Audience and Critical Responses to Voces Novae Programs
Meditations on Life~Death
Herald Times review: "And then, of course, there was music, sung ever so fervently by the 20 members of the choir who always seem as committed to a Voces Novae mission as is their leader. They sing with passion, making a listener feel as if nothing is more important during the concert’s hour than that concert. The vibes created were exhilarating, and they gathered momentum as the music unfolded."
Whaddya Know? A Musical Exploration of the Ignorance Map
Herald Times review: "All the musical items selected were meant to support the intriguing conceit that we can too easily fall victims to self-imposed barriers and externally induced societal stumbling blocks Swaney identified through labels: Unknown Knowns and Known Unknowns, Denials and Taboos, Unknown Unknowns and Errors...Swaney chose the music widely and wisely...What pleased me most was the flow of music and the impressively high quality of the singing."
Decadence and Disaster
Response cards: "Beautiful, Powerful, Emotional" "Amazing"
"Fantastic! Congratulations!" "Wonderful from first to last" "That was a religious experience!
Thank you for giving us reason to hope in desperate times."
By the Rivers of Babylon
Herald Times review: :Leave it to Susan Swaney. The artistic director of Voces Novae knows how to fashion provocative themes for her choir's programs...The music, all of it was carefully prepared and entrancingly and passionately sung.
The Proper Resolution of Dissonance
Herald Times review: A program of music by Voces Novae almost always means adding something else to the music chosen, something related, something that adds a dimension of meaning...Swaney had her choristers singing with fervor an weave of exquisite sound.
The Grand Tour (IU Art Museum)
Indiana Daily Student: "...all of the seats were full; in fact, there were not enough. People lined up against the walls and stood on the stairs leading up to the second floor atrium to listen to the opening concert. 'I thought I would just drop in for a concert, but it turned out to be a much bigger event,' said Bloomington resident Charlotte Zietlow. Zietlow's main motive for coming was the opening concert by local chamber choir Voces Novae. 'I saw them do a concert a year ago, and it was fantastic,' Zietlow said...."
Recycling/Transformation (Habitat for Humanity ReStore warehouse)
Herald-Times page 1: "A choral concert in the corner of a warehouse once used by a Honda dealership epitomized recycling Sunday evening when Voces Novae, a local chamber choir, presented a Mother's Day program titled 'Recycling/Transformation.' Add to the voices a duo of virtuoso percussionists...who tapped and beat on wine bottles, empty paint cans, duct work, and an industrial-sized toilet tissue dispenser, and the message was clear: Anything can be reused."
Peter Jacobi review in The Herald-Times: "Two results are givens whenever artistic director Sue Swaney presents her sweet-voiced, 20-member chamber choir, Voces Novae, in concert: the singing will be delightful and the program content will intrigue. The ensemble's Sunday evening concert proved no exception. It caressed the ears. It stimulated mind and heart. And what's more, the event took place in a most unusual environment, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore."
Eugene V. Debs: An Indiana Original (Bloomington Old Woolery Stone Mill and Terre Haute Scottish Rite Hippodrome Theater)
"What an artistic and dramatic success, in addition to an inspiring life and a well-written script the perfection of timing - of oral, vocal, instrumentation, and audience participation and choice of music was absolutely brilliant. A creative triumph - what a thrilling experience." -Response card
"I was utterly moved. I hope you're going to make a CD." -Response card
"Absolutely marvelous - bless and thank you - people like you are what make Bloomington unique and GREAT!" -Response card
"Eugene Debs concert: Really great selection of music and great expression! Dramatic readings inspiring and moving; Woolery Mill - neat ambience; orchestra - rousing. It was a wonderful and exciting experience. Thank you so much!!!" -Response card
"Amazing and moving and so relevant! What a wonderful evening!" -Response card
"This kind of 'happening' is what the world needs more of. We are so hooked into the TV and the internet, that so many lose their sense of community, values and the role of art in the midst of all this craziness. I was very moved. What a brilliant evening!" - Email response
"What an amazing venue and evening for the Debs event! The proof was in the very long standing ovation." -Response card
Progress and Perfectibility
Audience response card: "Wonderful! Mind blowing! Stimulating! Loved it!" Herald Times review: "The intriguing program contained factoids of history, dollops of philosophy, quoted social commentary, comedic changes of pace and, of course, generous samplings of music.... All along the way, one heard lovely singing. Particularly effective were songs of joy by Palestrina and Monteverdi, celebrating springtime and love. Readings of Debussy's Chanson No. 1 and the 'Dona Nobis Pacem after Arvo Part' by Bloomington composer Cary Boyce were lifted to a rhapsodic level. Verdi's 'Ave Maria on an Enigmatic Scale,' with its bracing seesaw of discords and concords, gained a breathtaking level of rapture."
New Harmony: A Tale of Two Utopias
Audience response cards: "Breathtakingly beautiful." "The artistic conception and its rendering were outstanding - one of the most thrillingly beautiful performances yet from a musical ensemble that never disappoints." "A superb performance! Very well balanced and executed with precision. I very much enjoyed the music and readings as well as the visual effects."
Ethics and the Arts
An audience member sent an email the next day, saying, "I think this is the most moving and thought-provoking concert/performance/artpiece I've attended in years! I felt actively engaged as an audience member.... It's got me thinking in new ways about the 'purpose' of performance.... By the time we arrived at the Britten [Cantata misericordium], it was not possible for me to experience the piece in the same way that I would have had it been part of a 'standard' choral performance.
Audience response: "You should make this an annual event!"
Bloomington Early Music Festival Performances
Peter Jacobi review: "The Bach came from Bloomington's Voces Novae, singing with assurance and beauty under director Susan Swaney.... To be regaled by such loveliness was to be blessedly enriched." (Cantata 106) "The whole of the performance had a spirited feel, with a lift appropriate for music designed to honor Bach's beloved and always devotedly served God." (Mass in A)
Dona Nobis Pacem (IU Art Museum)
Peter Jacobi review: "It was a stunning affair, both vocally and verbally.... The richness of offerings during this 50-minute package was remarkable, with each element aptly fitting into the whole.... The singing was beautiful, distilled and distinct all the way."