SVYC Spring Concert Features Young Singers from Seven School Districts

The Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale (SVYC), an educational outreach program of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, will hold its spring concert, “There Has to be a Song” on Sunday, April 30 at 3 p.m. at Selinsgrove Middle School, 401 North 18th Street, in Selinsgrove.

The performance will be under the direction of the Music Director Russ Wynn Jr. with piano accompaniment by Coleen Renshaw. Six Susquehanna University music education students are assisting with rehearsals as part of a Choral Methods Class.

This year, the SVYC has included students from eight school districts: Muncy, Lewisburg, Milton, Mifflinburg, Danville, Shikellamy, Selinsgrove and Midd-West. Seven of those school districts will be represented during the spring performance.

Director Wynn says of the concert, “When you whistle a happy tune, there has to be a song. When you dance like no one is watching, there has to be a song and when you are a young singer with a blossoming talent, there definitely has to be a song.”

He continues, “Some parents say of their children that they have always been singers. Since they were little, they have walked around the house singing all the time, making up songs, singing as they played, singing to their pets. We are glad they have found a place in the SVYC to enjoy that passion with others. Come hear them sing out their joy and love of making music together.”

The ensemble will be performing songs from Jambo by Teddy Harrison to Better When I’m Dancin by Meghan Trainor and Everybody has a Dream by Billy Joel.

All three ensembles, Preparatory, Camerata and Valley Singers which together represent grades 2-12, will come together to perform works from Rodgers and Hammerstein which will also be featured at the Susquehanna Valley Chorale’s Pops Concert in May: I Whistle A Happy Tune from The King and I, Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music, So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music and The Farmer and the Cowman from Oklahoma.

Tickets for the performance are $10 for adults, $5 for youth, and free for children 6 and under and can be purchased at or by calling 570-547-0455.

For information about singing in the SVYC, please contact Coleen Renshaw at or call 570-765-0637.

Meet the Soloists for Voices of Light

The Spring concert Voices of Light features four acclaimed soloists. The biographies of these soloists are so impressive that members of the SVC are anticipatory of a stunning performance for the audience. The classic 1928 black- and- white movie The Passion of Joan of Arc will be playing in front of of the audience as the soloists, Chorale, and musicians perform behind them, creating a truly multimedia event.

Soprano soloist Emily Martin has regularly received acclaim for her “enchanting iridescence” (The Sarasota Herald Tribune) and has been called “dramatically energetic and skillful” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). A Connecticut native, Martin received her training at Boston University, the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She participated in the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers, the Chautauqua Opera Young Artist Program, the Virginia Opera Emerging Artist Program, and as a Phyllis Curtin Seminarian at the Tanglewood Music Center. Martin débuted at Carnegie Hall in Handel’s Messiah with the New England Symphonic Ensemble.

Alto soloist Dianna Grabowski, described as “glamorous” and “glowing-toned” by the Dallas Morning News, is a versatile performer experienced in a wide range of classical singing. She is a founding member of Armonia Celeste, an ensemble specializing in the expressive vocal music of the Italian renaissance and sings frequently with professional choruses including the Apollo Master Chorale, Vox Humana, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, as well as with Grammy-nominated ensemble, Seraphic Fire. Grabowski was featured in a PBS documentary presented by Early Music Television.

Heralded for his “powerfully expressive voice” (Washington Post, May 2009), tenor soloist Stephen Ng is an opera, oratorio, recital, and new music performer, performing in many operatic roles throughout the world. Other engagements include performing with Festival Internacional Cervantino (Guanajuato, Mexico), Theatre of Voices, Schönberg Ensemble (Amsterdam), Tanglewood Music Festival, Berklee College of Music, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ng received his D.M. at Indiana University and his M.M. at the New England Conservatory. He has been on the voice faculty at Stetson University in Florida and presently is a faculty member at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Bass soloist Brian Mextorf recently appeared as John Styx in Virginia Opera’s Orpheus in the Underworld and garnered praise for his “standout” performance (DC Metro Theater Arts). He was named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, North Carolina District, and placed second in the Southeast Region. Mextorf, a Williamsport native, is a graduate of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Virginia Opera young artist programs. He is an alumnus of The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Westminster Choir College, and The CoOPERAtive Program. This season he will appear in the New York City Opera production of La Traviata as Germont, in the Williamsport Symphony’s broadway concert, and in several choral concerts at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

Audiences may hear these professional soloists in the SVC Spring Concert to be held on March 11 at 7:30 PM, and March 12 at 2:00 PM at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg. The Campus Theatre has limited seating. Be sure to get your tickets now. You can purchase them online, by phone at the SVC office 570-547-0455 or at the door. Parental Guidance Suggested.


