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Nuance and Connection

Artistic Director Tom Morgan reflects on Ars Nova’s recent collaboration with Apollo5

On October 23 and 24, we hosted the exceptional English vocal ensemble Apollo5. The events of our 36 hours with these amazing musicians included a combined rehearsal with our two ensembles, an energetic 1.5 hour workshop with over 300 students from five area high schools and middle schools, and an inspiring concert at the beautiful Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Denver. Ars Nova Singers contributed two pieces of our own to the program: Steven Stucky’s “Whispers” and Boulder composer Paul Fowler’s “Yet Another Layer,” a work that we commissioned in 2016.

BBC Music Magazine recently reviewed one of Apollo5’s concerts, calling it “an inspired program, superbly sung throughout.” They certainly lived up to this praise in their Denver performance! The ensemble sang selections from their latest CD recording “Haven” (released on October 20) ranging from a movement from William Byrd’s “Mass for Five Voices” to two new works by contemporary Ukrainian women composers.

I have to comment on the school workshop they did. One of the directors sent me a note:

Tom and Ars Nova Singers, I want to thank you wholeheartedly for hosting Apollo5 yesterday at Monarch High School. What a treat that was! To allow my students (I brought 8th graders) the opportunity to hear this group was phenomenal. Seeing adults who make a living singing is a rarity and Apollo5 definitely set the standard for a number of my students. Thanks again and I hope that you do more of this in the future.

Just look at the engagement, the faces of these young people at the workshop! This is the future of our art, and we are so grateful to Apollo5 for energizing and inspiring them.

That humans can come together, with only their voices, and create such perfect harmony, such a unification of sound and nuance, lifts us all. In this era of deep division across the world, on seemingly every level, this music offers an inspiring alternative vision: without outside tools or structures, we can meet each other and come together to create something beautiful, and something vastly more than the sum of our individual parts.