Vox Americana

What in American music makes it American? Austin choral ensemble Conspirare has just been awarded $75,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts to explore that very question. The federal arts agency has embarked on a major new project, the American Masterpieces: Choral Music, which supports the presentation of regional festivals focused on American music, and Conspirare is one of only seven choruses in the country to receive a grant as part of this initiative. With its $75K, Conspirare will host a festival the week of Jan. 20-28, 2007, that will cover musical styles and influences from folk songs to spirituals to jazz to hymnody (including Shaker and Southern Harmony traditions), with attention given to the contributions of American poets and to urban influences as expressed by composer Steve Reich in his work. Joining Conspirare will be seven diverse choruses from across the state, including high school, college, children's, gospel, and community choirs, plus a number of notable specialists in the field of choral music: Joseph Jennings of the choral ensemble Chanticleer, Mark Shapiro of Cantori New York, conductor Weston Noble, children's choir specialist Henry Leck, and composers Rob Kapilow and Stephen Paulus, among others. In addition to workshops and master classes, two works have been commissioned for the festival and will premiere during it. For more information, visit

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