Rockin' with Renaissance Men
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 7:00pm
This free benefit concert will feature New England’s premiere professional male vocal chamber ensemble, RENAISSANCE MEN. Join them on a musical journey from the church to the tavern, including virtuosic Renaissance polyphony, traditional Bluegrass tunes with band, rollicking Estonian folk music, and drinking songs from around the world! The RenMen have performed all over the United States, delivering impassioned interpretations of men's music spanning multiple centuries and genres.. This concert will also feature a return guest appearance by ENSEMBLE LYRAE, a celebrated local women’s ensemble. Proceeds for this concert will go to support NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Free admission; suggested donation of $20.
(Backup snow date: Saturday, February 1)
The Boston choral scene is a vigorous one, teeming with artistic outlets for those singers passionate about ensemble performance. Therefore, it was strange to discover that so few groups existed in the area devoted to the wealth of repertoire written throughout the centuries for men’s voice. A few trips to the bar, many email chains, and some truly horrible group name suggestions later, Renaissance Men was formed in January of 2014. From their beginnings as a sextet, the group expanded to nine in their first official season. In November of 2014, they shed, somewhat, from Boston bred early music backgrounds in favor of a program of American religious and folk music entitled RenMen Roots. The audience may have been shocked to see erstwhile Bach specialists strumming away on banjo and upright bass, but their hooting and hollering validated RenMen’s first major attempt to push repertoire boundaries. In February 2016, The Boston Globe highlighted RenMen for their groundbreaking musical retrospective, RenMen 1965, which juxtaposed traditional choral music and rock/pop songs of the year. It also included the world premiere of Five Clippings from 1965, a multi-movement work for men’s voices using texts from Boston Globe articles published in 1965, by Charles Stacy III, then a student at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. This concert was featured in RenMen’s debut at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s “Stir” series in the 2016-17 season. In less than three years, Renaissance Men has paved their way into Boston’s cultural landscape with seven constructed concert series, the performance of several U.S. and world premieres by internationally-celebrated composers such as Patricia Van Ness and Daniel E. Gawthrop, and the garnering of a devoted following in their concerts, broadcasted live-streams, and social media outlets. Dedicated to the art of collaboration, RenMen has partnered with Boston City Singers, Ensemble Musica Humana, and in October of 2016 was featured in a talkback session on ensemble marketing and branding co-hosted by Boston Singers Resource and Greater Boston Choral Consortium. Renaissance Men is a proud member of Chamber Music America.
Eric Christopher Perry, tenor/artistic director/conductor
Lauded by the Boston Classical Review for his “expressive energy and ringing high notes,” deemed “sweet and appealing” by the Boston Globe, and complimented for his “clear and even tone” by New York Arts, Eric Christopher Perry is gaining an international reputation for his "indefatigable" energy and his imaginative chamber music performance as a conductor, vocal artist, and educator.
Mr. Perry has performed as a critically-acclaimed soloist with The Boston Camerata, Cantata Singers, Musica Sacra, Ashmont Hill Chamber Music, Orpheus Singers, Capella Clausura, New Hampshire Master Chorale, Andover Choral Society, Singers of Stow, Cambridge Chamber Singers, University of Massachusetts Bach Festival, and in a one-per-part performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 with Cambridge Concentus under the baton of Joshua Rifkin.
Mr. Perry is frequently seen with the Handel and Haydn Society as a soloist and a member of the ensemble. He is also a proud member of Emmanuel Music, with whom he has sung over fifty cantatas as an ensemble member or soloist, as well as performances of Bach’s Mattäus-Passion, a reconstructed version of Markus-Passion, and Weihnachts-Oratorium, and as a soloist in Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle.
Additionally, he made guest conducting appearances with the Nashua Sings Choral Festival and the New Hampshire Music Educators Association All State Women’s Choir. In 2013 he was the interim director of Plymouth State University’s University Chorale, with whom he conducted Adriano Banchieri’s madrigal cycle Il Festino nella sera del giovedì grasso. In 2013 Mr. Perry was the musical director/rhythm guitarist for concurrent productions of Spring Awakening at Plymouth State University and Emerson College. In 2017 he served as chorusmaster for two performances of the Hans Zimmer Live international tour in the New England region.