Susquehanna Valley Chorale to Present Voices of Light

The Susquehanna Valley Chorale (SVC) will present Voices of Light, a work for chorale and orchestra featuring the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 at 2 p.m. at the Campus Theatre, 413 Market Street, downtown Lewisburg. Parental guidance is suggested.

The performance will feature four local soloists: Emily Martin, Soprano, Dianna Grabowski, Alto, Stephen Ng, Tenor and Brian Mextorf, Baritone.

Seating is limited; special seating arrangements will be made for SVC season subscribers. Subscribers are encouraged to inform the SVC of their attendance by calling 570-547-0455.

According to composer Richard Einhorn, Voices of Light explores the patchwork of emotions and thoughts that are stitched together into the notion of a female hero. Joan of Arc was deeply religious, utterly chaste, and astonishingly brave in the face of horrific abuse. In 1920 nearly 500 years after her death, Joan was declared a saint, the only saint who was first excommunicated and then burned.

Voices of Light uses a libretto that is a montage of ancient writings assembled primarily from female medieval mystics, including Joan of Arc. The music is scored for soloists, chorus, orchestra, and one very special bell. The backdrop for the performance is a screening of the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928).

Carl Dreyer, the director of the film The Passion of Joan of Arc, rejected most of the script that the studio commissioned and used excerpts from the trial transcripts. The film is set entirely at Joan’s trials and burning, compresses the action from seven months into a single day. Joan’s “character” is sung neither in a soprano or alto range, but in both simultaneously, with simple harmony and in rhythmic unison.

Voices of Light was performed by the Acadia Players to sold-out audiences at the Academy of Music in Northampton MA in February 1994. Since then, it has been featured at the Brooklyn Academy of Music New Wave Festival and recorded by Anonymous 4 and the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic and Choir.

The sponsor for the performance is the Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts, Inc. Co-sponsors include Anne & Tom Gates and Mifflinburg Bank & Trust Co. Underwriters include Brad Miller & Cheryl Stayton and Hank & LaVina Truslow.

Tickets for the performance are $20 for adults and $8 for students. A Season Subscription costs $70 and consists of four “freestyle” tickets that can be used at any SVC concert in any combination.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 570-547-0455.

A Review of Candlelight Christmas

Audience members were delighted as the Susquehanna Valley Chorale rang in the holiday season with the annual “Candlelight Christmas” performance. Rich voices filled the Zion Lutheran Church as the audience joined the Chorale in heartwarming carols. Candles creating a serene atmosphere were juxtaposed with bells ringing loud and clear through the sanctuary.

When asked for reactions to the concert, several audience members readily provided their input.”The concert was absolutely beautiful. Loved the brass with the choir, and, of course, the bells and harp. Lovely beginning for Christmas.”

A first-time attendee said, “This was our first SVC event. We heard about it from a family member of one of the choir members. We want to make it a yearly event to attend. My wife and I wanted to tell you how much we thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s concert. It is by far and away the most dramatic experience one can ever imagine. ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS!”

Another sampling of the many positive comments heard about the concert was, “I just wanted to express how much I enjoyed the SVC concert Saturday evening. It really put me in the holiday spirit. I can only imagine how much work you all put into preparing such an outstanding performance.”

And, high praise continued as an audience member singled out the conductor of the Chorale by saying,”The SVC concert was spectacular on Sunday. Please tell Bill [Payn] it was better than any Broadway show or TV special I’ve ever seen. What talent!”

For this concert, as with every one, the Chorale and conductor spend numerous hours of diligent work to practice and perfect each musical piece. For “Candlelight Christmas”, the Chorale then joined the Commonwealth Brass Ensemble, harpist Elizabeth Asmus, flutist Amy Kenny, and organist David Cover, to play the entire performance together, synchronizing and polishing all aspects of the music, before presenting it to audiences. The culmination of this detailed preparation results in appreciative audience comments as “This must be what Heaven sounds like at Christmas!”

