On Saturday, October 14, 2023, Masterworks Choral Ensemble brings autumn to Olympia with its Fall Festival performance at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
As leaves change, so has the ensemble evolved, with new leadership under Artistic Director Ben Luedcke, who succeeds Gary Witley after his remarkable 42-year tenure.
This summer witnessed a record-breaking number of auditions, with over 20 new singers, bringing the membership close to 100.
“Fall Festival - Turn, Turn, Turn!” reflects the spirit of the season, encapsulating the sights and sounds of fall and gratefulness for the wonders of human existence. The evening's repertoire promises diversity, from soulful spirituals and traditional folksongs to Broadway delights and a memorable 90s Disney gem.
Ben Luedcke embarks on his first season with Masterworks, bringing with him an expansive background in choral direction. He currently serves as Minister of Music at Seattle First Baptist Church and holds the role of Artistic Director for the Bellevue Chamber Chorus. Ben is currently finishing his Doctorate of Musical Arts in choral conducting at the University of Washington, and he has taught at UW in the Choral, Musicology, and English departments.
Roslyn Dailey, President of the Board of Directors for Masterworks Choral Ensemble, shared her thoughts on the new leadership direction:
“I am so thrilled to have Ben as our Artistic Director. His deep knowledge of vocal performance has already helped strengthen our group and was one of the qualities that our hiring committee was most excited about. We really feel like we're entering a new age for Masterworks and Ben is the perfect person to help lead us in our journey.”
Before relocating to Washington, Ben earned a Master's in Choral Conducting from the University of Iowa. He then taught voice at Grinnell College and Monmouth College, directing the Grinnell Singers, Grinnell Oratorio Society, Monmouth Chorale, and the college's chamber choir. Ben is also recognized as a voice teacher and the dynamic leader behind several choral projects in Madison, Wisconsin. He co-founded and directed Voces Aestatis, which focused on 16th-century a cappella and steered the Madison Summer Choir for ten years, presenting choral orchestral compositions.
Ben shared his insights on the chosen pieces for the Fall Festival, stating,
“This concert is more than just a ‘changing of the seasons.’ After a first half that focuses on autumn in more of a literal sense, the second half expands to reflect on the passing of time and the interconnectedness of natural cycles. There is a grieving process that works itself out over the course of this concert as we examine the choices we have made and remember the loved ones we have lost; but as William Wordsworth states, there is ‘strength in what remains behind.’ In the end, even though one star fades, billions more continue to burn for millennia and another day breaks.”
Connie Groven, the ensemble's new member coordinator, expressed her excitement,
“Our August auditions added some vibrant, new talent to Masterworks Choral Ensembles’ ranks, and I’m so excited to see the renewed interest in choral singing! You can feel - and hear! - the energy building during rehearsals. I see joy on the faces of both returning and new members as the music for our Fall Festival begins to come alive.”
Such growth and revitalization signify an exciting era for the choir that has delighted Olympia for over 40 years. Please visit the Masterworks Choral Ensemble website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Masterworks Choral Ensemble “Fall Festival - Turn, Turn, Turn!”
Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023 Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: Washington Center for the Performing Arts Main Stage, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501
Tickets: $12-24, from the Washington Center for the Performing Arts website.
Shirley Stirling, of Lacey, writes about good things people in Thurston County are doing. If you’d like to nominate someone to be profiled, contact her at shirley@theJOLTnews.com or comment below.
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