Mr. Perry currently serves as the Director of Choirs and Applied Associate of Music in Voice [Head of Voice] at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where he has led performances of Carol Barnett's The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass, Haydn's Schöpfungsmesse, and the North American premiere of Christoph Graupner's earliest known cantata, Ach, wo nun hin, from a new performance edition by Dr. Marius Bahnean. He served for three years as the Executive Director of the Nahant Music Festival, a summer music festival and young artist program in Boston's North Shore founded by acclaimed bass-baritone Donald Wilkinson, and continues to be involved artistically. Mr. Perry previously taught at the Phillips Academy Andover, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Plymouth State University, New England Conservatory Preparatory Division, and Federation University Australia in Ballarat, Victoria. He is a proud member of American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and is currently serving his first term as a board member-at-large for the Greater Boston Choral Consortium.
Anthony Burkes Garza, bass/general director
Anthony Burkes Garza, bass, is a native of the Houston, TX area, and has been a proud Bostonian resident for almost a decade. The much indulged son of an elementary school music teacher and a dentist, he has benefited all his life from a wonderful family that consistently encourages his artistic endeavors (whilst simultaneously providing top notch dental care). Upon graduation from Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in 2005, Anthony fulfilled a lifelong dream of escaping the interminable heat of the Gulf Coast and enrolled at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. Although he started as a piping tenor, the climate change must account for the drastic drop in vocal range that occurred during the course of the following decade. He graduated from NEC with a degree in Vocal Performance (under baritone Michael Meraw, with whom he still studies) and Music History (under Dr. Helen Greenwald). Since that time, Anthony worked many an odd job while establishing himself within the Boston choral scene, including a stints as an opera singing jester at the Medieval Manor (though his complete lack of hand-eye coordination made juggling an insurmountable challenge) and the desk manager of a high end hair salon.
Today, Anthony can be found living with his younger brother (a Berklee jazz voice student), renting and selling apartments in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and South End areas by day, singing with numerous professional ensembles by night, and occasionally tossing in an operatic role here and there for the sake of variety. Favorite recent roles include Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Donna Agata in Viva la Mamma, and Doctor Pangloss in Candide. Outside of the music world, his interests are mostly limited to eating as many dessert items as possible and leaping into handstands at the slightest provocation.
Will Prapestis, baritone/bassist
Heralded for his "stunning florid flourishes" and his "expressive, beautiful" singing, Baritone Will Prapestis performs frequently as a soloist and ensemble member throughout the Northeast. He has had the pleasure of singing with such ensembles as Boston Baroque, as a chorister, and a soloist and chorister with Emmanuel Music, Cantata Singers, Renaissance Men, of which he is a founding member, Labyrinth Choir, the Orpheus Singers, Exsultemus, with whom he made his BEMF debut, Cappella Clausura, Sound Icon, featured in the Monadnock Music Festival, Augmented, Copley Singers, Oriana Consort, Boston University Chamber Chorus, and the Fredonia College Choir. Well traveled, Will has had the pleasure of singing as a soloist and chorister in Boston's Jordan Hall and Emmanuel Center, as well as in New York, Providence, New Haven, Amherst, Buffalo, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Rome, Warsaw, Helsinki, Tallinn, and Rīga.
Will is also a very busy bass player, thoroughly active in the Boston and New York City Pop Music scenes, performing with as many as four bands as a bass guitarist, vocalist and arranger. He is also a highly-sought session artist.
Will is a native of Elmira, NY, and he earned his Bachelor of Music in Performance at SUNY Fredonia.
Peter C. Shilling, baritone/business manager
Baritone Peter C. Schilling (MN) has been singing in the Boston area for over thirty years and is equally at home with Gregorian chant as he is with modern composition. Peter holds a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and Cognitive Science & Linguistics from Brandeis University, where he sang under the direction of James Olesen, studied as a lyric baritone with Pamela Wolfe, and was a founding member of Company B, now the oldest performing group on campus. He has done both solo and ensemble work with the Brandeis Chamber Choir, Schola Nocturna, Night Song, A Joyful Noyse, and the Oriana Consort. Peter was a founding member of Vermilion and, most recently, Renaissance Men. He is currently a staff singer at Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill and lives in Westwood in an antique farm house whose pastures are now popularly known as “RenMen Farms”.
As Business Manager, Peter handles electronic ticket sales; venue, partner, and commission contracts; accounting; corporate and private donations; and financial miracle work.
Inspired by the natural beauty and brilliance of the constellation Lyra, Ensemble Lyrae brings together five uniquely and highly talented musicians. While each shines as a soloist, together, these women form deep connections in performing duets, trios, and quartets.
The pianist and four vocalists of Ensemble Lyrae seek to illuminate musical works often unknown or under-played. They also premiere cutting-edge pieces written specifically for the Ensemble and their remarkable sound.
Whether performing in a spacious concert hall or a more intimate salon-style setting at home, these captivating Boston-based musicians enliven the audience's senses, engage their imaginations, and invite them to live in a world of timeless beautiful sound.