The SVC would like to thank the sponsors, underwriters, subscribers, audience members and volunteers for making this year’s “Candlelight Christmas” performance possible. Please join us at our next performance in March. The SVC will present Voices of Light, a combination of music and film featuring the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc with a score by composer Richard Einhorn, on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 at 2 p.m. at the Campus Theatre in downtown Lewisburg. Tickets may be ordered online,, or by phone, 570-547-0455. Order early to reserve your place as seating is limited.

SVC A Candelight Christmas

img_3334The Susquehanna Valley Chorale (SVC) will usher in the Christmas season with A Candlelight Christmas on Saturday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 11 at 3 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Sunbury.

The performance will feature the singing of popular carols, Randol Bass’s Gloria and Dan Forrest’s Festival First Nowell, among many others. The SVC will be joined by the Zion Handbell Choir, Commonwealth Brass Ensemble, harpist Elizabeth Asmus, flutist Amy Kenny and organist David Cover.

The program includes melodies that are more than 600 years old as well as several works that are younger than the youngest members of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale.

SVC Conductor and Music Director Bill Payn says, “The SVC continues a tradition begun almost a century ago by the Dean of Kings College in Cambridge. Eric Milner- White took the message and the music of the Christmas season, and created a time of reflection and hope at a time deeply in need of both, following the end of the first World War”

He continues, “The traditional carols and music of the season which we will present this year follows that message of hope and celebration for all people of goodwill.”

The performance will include the following pieces:

  • Once in Royal David’s City – The text, by Cecil Frances Alexander, was published in a hymnal for children in 1848. It was set to music a year later by the English organist Henry John Gauntlett.
  • Festival First Nowell – An arrangement by composer Dan Forrest [b. 1978].
  • Greensleeves – The original title of the tune What Child is This, was well-known in Shakespeare’s time.
  • Sing We Now of Christmas – The arranger, Fred Prentice, was a choral director at the University of Alabama.
  • Ding Dong! Merrily on High – An English Christmas song based on a 16th c. French song.
  • Sweet Songs of Christmas – Composed in 1994 by Chris Dedrick [1947-2010].
  • Still, Still, Still – First published in a collection of folk songs in 1865.
  • Gabriel’s Message – Originally transcribed by Charles Bordes [1863-1909] and later translated into English.
  • Mariae Wiegenlied (Mary’s lullaby) – Originally a 14th c. Latin carol
  • Gloria – Written in 1990 by Randol Alan Bass
  • Wassail Carol – Composed by William Mathias [1934-1992] in 1969 from an anonymous 16th c. text

The sponsors for the performance are Dede and Bob Gronlund and Patricia McDowell. Co-sponsors include Coldwell Banker Penn One Real Estate – Martha and Alan Barrick, and Lois & William VandenHeuvel. Underwriters include Amy and Brooks Gronlund, C. Brian Crane and the law office of Derr, Pursel, Luschas, and Naparsteck, LLP, and Jean-Paul and Bernadine Richard.

Tickets for the performance are $20 for adults and $8 for students. Youth under the age of 12 are free. A Season Subscription costs $70 and consists of four “freestyle” tickets that can be used at any SVC concert in any combination.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 570-547-0455.

SVYC Fall Concert Features More than 50 Local Youth

The Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale (SVYC), a continued educational outreach program of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, will hold its fall concert, entitled “Peace” on Sunday, November 13 at 3 p.m. at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 1050 Buffalo Road in Lewisburg.

This will be the first SVYC performance under the direction of the new Music Director Russ Wynn Jr., who was announced in August. Coleen Renshaw will provide piano accompaniment for the performance.

With the theme of “Peace,” the three ensembles will perform a variety of choral selections, some of which will be accompanied by a vocal soloist, cellist Garet Holdren and two violinists. Youth will sing of the yearnings for peace from around the world and the featured selections will range from arrangements of African, Iraqi, and Israeli songs to music from Sister Act 2.

More than 50 singers will perform two pieces together: Cantate Domino (Sing Unto the Lord) by Ken Berg and One Candle by Andy Beck.

Preparatory singers will perform Song of Peace by Donna Butler, a traditional African folk song entitled Funga Alafia, Imagine a World by David Waggoner and finally Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant us peace).

Camerata singers will perform Gaudeamus Hodie (Let us rejoice today) by Earlene Rentz, Iraqi Peace Song by Lori Tennenhouse and Shalom, Pacem, Peace based on By the Waters of Babylon.

