Folk Music Returns To Staples

I seldom publicize Staples High School concerts. The quality of the choral groups, orchestras and bands is superb. But parents know all about the events, and they make up much of the appreciative audiences.

This Wednesday though (October 21, 7:30 p.m., Staples auditorium, free admission), there’s a choral concert that should not be missed.

Director Luke Rosenberg’s various choirs will perform “The Art of Folk Music.” Featuring American, Irish and Scottish songs, it promises to be a wonderful night.

Rosenberg explains, “Traditionally, folk music has been sung as a means of celebration, praise, mourning, or to express love or affection.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg in action. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg in action. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

“To me it made perfect sense to put together a choral concert that both celebrates our own music of yesterday and that of our friends across the Atlantic, as well as give our students a chance to gain a new understanding of past culture, while keeping these treasured tunes alive within the voices and hearts of our youth.”

Earlier this fall, when the singers first received their music, the response was mixed. Some loved the selections and theme; others were skeptical.

It did not take long, Rosenberg said, for all to enjoy learning about “these musical treasures from the past. They’ve embraced the idea of using different styles of vocal production, to create the sound appropriate for each song.”

Highlights of the concert include arrangements of well-known tunes like “Shenandoah” and “Danny Boy,” along with lesser-known titles like “The Crawdad Song” and “Fionnghuala.”

If you’ve ever seen a Luke Rosenberg concert, you’ll know to expect the unexpected — and be wowed.

If you’ve never been to one: You have no idea what you’re missing.

Folk music poster

4 responses to “Folk Music Returns To Staples

  1. William Banks

    In doing research for our upcoming Lead Belly 85th year fund raising celebration for The Wilton Historical Society, I came acroos this interesting research conducted by Alan Lomax.

    Cantometrics (“song measurements”) is a method developed by Alan Lomax and a team of researchers for relating elements of the world’s traditional vocal music (or folk songs) to features of social organization as defined via George Murdock’s Human Relations Area Files, resulting in a taxonomy of expressive human communications style. Lomax defined Cantometrics as the study of singing as normative expressive behavior and maintained that Cantometrics reveals folk performance style to be a “systems-maintaining framework” which models key patterns of co-action in everyday life. His work on Cantometrics gave rise to further comparative studies of aspects of human communication in relation to culture, including: Choreometrics, Parlametrics, Phonotactics (an analysis of vowel frequency in speech), and Minutage (a study of breath management).

    Instead of the traditional Western musicological descriptive criteria of pitch, rhythm, and harmony, Cantometrics employs 37 style factors developed by Lomax and his team in consultation with specialists in linguistics, otolaryngology and voice therapy. The vocal style factors were designed to be easily rated by observers on a five-point scale according to their presence or absence. They include, for example: group cohesion in singing; orchestral organization; tense or relaxed vocal quality; breathiness; short or long phrases; rasp (vocal grating, such as associated, for example with the singing of Louis Armstrong); presence and percentage of vocables versus meaningful words); and melisma (ornamentation), to name a few.

    In the early stages of his work on the Cantometrics coding system, Lomax wrote of the relationship of musical style to culture:

    “Its fundamental diagnostic traits appear to be vocal quality (color, timbre, normal pitch, attack, type of melodic ornamentation, etc.) and the degree in which song is normally monodic or polyphonic. The determinative socio-psychological factors seem to be . . . the type of social organization, the pattern of erotic life, and the treatment of children…. I myself believe that the voice quality is the root [diagnostic] element. From this socio-psychological complex there seem to arise a complex of habitual musical practices which we call musical style”[1]

  2. William Banks

    Cantometrics (“song measurements”) is a method developed by Alan Lomax and a team of researchers for relating elements of the world’s traditional vocal music (or folk songs) to features of social organization as defined via George Murdock’s Human Relations Area Files, resulting in a taxonomy of expressive human communications style. Lomax defined Cantometrics as the study of singing as normative expressive behavior and maintained that Cantometrics reveals folk performance style to be a “systems-maintaining framework” which models key patterns of co-action in everyday life. His work on Cantometrics gave rise to further comparative studies of aspects of human communication in relation to culture, including: Choreometrics, Parlametrics, Phonotactics (an analysis of vowel frequency in speech), and Minutage (a study of breath management).

    Instead of the traditional Western musicological descriptive criteria of pitch, rhythm, and harmony, Cantometrics employs 37 style factors developed by Lomax and his team in consultation with specialists in linguistics, otolaryngology and voice therapy. The vocal style factors were designed to be easily rated by observers on a five-point scale according to their presence or absence. They include, for example: group cohesion in singing; orchestral organization; tense or relaxed vocal quality; breathiness; short or long phrases; rasp (vocal grating, such as associated, for example with the singing of Louis Armstrong); presence and percentage of vocables versus meaningful words); and melisma (ornamentation), to name a few.

    In the early stages of his work on the Cantometrics coding system, Lomax wrote of the relationship of musical style to culture:

    “Its fundamental diagnostic traits appear to be vocal quality (color, timbre, normal pitch, attack, type of melodic ornamentation, etc.) and the degree in which song is normally monodic or polyphonic. The determinative socio-psychological factors seem to be . . . the type of social organization, the pattern of erotic life, and the treatment of children…. I myself believe that the voice quality is the root [diagnostic] element. From this socio-psychological complex there seem to arise a complex of habitual musical practices which we call musical style”[1]

  3. Dan
    I am glad that you bent the rules on this. More people should have spread the word.
    The profit last night equaled or surpassed many a NYC productions. aside from some minor lighting issues the concert was flawless. The selection of the songs and the talent of the Staples students far exceeded any of my expectations. Mr. Rose burg, along with Dr. Kwan, Ms. Batman, Ms Garner and Ms. Ogilvy are to be commended – BRAVA!!!
    Manny Coplit

  4. §Dear Dan = Sorry I was unable to attend the recent STAPLES Auditorium spectacular. Word is that Maestro Rosenberg’s THE ART OF FOLK MUSIC production was one to make Woody & Pete & Joni & Cass–not to mention Papa & Sonny (as in LOMAX)–Proud.

    Accordingly: any chance of a repeat performance? Ot–even better–a straw-hat version @ Westport County Playhouse? Or @ one of Fairfield Theater Company’s local venues? Please advise. Meanwhile, keep spreading the Good News from & re: the Incomparable “06880”,

    Thanks & Best. s/Noel [Noel E. PARMENTEL Jr // NoelJr@OptOnline.Net]