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 svc@svcmusic.org 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.

A Fantastic Fall Season Awaits Our Youth Chorale!

Auditions and rehearsals for the Youth Chorale start in August!
Russell Wynn, Jr., Music Director/Conductor

Russell Wynn, Jr., Music Director/Conductor

We are quite excited to hear more incredible young talent here in Central Pennsylvania! We are also proud to announce our new music director and conductor Russell Wynn Jr!

Born and raised in Sunbury, Russ is a graduate of Shikellamy High School and Susquehanna University. He has had 25 years of experience as a music director and conductor. He now serves as the director of Secondary Choral Music and Theater at the Milton High School, as well as coordinator of Music Ministries at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Milton. Russ will provide the artistic vision for the SVYC programming, and lead and select singers for all three youth ensembles: Preparatory Chorus, Camerata and High School Valley Singers.

Important information from Coleen Renshaw:


  • Auditions for Fall Session include grades 3-12
  • Auditions are Saturday, August 20th from 9AM till noon and Monday, August 22nd from 6 to 8PM
  • Auditions will take place at:
    Reformed Baptist Church | 830 Buffalo Rd. Lewisburg
  • All Singers (returning and new) must audition. Mr. Wynn, our new director, would like to hear each singer in order to choose music and to place each singer in the correct group. Each audition will last approximately 7 minutes. Please have your child prepare a short excerpt – a verse and chorus of a song. They will also be asked to do some vocalizing and ear training exercises.
  • Attire will also be fitted on these two dates. Amy Caron will take care of the attire as she has done in the past.
We are so thrilled to educate and inspire our youth, and thank you for your continued support!

We are so thrilled to educate and inspire our youth, and thank you for your continued support!


  • Rehearsals for all three groups – Preparatory, Camerata and Valley Singers will take place on Monday nights. Rehearsals will also be at the Reformed Baptist Church.
  • Times for Rehearsals:
    Preparatory – 5:00 to 5:45
    Camerata – 6:00 to 7:00
    Valley Singers – 7:15 to 8:15
  • First rehearsals will begin August 29. There will not be rehearsal on Labor Day.

Concert Info

  • The dress rehearsal and concert will take place at:
    St. John’s United Church of Christ | 1050 Buffalo Rd. Lewisburg
  • Dress Rehearsal is November 12th, from 10 AM to Noon, and the Concert is November 13 at 3PM


  • The tuition cost will be $90.00 per singer. There is also a $10.00 rental fee for the concert attire. There will be a $5.00 discount if there is a sibling in one of the groups. There will also be a $5.00 discount if a returning singer refers a new singer who is accepted.
  • For returning singers, it would be greatly appreciated if you could pay your tuition fee on the day of your audition. Tuition fees for new singers will be due at the first rehearsal on August 29. To make the accounting process a bit easier, please include the payment form with your check, cash, money order or credit card information. You may want to arrive a little early at auditions to fill out the necessary forms. If you need to pay in two installments, the first payment is due August 29 and the final payment is due September 26.


  • If you need to apply for a scholarship, please return the form on the audition day. You will be notified before the first rehearsal if the scholarship will be granted.

To schedule your audition, please call Coleen Renshaw at 570-765-0637 or email at rrenshaw@ptd.net to make an appointment for your singer.

For more information about our Youth Chorale, visit youth.svcmusic.org.

Join us for 2016 Camp eXpresso!

camp_expressIt is challenging to balance the technical demands of singing well with expressing your inner most artistic self.  This is exactly what we work to accomplish with every child that attends Camp eXpresso!

Our camp is an excellent opportunity for young singers to gain the valuable learning tools for expressive and successful stage singing.  We have an expert camp staff of experienced educators and are also joined by local artists who share their tricks of the stage. All campers will practice moving and singing expressively in preparation for a showcase performance in the beautiful outdoor tabernacle.

The combination of Central Oak Height’s natural beauty and our camp activities will encourage artistic communication and collaboration in a nurturing and engaging environment.  This is not just something for kids to do, it is a transformative experience.

Valerie Flamini Caldwell
Camp eXpresso! Director
vafc@ptd.net | 

More about Camp eXpresso!


  • Expert singing instruction
  • All Full Day campers will have a solo they will work on with a studio instructor.
  • Choreography will be taught along with their solo as a part of their small group and also along with large group songs.
  • Singing and Signing- Students will learn and perform a song while using sign language.
  • Campers’ creative skills are exercised when they design stage props out of repurposed and organic materials.
  • Free Camp eXpresso! T Shirt
  • Fire Side Jam Night: Campers will enjoy pool time, dinner and jamming out by the large camp fire pit!
  • Everyday our campers will be given a snack and drink to keep up their energy!
  • Campers will enjoy making music and discovering their expressivity through the natural setting at Central Oak Heights- trails, outdoor stage, gazebo, grassy fields and porches…Oh my!
  • Campers will perform in the beautiful Central Oak Heights tabernacle in a FREE to the public Showcase Camp eXpresso! concert on Saturday, July 23

Requirements for FULL-DAY Camp:

  • 9am-4pm – $350 per student
  • Singing PLUS solo experience along with a music teacher referral is required — download Full Day Camp Approval Form to be filled out by your chosen music professional regarding your child’s experience.
  • Following approval, Director Valerie Flamini Caldwell will provide parent/guardian with a website link to finalize registration and make payment.


