When it comes to choirs in San Francisco, Noe Valley gets all the glory.
Despite being set in a “rough part of town,” it’s home to the Church where Sister Mary Clarence (from Sister Act) directed her fellow nuns to singing success.
With all due respect to our favorite Sister, Hayes Valley is home to a new chorus that could give those women a run for their money. And they’ve made their home here at the Kanbar Center.
Resound Ensemble is a small, non-religious eclectic chamber chorus that was founded last year by Music Director Ryan Connolly.
Referring to themselves as “a vocal ensemble for the shuffle generation,” this group takes pride in being comprised of singers from extremely diverse backgrounds and a repertoire that feels like someone turned your iPod on shuffle.
We got the opportunity to interview Ryan and sit in on one of Resound’s recent rehearsals at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center (44 Page). We were blown away by the fun the group had during practice and the chances they take with a multitude of songs.
Take a few minutes to get to know Ryan and Resound.
Q: What made you start this organization?
A: I went to St. Olaf College (yes, that St. Olaf) which had a big chorus program. I had a bunch of friends there who started a Men’s group and they went professional (and they’re still together).
When I moved here, I was working as a Church Choir Director and missing concert music and the chance to learn a lot of pieces over a period of time instead of a service every week. I missed the collaboration that comes from having a large performance to work toward.
Q: How did you recruit people to audition for Resound?
A: We held 50 auditions and took 35 people. I got the word out by posting on Craigslist, putting up flyers, and spreading audition info on Facebook and Twitter. After the first round of auditions, I had callbacks and formed individual sections and saw if folks could sing with others.
Q: Once you got the chorus assembled, how long was it before your first performance?
A: We had 12 weeks of rehearsals before our first concert which was held on November 18 at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church.
Q: Why the name Resound?
A: I wanted something that was current, but not Italian (which a lot of Choruses use since most musical language is Italian). I didn’t want a barrier to the name such as geography, demographics or types of music. We found “Resound” to be the right word that was optimistic and gave off the kind of energy we were looking for. We use the word resound (or resonate) to anything that speaks to us.
Q: What do you like most about directing this chorus?
A: It’s fun to sit back and watch each other enjoying singing and getting to know each other. There’s a huge variety of people but everyone in the group is really chill and gets along. They like music and they like each other. They took a huge leap of faith by auditioning for a chorus that only had a one paragraph description on a website.
Q: What kind of stuff do you sing?
A: Mixed a cappella, sometimes with an accompaniment. Folk, pop, world… and we try to thread it all through a theme. The sum is greater than the parts.
Q: What’s it like to practice at the Kanbar Center?
A: Super convenient, clean, well-organized and safe (there’s always a security guard present). We usually go to Martuni’s or Pause Wine Bar after rehearsals too.
Q: What’s in store for the future?
A: We’re hosting a fundraiser brunch in June. There will be food and drinks for those come. We’ll sing a few songs and it’s a chance to get to know the group.
We want to grow to about 50 people, but right now we’re focused on getting established, working out some bugs and then doing more recruiting.
We asked a few members about why/how they joined Resound Ensemble and what keeps them coming back. Here’s what they had to say:
“I sang in a group of 250 people that was massive and we sang a repertoire that wasn’t that diverse. Resound offered an opportunity where my voice matters more.” -Matt Cook
“I woke up on a Saturday at 6am and received an email from a friend I hadn’t seen in years. She was saying how she was in an awesome choir and I should check it out. Turns out auditions were being held that day so I reached out to the chorus and auditioned at noon. Yes, as in hours later. It was completely unexpected, but I had been looking for a chamber choir so it turned out perfectly.” -Sarah Lamb
“It’s so cool what happens with this choir. You come in and you’re tired or stressed out from work, and all we focus on is our voice and spirits and we’re moved and transformed as a group. I always leave in a good mood. Ryan’s really good at technique and helping us all grow as individual singers and as a choir.” -Charu Juneja
You can like Resound on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and attend their spring recital, The Deep Heart’s Core, which is being held on either Friday, May 18 or Saturday, May 19 at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church (2097 Turk).
And as a parting gift, check out a sample of Resound rehearsing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot from last week. Happy listening… and see you at their concert.