A monthly column from the desk of Artistic Director Nils Fredland, with news, musings, and more!
Look at the stage at any Christmas Revels performance across the country, and the broad range of ages is immediately apparent.
Revels North opens up our Christmas Revels auditions to children starting at age 7…and there is no upper age limit. This makes for a sweet, unique, and inspiring experience for all involved. At the conclusion of the run of the show, there is an opportunity for the whole cast to gather together, standing in a circle, to share what being part of the Christmas Revels has meant to them. The common theme at the closing circle is how amazing it is to collaborate with, and learn from, people that aren’t necessarily your peers. I see heart-warming friendships develop across generations, occurring as a matter of course during the intense togetherness of the rehearsal process. It is a wonderful example of humanity. Open, nonjudgmental, benevolent, loving. The Christmas Revels is a first-rate theater performance…and the Christmas Revels is also a family. Year after year, this is true, and it’s why both audiences and cast members keep coming back.
Children grow up, of course, and age out of the children’s chorus. The middle ground of being a teenager – no longer a child, not yet an adult – can be challenging. Revels North is blessed with a remarkable group of committed teens, and with the vision of my predecessor Maureen Burford, and the skilled, sensitive, supportive, and energetic leadership of Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Revels Teens formed in 2013 and has been a steady part of our year-round programming since.
I’ve inherited a robust and beautifully-formed program, thanks to Maureen and Lynn. Moving forward, I carry several goals for the Revels Teens (and all teens involved in Revels North programs): to give them close access to the various guest artists that come across Revels stages throughout the year; to showcase their artistic ability through performance opportunities, both in and outside of the Revels context; and to provide them with opportunities to step into visible leadership roles in the community. Being teenaged in the context of Revels need not be isolating! I celebrate, appreciate, and learn from all the amazing teens we are fortunate to have in our organization.
…and speaking of amazing teens…
Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to interview a couple of our Revels Teens; Emily Weatherill and Claire Jenisch. Emily and Claire, with their Sharon Academy classmate Annabel, recently formed a world music vocal group, “Maunder Trio,” in order to take part in a competition hosted by Young Tradition Vermont. Out of the nine groups chosen as finalists, Maunder Trio took the top prize – $1,000, and performance opportunities set up by YTVT.
Claire has performed with Summer Revels since she was a young girl, and has been in the Christmas Revels for the last three years. She takes private voice lessons with Revels Teens Director Lynn Mahoney Rowan, and was featured as a soloist in the 2015 Scottish-themed Christmas Revels. Emily shares a similar history, having participated in Summer Revels as a young girl, and in Christmas Revels for the last three years.
Among other things, I was curious about the origins of the group. Emily shared that she was motivated to form the trio because she wanted to be part of the Young Tradition Vermont competition. She and Claire had sung together in Revels Teens and Christmas Revels; Emily and Annabel sang together at Village Harmony camp; the three girls attend the same school. Maunder Trio was born…just one month before the competition! A little faith, a little courage, a strong motivating vision, and a whole lot of talent can equal extraordinary success.
They had fun performing for the judges and audience, and Claire and Annabel left shortly after their set to head off to Prom. Emily stayed around to represent the group as the results were announced. She was surprised and excited by the outcome, as were her band mates when she was able to share the news with them.
When asked about the name, Maunder Trio, Emily replied:
“I see letters as colors, and I like words. I started playing around with possible names for our trio, and Maunder was the one that stuck. It means ‘to speak ramblingly; to wander with your mouth’.”
I do hope that Maunder Trio continues to wander with their mouths…we’ll all be better off having the opportunity to hear them sing.
Thank you, Claire and Emily, for being such wonderful people, and for enthusiastically supporting Revels North. We adore you!