The high school Valley Singers will perform Juntos by Jim Papoulis, Kyrie Eleison with music by Christopher G.R. Fox, Joyful, Joyful from Sister Act 2:  Back in the Habit, and Adiemus by Karl Jenkins.

Tickets for the performance are $10 for adults, $5 for youth, and free for children 6 and under and can be purchased at or by calling 570-547-0455.

For information about Auditions and singing in the SVYC, please contact Coleen Renshaw at or call 570-765-0637.

Susquehanna Valley Chorale Performs at the ACDA

The Susquehanna Valley Chorale has been invited to perform at the prestigious American Choral Directors Association’s fall Pennsylvania conference.

The conference will take place on Nov. 4 and 5 at Susquehanna University and will welcome approximately 100 choral directors from across Pennsylvania.acda-image-78083 The Chorale will be one of three groups performing for 20 minutes each on Nov. 4 at Stretansky Concert Hall. The performance begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are available at the door.

Other choral groups included in the performance are the Harrisburg Choral Society and the Lycoming Baroque Choir and Orchestra.
The Chorale’s 20-minute performance at the conference will include 70 singers from across the region and will feature parts of the two works that were performed in its recent fall concert: “Sunrise Mass,” by Ola Gjeilo, and “Mass in G,” by Franz Schubert. The abbreviated performance will be accompanied on piano by Coleen Renshaw.

Dr. William Payn, Chorale conductor and music director, has attended the conference more than 30 times over the span of his extensive professional career.

dsc_1581“It is a great honor to be invited to perform during this conference where we will be singing in front of our colleagues from across the state,” he said. “Exceptional choral groups are invited to perform and we are grateful to be asked.”
The two-day conference also features statewide high school honor choirs, concert sessions for choirs, interest sessions for conductors and conductor masterclasses.

Tickets for A Candlelight Christmas are available online at or by calling             570-547-0455.

A Review of Symphonic Masses: Past and Present


“The music felt like waves crashing and it swept me away with its beauty.”

“In a world of chaos and politics, this was a wonderful and peaceful break; a breath of fresh air.”

These were the words from audience members over the weekend as the Chorale debuted its season opening.  The pieces blended beautifully, and the acoustics that the Midd-West high school auditorium offered allowed for the chorale’s voices to soar!

Chorale members shared enthusiastic comments made to them about the two connected (both are Masses) yet strikingly different (nearly 200 years separates their creation) choral works.

Alto Margaret Weirick said, “A friend told me that as she was listening to the Sunrise Mass she felt as if she was being transported on a wave dsc_1590and finally ended up floating on a cloud.” Margaret Abbott, who is a Chorale member but played with the orchestra for the performance commented, “My husband and I ran into a friend after the concert. He told us the Gjeilo was so moving it brought tears to his eyes.”

“Our priest attended the concert Saturday night. He is new to the area, so this was his first time to hear us. He was amazed at how beautiful we sounded,” said Tom Mauer, Bass. Soprano Andrea Halpern shared, “I ran into two people who came on Sunday deliberately to hear the concert again after hearing us on Saturday night.”

“The performances reminded me how strongly the power of music can inspire and transform lives. It was a privilege to help create beautiful sounds made by our exceptional and talented singers and orchestra. The level of commitment from our many sponsors, underwriters and subscribers is so very much appreciated and I am grateful for the enthusiastic support we receive from our faithful audiences,” said our conductor and music director Bill Payn. He is, indeed, helping fulfill the mission of the SVC to “inspire a love of great chorale music” by selecting such uplifting and unique pieces.

Thank you all for being a part of our Fall performance. Our performances are only possible with your support.

The second concert of this season, the popular Candlelight Christmas, is scheduled for December 10 at 7:30 PM and December 11 at 3:00 PM in Sunbury’s Zion Lutheran Church.

The Beauty of the Sunrise Mass


As we near our first concert of the season, I want to take a moment to reflect on the beauty that is the “Sunrise Mass.”

Created by contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, this Mass transcends the mind and soul, and leaves us to reflect on our own lives. A quote from the composer describing his work says, “It evolves from nebulous and pristine, to more emotional and dramatic, and eventually warm and solid.” Gjeilo’s style is classic and cinematic, bridging the gap from classical to new age. His mass works perfectly to be introduced alongside the classical Mass in G by Franz Schubert, bringing past to present. I believe our audience will embrace Sunrise Mass, and it will hopefully impact and inspire our listeners to enjoy their own sunrise.


