Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My choral experience in Chautauqua

When I attended the first Morning Worship service at the Amphitheater, I heard the Chautauqua Choir perform and knew I wanted to participate at least once this summer.

The stars aligned last week and I knew it was my chance to sing with the 140-member group. The reason why I hadn't sung in the choir earlier in the season is, in part, because these people put in a large chunk of time into this group. Two out of three rehearsals are a requisite for singing on Sundays. Each rehearsal lasts from 6:00 to 7:45 p.m., every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I work on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings so it can be hard to get away for rehearsal and performance.

I decided, with the approval of my editor, to sing the choir. I attended all three rehearsals so that I would, quite literally, never miss a note. I was the youngest in the choir — in fact one of the only people under 30. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy myself.

It brought me back to singing with the choir at St. Stephen's in Toledo, Ohio. The warm hearts, kind faces and mellifluous music-making brought me back to my childhood. Looking up at my grandparents sing in church, there was purpose and a community of singers. A choir with a purpose. Praising with God-given talent.

And that's what I did on Sunday. Under the direction of the incomparable Jared Jacobsen, director of the choir and organist, we sang "The Testament of Freedom" with words by Thomas Jefferson and "Come Let Us Sing a Song of Joy" by Giovanni Gabrieli. This was a light menu for breakfast.

In the evening, we sang more during the Sacred Song Service. My favorite was "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," arranged by Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I also enjoyed singing a cappella "There Is a Balm in Gilead," linking arms and swaying with my neighbor.

It was a wonderful day of singing — and designing at the Daily. When I got home, suffice it to say I slept very well after four days of singing and interning.

Photos courtesy the Daily's Jordan Schnee

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oscar® Update: New Academy president named

Remember the name Tom Sherak. As of Tuesday night, August 18th, Sherak is the newly elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, voted by the organization's Board of Governors.

Sherak becomes the 33rd president of the Academy, known for its annual presentation of its golden Oscar statuettes. He is also beginning his seventh year as a governor representing the Executives Branch — members of the Academy represent 15 general areas. He served as treasurer of the Academy during the past year. He will served a one-year term, after which time the board will vote again.

According to the Academy:
"Sherak, a marketing, distribution and production executive with more than four decades in the motion picture industry, is currently a consultant for Marvel Studios.

Previously, Sherak was a partner at Revolution Studios where he oversaw the release of more than 40 films including “Black Hawk Down,” “Anger Management,” “Rent” and “Across the Universe.”

So what does the president of the Academy do? According to Variety: "The president chairs board meetings, has a hand in Oscar-related activities (including securing the Oscarcast producer), is a member of all Academy committees and sits in on as many meetings as time allows as the panels deal with various Acad functions (the library, scholarships, film preservation, et al.)"

Allow me a moment to be vain…

I guess now I will need to get Sherak's autograph. Last year, while a bleacher fan on the red carpet for the Academy Awards, I received the John Hancock of Sid Ganis, the now past Academy president, serving from 2005 until now.
Here is Ganis, in the middle, during final preparations at the 80th Annual Academy Awards.

Two weeks ago, here in Chautauqua, I got the autograph of Ganis' predecessor, Frank Pierson, who served 2001-2005.
Here is my friend and I pictured with Pierson after his lecture at Chautauqua Institution.

So I'd like to wish Sherak good luck. Pierson and Ganis, along with other former Academy presidents, have set the bar very high. I hope he will continue bringing the Academy into the 21st Century.

Other voting news:
Actors Branch governor Tom Hanks was elected first vice president; Producers Branch governor Kathleen Kennedy and Writers Branch governor Phil Robinson were elected to vice presidents posts; Producers Branch governor Hawk Koch was elected treasurer; and Short Films and Feature Animation Branch governor John Lasseter was elected secretary. Ganis, representing the Public Relations Branch, will serve as immediate past president.

The Academy normally announces the news the morning following the board meet, however, in the age of Twitter, execs decided it made more sense to send out the news right away, according to Variety.

Headshot of Sherak by Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.