  • Expert singing instruction
  • Choreography will be taught along with their large group songs.
  • Singing and signing- Students will learn and perform a song while using sign language.
  • Half Day campers will have the opportunity to audition for a solo to be performed at the Saturday Showcase concert July 23.
  • Free Camp eXpresso! T Shirt
  • Everyday our campers will be given a snack and drink to keep up their energy!
  • Campers will enjoy making music and discovering their expressivity through the natural setting at Central Oak Heights!
  • Campers will perform in the beautiful Central Oak Heights tabernacle in a FREE to the public Showcase Camp eXpresso! concert on Saturday, July 23

Requirements for HALF-DAY Camp:

  • 9am-12noon – $200 per student
  • Singing experience is required – this can be through school, private study, church, community music groups or classes.  However, there is no need for a referral.
  • A secure PayPal payment will ensure your child’s/childrens’ reservations today!
  • To complete the registration process, download the required forms and return to SVYC by Friday, June 17, 2016.

Bill Payn Talks About The Upcoming Pops Concert

Do you remember the Beatles, Carole King, Roy Orbison, Paul Simon, Cole Porter, James Taylor? Come party like it’s 1969!


The upcoming Pops Concert will bring down the house on our chart-topping 45th Anniversary concert season for the SVC. We’ve received ovations and rave reviews throughout the season and anticipate more. Join us!

Friday & Saturday,
May 6 & 7 at 7:30 pm
Weber Auditorium, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove – view google map

I’ve been involved with the Chorale for almost 20 of those years and feel that audience attendance, financial support, morale, and recognition in our local communities are at record-levels … these are exciting and rewarding trends!

To prepare for this performance, Coleen Renshaw and I spent countless hours reviewing each song from every Pops concert the SVC has done in the past, and we’ve chosen our new programming from the “oldies”  that have proved most crowd-pleasing — hits by the Beatles, Carol King, Cole Porter, Michael Jackson and other incredible luminaries. Some of the encore numbers are performed as originally composed, many others feature new updated arrangements.

Rehearsals are going great; more than 70 singers are scheduled to perform, along with the seven-piece SVC Stage Band. Our own SVC  home-grown talent will be showcased  in several numbers — soloists, duets, men’s and women’s quartets and other mixed ensembles.

Susquehanna University’s Weber Chapel Auditorium offers very comfortable accommodations for lots of music lovers, and I hope to see your there. And on a final note …check out our new 2016-17 programming — we’ll be sending you more details but trust me, our upcoming season promises to be another big step forward!


SV Youth Chorale Spring Concert set for April 10

The Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale (SVYC) is pleased to announce its Spring Concert, “Reflections on the Journey,” to be held Sunday, April 10 at 3 pm at Selinsgrove Middle School. Accompanied by pianist Coleen Renshaw, the music will also highlight guitarist Anthony Lattarulo, percussionist Steve Mitchell, and bass player Tim Latshaw.

The concert featuring all three SVYC ensembles highlights repertoire performed during the last seven years under the direction of Valerie Flamini Caldwell. Caldwell is completing her tenure as SVYC Music Director this spring at this farewell concert, with her replacement to be announced later this spring.

youth_sandyhookA special feature of the concert will be a reprise of the 2013 SVYC YouTube  performance of “Where All is Possible, I AM” composed by Director Caldwell as a gift of peace for the families of Newtown, CT to commemorate the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

High school Valley Singer soloists Zach Frey and Jordan Slack will be featured in the opening number “Geronimo” by Australian indie band Sheppard. Singer Giselle Taylor of Lewisburg will be accompanied by her sister Linette on piano in “Cold” by Jeff Williams. Austin Duclos solos in “There’s a Hero” while Ava Lamb, Emma Kristian-Gural and Jenna Jerdon remind us – “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

The young Preparatory Chorus will bring a smile to your face with “A, You’re Adorable” and soloists Allison Drum, Nicodemus Charles, Katie Kelley, Ryan Caldwell, and Elise Zimmerman. Camerata singers reprise “Over the Rainbow,” the 1939 Wizard of Oz hit made famous by Judy Garland. An arrangement of “The Storm is Passing Over” by Philadelphian Charles Tindley, one of the founding fathers of American gospel music and composer of “We Shall Overcome,” will feature Maren Snow, Isabel Proger, and Nora Britton.

A quartet of Susquehanna Valley Chorale members will lend their adult voices to the young voices in “March of the Toreadors” from the opera Carmen. SVYC members Hannah Doll, Linette Taylor, and Gabby Norman will perform their version of the “SVYC Medley.”

Dancer Erica Hoffman-Aho will perform to “Reel a’ Bouche,” a French Canadian mouth music piece in which the singers imitate instruments that normally play the reel. Shawnee Floyd and Jenna Jerdon solo on “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers. The concert will end with a rousing performance of “Kia Hora Te Marino,” with text adapted from Polynesian Maori proverbs.

