Mendelssohn, Matthew Harris and much more reflects VAE's customary bent toward a wide spectrum of musical styles.
November 5, 2011
Awake! Arise!

Just as the late fall doldrums lull us to a drowsy torpor, the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Ann Arbor bids you to "Awake! Arise!" with a choral music program of both energy and beauty. J.S. Bach's immortal Cantata No. 140, "Wachet auf" (Sleepers Wake) fills our hall with its power and glory, while Thomas Morley's madrigal "Arise, Awake, Awake!" is lilting and inviting. Ronald Perera's "Why I Wake Early" embodies poet Mary Oliver's verse in vivid melodies and musical place settings in such sections as "Morning at Great Pond", "I Looked Up" and "White Night". Wilensky's "Uri Tsiyon" bids us wake with a rhythmic clarion call.
January 14th, 2012
Angst and Consolation

In "Angst and Consolation", the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Ann Arbor explores those eternal opposites and complements - pain and joy - and how several composers in different eras have expressed these recurring themes of the human condition. The Renaissance Magnificat of Hieronymous Praetorius is contrasted with a very different Magnificatby modern Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Ola Gjeilo, a contemporary rising star among choral composers, combines celebratory Latin text with themes from Nordic folk songs in his "Prelude". Works by Rautavaara and Tomas Luis de Victoria round out this a cappellaprogram showcasing a wide range of the choral art.
Pårt:  Magnificat
Gjeillo:  Prelude
Praetorius:  Magnificat
Also music by Rautavaara and Victoria.
February 25th, 2012
Pops Dinner Gala: Heroes and Villains

VAE's annual gala dinner concert and fundraiser looks at those extremes of human character -- heroism and villainy --  through music of the musical stage, pop, TV and movies, and a bit of classical. Between parts of a 3-course dinner, guests will be entertained by soloists, small groups and the entire ensemble. Complimentary glass of wine, cash bar, silent auction, coffee bar.
May 19th, 2012
I Hate, I Love

The Vocal Arts Ensemble explores the emotional opposites of hate and love, so closely bound together, as viewed by composers through the ages. Monteverdi's exquisite Italian madrigals embody the hopes, dreams and heartbreaks of love, interspersed with drama and struggle. The famous "Liebeslieder Waltzes" of Brahms are love songs in a variety of voices and settings. And finally modern composer Dominick Argento sets the ancient Latin poetry of Catullus in a song cycle for choir and percussion that ranges from adulation to bitter rejection.
Argento:  I Hate and I Love
Monteverdi:  Madrigals of Love and War, Book VIII
Brahms:  Liebeslieder Waltzes
November 6, 2010

From the intricately sassy harmonies of Poulenc to the astonishing quadruple canon at the fifth in Mouton's Nesciens Mater to the lyric melodies of the composer of Moulin Rouge, this concert will bring you the music of French composers from late Renaissance motets to French film music, all in the reverberant acoustic of St Thomas. Charpentier's Requiem is a gem, seldom performed.
Mouton: Nasciens Mater
Poulenc: Salve Regina
Charpentier: Requiem
Debussy: Trois Chansons
Poulenc: Selectins from Chansons Francaises
Music from Les Choristes.
December 18th, 2010

For the second consecutive year, VAE welcomes the Motor City Brass Quintet for another collaborative venture that will feature great choral and brass motets, carols and Sephardic music from across the centuries.
February 19th, 2011

Following on the heels of Night and Day, last year's highly successful dinner concert, VAE returns with All of Me, a cabaret of Broadway and Hollywood songs about body parts.
May 7th, 2011

Our final concert of the season will feature American choral gems; a staging of Kurt Weill's one-act folk opera Down In The Valley with members of the local dance troupe, People Dancing; an appearance by the Greenhills School High School choir; and a commission for VAE by composer Dwayne Milburn (current director of the U.S. Army Chorus) dedicated to former VAE singer Kamilah Neighbors, who died in 2010 at the age of 33. A multi-layered, rich and beautiful event.
Milburn: Three Sacred Moments (World Premiere)
Weill: Down In The Valley: a folk opera in one act.
Paulus: The Old Church
Rardin: My Spirit is Uncaged
Copland: The Promise of Living
About the Choir
For over two decades, the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Ann Arbor has maintained a tradition of professional excellence in the performance of fine choral music.