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'Olde' and 'newe' reunite for choral show Annapolis group to sing for 150th anniversary of First Presbyterian


Performing music from Gregorian chants to madrigals to folk songs, the Newe Renaissance Voyces has become a fixture in the Annapolis choral music scene since the group formed in 1978.

Over 17 years, the group's repertoire has expanded to include more than 100 songs while individual members have come and gone from the ensemble.

Tonight, the Voyces -- "olde" and "newe" -- will open a concert series celebrating the 150th anniversary of First Presbyterian Church in Annapolis with a reunion concert as five of the eight former members return from as far away as Canada, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

"It will be real wonderful to actually meet some of the people who have sort of birthed it and been through the process," said Carolyn Sonnen, 46, of Cape St. Clair, who joined the group four years ago and is its newest member.

The members, who rehearse to- gether two mornings a week, except during summers, and perform many times a year, especially during the Christmas season, have become more than fellow singers.

"Over the years, the friendships that have been built up are very important," said Loraine W. Shaw, 77, director of the group and an original member. "There have been births, there have been deaths and marriages and kids going off to school."

The group's first director, Pat Rose, formed the ensemble in 1978 because she wanted to sing in a group that could rehearse during the day and that could concentrate on performing madrigals, Mrs. Shaw said. Madrigals were written during the Renaissance, when music started to drift away from the traditional emphasis on religious themes.

"A madrigal has a lot of 'tra la las' and 'no no nos' that are fun to sing," Mrs. Shaw said .

Mrs. Rose, a retired elementary school music teacher and Annapolis resident, found several recruits for the group among her fellow choir members at First Presbyterian.

Over the years, the Voyces have added many styles to their repertoire and now sing music that spans from the 13th century to the present.

Their emphasis on Renaissance and early music, and the period costumes they often wear in performances make them an unusual part of the area's music scene, said Ava M. Shields, musical and artistic director of the Annapolis Opera Company and the immediate past director of the Arundel Vocal Arts Society.

Holding the concert at First Presbyterian Church was a natural fit, since many of the past and present Voyces have ties to the church, Mrs. Shaw said.

The concert will be a retrospective, tracing the group's transformations over the years, with each grouping, from the founding members to the current group, singing some of its favorite songs.

The 8 p.m. concert is free and open to the public, but those attending are asked to bring donations of canned foods or hygiene items for the Lighthouse Shelter.

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