Tickets for the SVYC spring concert are $10 for adults, $5 for students. Children 6 years and under are free. Tickets can be purchased online  or by calling 570-547-0455.

The Youth Chorale is the educational outreach of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale (SVC).

Registration Open for Summer Singing Camp

camp_expresso_logoThe Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale and Susquehanna Valley Chorale are proud to sponsor Camp eXpresso!, their fourth annual week-long training camp for enthusiastic youth singers, the week of July 18 – 23 at Central Oak Heights, West Milton, PA.

The Camp eXpresso! experience challenges singers to balance the demands of singing well technically with the enjoyment of expressing their inner most artistic self. Camp is an excellent opportunity for budding young performers to gain the valuable learning tools for expressive and successful stage singing from our expert staff members. Activities will encourage communication and cooperation in a nurturing, engaging educational environment. A showcase performance will feature all campers on Saturday, July 23.

Led by Camp Director Valerie Flamini Caldwell and a staff of experienced music professionals, this year’s Camp includes Half-Day and Full-Day options and is open to any singer who has finished 3rd grade to those who are approaching 12th grade. Solo experience and a music teacher referral are required for participation in the Full-Day program.

Registration deadline is Friday, June 17. Our desire to provide a quality experience means space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more camp and cost information, click here.

Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale Director Opening


The Susquehanna Valley Youth Chorale (SVYC) is the educational outreach of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale (SVC), Lewisburg PA. Currently, the SVYC operates with a fall session in Lewisburg, PA and a winter/spring session in Selinsgrove, PA. Each session culminates in a public performance. Singers may participate in one session or both. The SVYC’s Project Purpose has provided opportunities for the singers to share the gift of song with the community beyond concerts. The Youth Chorale has the opportunity periodically of collaborating in performance with the SVC director and chorus.

Currently, we serve auditioned regional singers in grades 3 – 12 in the fall, and 2 – 12 in the winter/spring. Three ensembles directed by the SVYC director are offered – Preparatory Chorus, Camerata, and high school Valley Singers. The SVYC Director is supported by a paid accompanist, the Executive Manager of the SVC, a SVYC Support Committee, and the Board of Directors of the SVC organization. The SVYC Director reports to the president of the SVC Board.

In the last five years, the SVYC has reached out to the community through the gift of song. In 2011 they organized and sang in the Veterans Day Youth Benefit Concert with school choruses from Lewisburg, Mifflinburg, Milton, and Selinsgrove, each performing and then singing in a mass choir benefiting the organization Our Military Kids. In 2013, the youth recorded an original song by Caldwell commemorating the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy’s one year anniversary. SVYC singers have performed in adult SVC performances of Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicholas, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Opera Gala II, and holiday concerts.

Historically, the SVYC works each session with approximately 50 – 70 singers, and has been operating since the mid 90’s. The SVC is 45 years strong and holds the position as one of the premier choral groups in central Pennsylvania.


A qualified candidate for this part-time, independent contractor position will hold a bachelor’s degree (master’s desirable) in choral conducting, voice, or appropriate related field. He/she must be able to set and produce a high standard of appropriate vocal production based on the age of the singers, have a broad knowledge of choral repertoire, and have experience in working successfully with young singers. He/she will serve the important role of recruiting regional singers and communicating throughout the season via email, social media, etc. with the SVYC membership, teachers, the community, and the SVYC Support Committee.

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience within the salary guidelines of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale organization. This position will begin July 2016.


Interested candidates should email a cover letter, resume, names and contact information of 3 professional references to – svc@svcmusic.org. – with the subject “Youth Chorale Application.” Deadline for receipt of applications is March 1, 2016.

Susquehanna Valley Chorale is a registered 501(c)3, non-profit, charitable organization.
PO Box 172, Lewisburg, PA 17837

Wonder, Intrigue, Redemption


Felix Mendelssohn

Resurrection of a dead youth. The worship of false idols that draws God’s wrath. A dramatic contest of the gods and a fiery chariot that takes a prophet into the heavens. Welcome to Mendelssohn’s Elijah, an oratorio filled with wonder, intrigue, and redemption.

From its first performance in 1946 at the Birmingham Festival in England, the work was a triumph and it remains hugely popular today. SVC Music Director and Conductor William Payn describes the oratorio as a “dramatic, powerful statement,” that provides a uniquely enjoyable and satisfying experience for singers and listeners alike.

German composer Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family in 1809, a time of virulent German anti-Semitism. Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart before him, Mendelssohn was regarded as a child prodigy. He made his first public concert appearance at age nine and during his teen years composed several full symphonies that demonstrated the power of his genius. Mendelssohn idolized Johann Sebastian Bach—then little known outside of northern Germany—and helped catapult Bach’s popularity throughout Europe. Mendelssohn died at the age of 38 after several years of ill health. Elijah was last sung by the Chorale in 1999 for our 30th anniversary celebration.

Our 45th anniversary encore presentation features full orchestra, youth soloist Rachel Wakeman, and four world-class guest soloists. Make plans now to attend this most memorable event!

Fall Concert: Elijah
Saturday, October 17, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 18, 3 p.m.