13669622_10153521001355566_3652244048543379633_nOur conductor Bill Payn took the time to express his feelings for the piece. He says,

“Human development goes through many stages throughout a lifetime. From birth we become one with the universe and the earth which we inhabit. Sunrise Mass takes the listener on a journey through time and space, an unknown region which eventually settles and becomes grounded through daily interaction and meaningful relationships without boundaries.
The work combines emotional,dramatic moments with more pristine, transparent expressions. It takes us through the passages of life and musically goes to the very core of our being.”

Music has the power to inspire and heal, and I am thrilled that the Susquehanna Valley Chorale will bring this piece to life with the rich vocals of our soloists and the harmonious tones that make our beautiful chorale. I hope you will join us to celebrate a new generation of classical music!

Symphonic Masses: Past and Present will take place on Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 16 at 3 p.m. at Midd-West High School Auditorium, 540 East Main Street in Middleburg. Patrons should note the change in location due to the large number of SVC singers participating in the performance. The acoustics of this newly renovated and spacious auditorium are of the highest quality and the venue offers ample seating capacity in addition to a large, easily accessible parking lot.


The performance will feature almost 100 SVC singers including three local soloists: Amy Caron, soprano; Adam Dietz, tenor; and Andrew Finck, bass. They will be joined by a 24-piece string orchestra.

The Sponsor for the performance is the Walnut Acres Foundation and Jean and Bob Hormell are Co-Sponsors. Underwriters include Lois and Tom Clark, Nancy and Sam Craig, Kessey Kieselhorst, and Raven and Marvin Rudnitsky.



2016-17 Concert Season:
Four Performances in Four Communities

billpayn_conductorThe Susquehanna Valley Chorale (SVC) is pleased to announce its new 2016-17 concert season, which will include four performances in four different communities: Middleburg, Sunbury, Lewisburg, and Selinsgrove.

Bill Payn, SVC Conductor, says of the season, “It will be powerful, stunning, dramatic and magical.”

The season will begin on Saturday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 16, at 3 p.m., with Two Symphonic Masses: Past and Present at Midd-West High School in Middleburg. This new-to-the-SVC venue features ample free parking. The two works featured will be Sunrise Mass (2008) by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo who was born in 1978 and Mass in G (1815) by Franz Schubert. The performance will feature three SVC soloists: Amy Caron, soprano; Adam Deitz, tenor; and Andrew Finck, bass.

The SVC will continue its popular holiday performance, A Candlelight Christmas, on Saturday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 11 at 3 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Sunbury. The performance will feature the singing of popular carols, Randol Bass’s Gloria and Dan Forrest’s Festival First Nowell. The SVC will be joined by the Zion Handbell Choir to ring in the holiday season, Commonwealth Brass Ensemble, harpist Elizabeth Asmus and David Cover on organ.

In the spring, the SVC will present Voices of Light, a combination of music and film featuring the 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc with a score by composer Richard Einhorn on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 at 2 p.m. at the Campus Theatre in downtown Lewisburg.  This critically-acclaimed performance has been presented by chorales around the world at locations such as Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Sydney Opera House and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. It has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s All Things Considered.

The final performance of the season will continue to be the SVC’s Pops Concert and this year’s theme will be The Golden Age of Musical Theatre on Friday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Weber Auditorium, Susquehanna University, in Selinsgrove. The music will feature Rodgers and Hammerstein favorites from Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King & I, The Sound of Music, State Fair, Cinderella and Flower Drum Song. The Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale will participate in this very special performance.

Singer Auditions
New singers in the Susquehanna Valley Chorale are welcomed twice every season through auditions with Conductor William Payn. All auditions will take place on August 30 from 6-6:45 p.m. (rehearsal to follow 7-9 p.m.) at Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lewisburg. Appointments are required. Please call 570-547-0455 or email to schedule an audition. Singers auditioning should be prepared to sing a selection of their choice and demonstrate understanding of a musical score.

A Season Subscription costs $70 and consists of four “freestyle” tickets that can be used at any SVC concert in any combination. Individual tickets range from $20-22 depending on the performance and $8 for a student ticket for all performances. Youth under the age of 12 are always free.

To purchase  tickets, click here.