Four years ago, Tony Thornton began Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble with a mission to create a professional-caliber vocal arts ensemble with the heart and dedication of an amateur chorus. Dr. Thornton is well acquainted with professional ensembles, as you can see from his biography.
The Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble is beginning to realize Tony’s vision. A unique chamber chorus, we draw our volunteer singers from throughout Massachusetts and beyond. We have received rave reviews from audiences and newspapers, and have earned the respect of area cultural institutions.
The ensemble performs choral miniatures and masterworks from all periods and styles, and collaborates with other community/professional organizations.
“Performances at the level of Illuminati's give the listener a clear window into the composer's soul.” - Clifton Noble Jr, The Republican, Oct. 15, 2016
Active as a conductor, educator, clinician, and author, Tony Thornton received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Voice from Westminster Choir College, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Louisiana State University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting and Historical Musicology from the University of Arizona. He studied conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt, Kenneth Fulton, Frauke Haasemann, Margaret Hillis, Bruce Chamberlain, and Donald Neuen.
Trained first as a singer, Dr. Thornton has performed as a tenor soloist throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. As a member of the Westminster Choir, he performed at the Spoleto Festival in Italy and the United States, and he has recorded with Leonard Bernstein, Riccardo Muti, Robert Shaw, Claudio Abbado, and Zubin Mehta. He sang for seven years as a member of the Grammy Award-winning Robert Shaw Festival Singers.
As a guest conductor and clinician who is active on the national and international choral scene, Dr. Thornton has worked with over 300 women’s, men’s, and mixed choruses in public schools, colleges, churches, community, and professional organizations in 24 states, Japan, and throughout Europe.
Dr. Thornton is the author of The Choral Singer’s Survival Guide (giamusic.com) and he maintains a choral series in his name at Colla Voce Music. He is currently Director of Choral Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he oversees an extensive choral program, guides the graduate program in choral conducting, and serves as Director of the Choral Area for the UMass Summer Conducting Institute. He is the Founding Artistic Director of Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble.
Dr. Thornton holds active memberships in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO). He is President of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.
Sarah Ehle received her Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Wheaton College, and her Master’s degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her experience includes working with choirs as well as collaborating with musicians of almost every instrument, working as rehearsal pianist for a student opera program, and playing for several student musical theatre revues.
Ms. Ehle is on staff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she works with the UMass Chamber Choir and several studios. She also accompanies Suzuki group classes at the Northampton Community Music School, and has worked as a staff accompanist at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut.
Illuminati is launching our 2017-18 season with an exciting October
On Saturday, Oct 14 at 7:00 pm, we welcome legendary conductor Joseph Flummerfelt, for a community sing of the four hands "London" version of the Brahms Requiem. Featuring Jamie-Rose Guarrine, soprano, David Tinervia, baritone, and pianists Grant Moss and Larry Schipull. The event will take place at Edwards Church, 297 Main St, Northampton.
Joseph Flummerfelt is founder and musical director of the New York Choral Artists, an artistic director of Spoleto Festival USA, and for 33 years was conductor of the world-renowned Westminster Choir. He has served as guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, and the San Antonio and Phoenix Symphonies. It's an honor to host him in the Pioneer Valley.
Tickets are $10 general/$5 student. Due to limited space, preregistration is strongly recommended.
On Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 4 pm, we join Arcadia Players under the baton of Ian Watson for a performace of the Vivaldi Gloria in their program Viva Vivaldi!.
Here is the blurb from their web site: Two of Vivaldi’s best-loved pieces feature in our season-opener - The Four Seasons and Gloria, RV 489. Susanna Ogata is the brilliant violin soloist in the first work, a virtuoso display depicting crisp spring mornings, melting summer heat, autumn revelry and winter chills. We join forces once again with the excellent Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble for the Gloria."
Tickets are available at arcadiaplayers.org.
Our season continues in 2018 with a performance of the Rachmaninoff All-Night Vigil with the UMass Chamber Chorus on February 24, the Verdi Messa da Requiem with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on April 28, and our own spring concert on June 16. Please come back here in a few months for more details.If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entrance into the ensemble is by audition only (see audition process below). Dr. Thornton seeks singers with considerable choral experience. While perfect sight reading is not required, all singers must fully prepare repertoire before the first rehearsal. Illuminati makes music from the beginning.
Dr. Thornton is building an ensemble with a beautiful, communicative sound: tall, warm, vibrant, and round vowels; a wide dynamic palette; an inner rhythmic drive; and in-tune and balanced resonance. In the soprano section he is looking for lyric, energized purity; in the alto section a rich, full sound; in the tenor section a lyric, high/forward, yet warm sound; and in the bass section a rich baritone sound with forward placement that is not overly dark.
If you are interested, please complete the form here and we will email you an audition confirmation with possible times.
The audition takes approximately ten minutes. Singers will be asked to perform scales using a variety of articulations (legato, staccato, and marcato) and dynamics to demonstrate color, range, quality, and flexibility. A segment of the audition will emphasize sight-reading and tonal memory (with accompaniment). Finally, each singer should prepare his or her vocal part of this PDF excerpt from BWV 76 (Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, measures 20-36 only). The excerpt will be sung without accompaniment. Singers should perform as close to quarter=96-100 as possible. German is preferred, but a neutral syllable may be used.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.