Tag Archives: Orphenians

Musica Caliente!

On Friday, Staples High School’s Orphenians, A Cappella Choir, Chorus and Chorale presented more than a dozen songs from places near the equator: Brazil, Bali, India, Puerto Rico, Haiti, East Africa.

“¡Musica Caliente!” was the latest in an extraordinary series of gifts from the music department to the town.

If you missed it, no hay problema. Staples’ indefatigable Media Lab co-director Jim Honeycutt taped and edited the entire show. Now “06880” readers can enjoy it all.

NOTE: The first number is not a traditional “song.” But it does show the amazing sounds choral director Luke Rosenberg elicits from his teenage singers.

If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.

A Gift For Luke Rosenberg

Last night’s “¡Musica Caliente!” concert was stunning.

Staples High School’s Orphenians, A Cappella Choir, Chorus and Chorale presented more than a dozen songs from places near the equator — Brazil, Bali, India, Puerto Rico, Haiti, East Africa — that were extraordinarily difficult to sing, beautiful in vastly different ways, and inspiringly presented.

It was a superb evening. But the highlight came after choral director Luke Rosenberg spoke movingly of his many seniors — the 1st class he’s seen all the way through Staples, since arriving 4 years ago.

Each senior described where he or she is going to college. Some are studying voice or musical theater; others will become engineers, journalists or psychologists. One hopes to enter the Marines.

Then the seniors announced a gift. They stood on the risers and sang “Dominus Vobiscum” by Sydney Guillaume, the Haitian composer whose “Tap Tap” they had already performed to thunderous applause.

Luke Rosenberg (left) listens to his graduating seniors sing.

Luke Rosenberg (left) listens to his graduating seniors sing.

The soon-to-be-graduates had chosen the piece, rehearsed it, and nailed it — all on their own.

That’s the greatest gift any educator ever gets.

Warmth Of The Season

Santa brought his sleigh carriage to Main Street today.

He was headed here with reindeer, but the Texas-like temperatures forced the  switch to horses.

Horse carriage - Main Street Christmas 2015

Out in force too were Orphenians, Staples’ elite singing group. They donned their gay apparel — sweaters, scarves and caps — just for show. It was warm.

But you can’t keep a good rendition of “Jingle Bells” down.

After which, a few of director Luke Rosenberg’s carolers hopped in Santa’s carriage for a musical ride.

It’s all a warm-up for next weekend’s Candlelight Concert.

And we do mean warm-up.

Orphenians Rock Yankee Stadium

It’s been quite a year for the Staples Orphenians.

In March they traveled to — and wowed — San Francisco, as part of the prestigious Chanticleer festival.

Tonight they did the same at Yankee Stadium.

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg directs the Orphenians at Yankee Stadium. (Photo/New York Yankees)

They had to wait out an hour-and-20-minute rain delay — hey, that’s show biz — but when they finally stood at home plate, they delivered a strong, sophisticated and inspiring rendition of our national anthem.

The largest crowd ever to watch the Orphenians perform gave them a loud, well-deserved hand.

Best of all, they made it onto the Jumbotron.

For the Yankees’ official high-def video, click here.

For Jim Honeycutt’s video — including scenes of the Orphenians greeting Jimmy Fallon and Lorne Michaels before they leave the field — click here:

To see Kim Mathias’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

To see Chip Stephens’ video, click below (or here, if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube):

Orphenians Prepare For San Francisco Stage

Yesterday morning, Luke Rosenberg led the Orphenians on stage at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.

They were there as part of the National Youth Choral Festival — and an evening performance, with 300 singers.

Here’s how they sounded, solo:

(Hat tip: Mark Mathias)

Broadway Stars Benefit Orphenians

Adam Kaplan has not forgotten his roots.

Adam Kaplan

Adam Kaplan

The 2008 Staples High School graduate scored some prime roles — Martin Delancey and a newsboy, plus understudy for lead Jack Kelly — in the popular Broadway show “Newsies.” But he has returned to Westport often, enjoying Staples Players productions and  visiting Greens Farms Elementary School music classes.

Now Kaplan is donating his talents to a fundraiser for the Orphenians, the elite high school singing group that helped boost his career. The a cappella musicians have been invited to San Francisco — the only East Coast group to participate in the famed Chanticleer National Youth Choral Festival, this March.

Kaplan has put together an all-star Broadway cast, for a benefit performance. Set to appear with him in the Staples auditorium on Monday, January 26: “Newsies” Tommy Bracco and Molly Jobe; Matt Shingledecker (“Wicked,” “West Side Story,” “Spring Awakening”); Steffanie Leigh (the final Mary of “Mary Poppins”); Robin de Jesús (current star of “Wicked”; 2-time Tony nominee for “In the Heights” and “La Cage aux Folles”); Barrett Wilbert Weed (“Heathers the Musical,” “Lysistrat Jones”) and Kara Lindsay (“Wicked,” “Newsies”).

