Arts and Entertainment

Rehearsals starting soon for island Conservatory Choir at WICA

Rob Prosch plays Judge Turpin in the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts recent production of “Sweeney Todd.” Prosch was named director of the new Conservatory Choir at WICA. - Mike Shafer photo
Rob Prosch plays Judge Turpin in the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts recent production of “Sweeney Todd.” Prosch was named director of the new Conservatory Choir at WICA.
— image credit: Mike Shafer photo

Whidbey Islanders get to sing their hearts out starting this month.

Whidbey Island Center for the Arts has announced that registration is open for a brand-new WICA Conservatory Choir.

The choir will be led by Robert Prosch and will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12 at the performing arts center in Langley. Rehearsals will move to South Whidbey High School the following Monday and continue there through March 9. The choir is open to all ages regardless of experience or training.

The WICA Conservatory Choir is dedicated to creating an all-encompassing choral experience for both the performers and choir audiences.

Although the choir will be open to all members of the community, one of its goals is to maintain a high level of professionalism in musicianship which, in turn, will empower choir members to fulfill their musical and performance potential.

The mission is simple: Learn solid music technique and have fun singing.

Prosch, who is also principal at South Whidbey High School, has been training vocally since 1984. He was recently seen in WICA’s production of “Sweeney Todd” in which he performed the vocally demanding role of Judge Turpin.

“Rob is an amazing, inspiring teacher,” Sweeney Todd director Deana Duncan said. “Our ‘Sweeney Todd’ cast used to come to rehearsal and performance early in order to spend 20 minutes being led by him.”

Duncan said that even though she didn’t need to warm up her voice before the production, she used to stand in the back and warm up, too, in order to do the exercises and be part of it.

But the idea for the choir did not come solely from the enthusiasm of the “Sweeney Todd” cast.

Prosch approached South Whidbey School District Superintendent Fred McCarthy about emulating other school district administrators by engaging in a service to the community.

“Dr. McCarthy and I felt it would be beneficial for me to work with an arts organization because of my background,” Prosch said.

After joining the WICA board, Prosch was approached by producing director Duncan and executive director Stacie Burgua about becoming the founding artistic director of the first-ever WICA Conservatory Choir.

“My background in vocal training and education made it seem like the right thing to do,” Prosch said.

With WICA’s emphasis on doing a large musical every year, the choir idea seemed right, as its mission would be to teach musical technique to anyone regardless of age, training or experience.

“If you want to sing; have ever wanted to sing, this is for you,” Duncan said.

The WICA Conservatory Choir will meet each week for practice and give a performance at the end of each session, which include winter to spring and fall to winter.

With an intent to teach music that is both inspiring and challenging, Prosch has chosen some music based on the poems of Robert Frost to start the winter-spring session.

Composer Randall Thompson created “Frostiana: Seven Country Songs,” for a bicentennial celebration in the poet’s hometown of Amherst, Mass.

In honor of that piece, the first session will be entitled “In A Yellow Wood,” a title derived from the first line of Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken.”

The session will also feature the music of Jeffery Ames, William C. Powell, Cole Porter, Rene Clausen, Ruth Elaine Schram, Mack Wilberg, John Rutter, David Dickau and Greg Gilpin.

Additionally, the choir will meet in the summer to practice skills with emphasis on singing preparation, vocal techniques and auditioning.

“It’s an educational experience for those individuals who would like to just sing and for those, too, who want to be involved in those large annual musicals at WICA,” Prosch said.

The choir is designed to grow the individual talents of community members while, at the same time, bringing in other people who may not have ventured into the world of singing before, in order to broaden what the performing arts can provide within the community.

“I’m excited about it,” Prosch said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to work with singers and get to know people by sharing my passion with the community.”

Pre-registration forms are available at the WICA box office. For more info call WICA at 221-8269.

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