Proceeds will help all Orphenians be able to make the trip. Click here to order tickets ($40 for adults, $20 for students and seniors). If you can’t attend but would like to contribute, click here.

The 2014-15 Orphenians

The 2014-15 Orphenians

The Orphenians’ Gift Box

The Orphenians are entering their busy season. Staples’ elite a cappella group is in  high demand during the holidays.

But they’re also looking ahead to spring. In March, they’ve been invited to San Francisco. They’re one of 10 schools — and the only one from the East Coast — to participate in Chanticleer’s National Youth Choral Festival.

It’s an expensive undertaking. To raise funds, they’re bringing a giant music box to their performances. Donations are gratefully accepted.

The box was there last night, for Chanticleer’s performance at Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

The Orphenians, and their gift music box.

The Orphenians, and their gift music box.

It will be out this weekend too, at the Candlelight Concert. If you’d like to help, drop cash or checks (made out to “Staples Music,” with “Orphenians” in the memo line) into the box.

Donations can also be sent to Luke Rosenberg, c/o Staples High School, 70 North Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.

Orphenians Invited To Elite San Francisco Stage

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco.

Staples’ Orphenians will bring their voices there.

The elite ensemble is 1 of only 10 high school choirs invited to participate in the Chanticleer National Youth Choral Festival in March. The 4-day immersion program features coaching by members of Chanticleer, the internationally known choral performers and educators.

The climactic event, on March 30, is a gala concert at Davies Symphony Hall.  Orphenians, the other 9 high school choirs, Chanticleer and guest artists will share the fabled stage.

The 2014-15 Orphenians.

The 2014-15 Orphenians.

This is not Orphenians’ 1st big trip. In the 1960s and ’70s, under George Weigle, the group traveled to the Virgin Islands, Austria and Poland. In the ’90s, Alice Lipson took them to Italy and the Czech Republic.

Now, with director Luke Rosenberg, Orphenians embark on a new adventure.

A steering committee wants to help all Orphenians — including those with financial constraints — make the trip. They’d like to defray the cost of meals and additional activities, too. To help contribute or offer ideas, click here, email lrosenberg@westport.k12.ct.us, or call 203-341-1309.

Want to hear Orphenians? Here’s their version of the intricate Haitian piece, “Tap Tap,” from the 2014 Spring Concert:

And here’s Rockin’ Jerusalem”:


Staples Music Program Doesn’t Miss A Beat

In just 2 years, Luke Rosenberg has taken his place with the legendary Staples High School choral directors George Weigle and Alice Lipson.

On a scale of 1-10, last night’s spring concert was at least an 11. A variety of choirs, choruses and ensembles wowed the crowd with a host of Broadway songs, from Les Mis, Fiddler on the Roof and many others.

The love between dozens of performers and their director was evident, as Rosenberg grew emotional honoring his graduating seniors.

To see what he has done in his brief time wielding the baton, check the 2 videos below.

The 1st is “Tap-Tap,” a Haitian song with some of the most intricate rhythms and harmonies you’ll find anywhere on the planet. It’s performed by the Orphenians — the elite singing group that, because of today’s manic teenage schedules, manages to rehearse just once a week.

The 2nd is “Seasons of Love,” the haunting melody from Rent performed by the underclass chorus and chorale. Soloists are Kate Griffin — a freshman who stuns the audience — and sophomore Nick Ribolla.

Music is just one of the many things our high school students do. And they do it very, very well.

Orphenians Tap Chanticleer’s Talent

Chanticleer is a 36-year-old, San Francisco-based ensemble. The New Yorker called them “the world’s reigning male chorus.”

Orphenians is a 56-year-old elite choir at Staples. Director Luke Rosenberg is working hard to make them the world’s reigning a cappella chorus — at least, at the high school level.

Orphenians director Luke Rosenberg. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Orphenians director Luke Rosenberg. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

On Wednesday, Chanticleer visited Darien High School for a choral festival. Participating were their hosts, plus choirs from Staples, Westhill-Stamford and Brewster Highs.

It was a long, intense but joyful day. First, everyone rehearsed 2 pre-selected pieces as a mass choir, under the direction of Chanticleer’s musical director.

Each high school choir then performed its own selected repertoire, for the other schools to enjoy. Next came Orphenians’ special 90-minute workshop with 3 members of Chanticleer.

The evening concert showed off each individual choir. Finally, Chanticleer combined with all several hundred students for 2 tutti numbers: Monteverdi’s “Si Ch’io vorrei morire” and Andre Thomas’ “Rockin’ Jerusalem.”

Here’s an iPhone recording of Orphenians performing “Tap-Tap.” You can hear the group live at Staples, later this spring.

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)