Northwest News

New director boosts Magpies' reputation for diversity

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The theme for the Magpie Consort's spring concerts is Reflection and Rejoicing.

It's apt, given that over the past year the group lost its artistic director, followed by some collective soul-searching and a successful quest for a replacement.

Previous director Sheena Phillips had refined and helped define the singing ensemble over the past decade since assuming the mantle of leadership of the group she initially joined as a singer. The Magpies, as the members refer to themselves, met for the first time in the dining room of David and Karen Carpenter's Clintonville home in February 1998.

"We were very informal prior to Sheena stepping up," member Brian Franz told ThisWeek. "She really grew the group.

"When she left, everybody really stepped up and worked to sort of clarify our vision. We decided to continue and find a new director."

That search resulted in the addition of Jon Peterson, who moved from Little Rock, Ark., last fall to accept a position at Bluffton University's Department of Music.

"We were excited to see our little singing society attracted such talent," member Ed Crockett said.

Peterson said he was looking for two things when he inquired about the position with Magpie Consort: first, an opportunity to work with music he might not get to with his students; and second, a connection to a larger city.

"I knew the ensemble really valued early music, which is a passion of mine," Peterson said, "and that their repertoire also grew to include multicultural music. It's a real eclectic repertoire.

"But what really excited me was the group's commitment to continue taking our music-making to the proverbial next level."

Reflections and Rejoicing will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at St. Leo Catholic Church near German Village and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20, at North Congregational UCC on Henderson Road.

The program is diverse in Magpie tradition, including traditional Western art music as well as a spiritual and pieces from Brazil, Iraq and South Africa.

"I really enjoy programming music," Peterson said. "I like taking diverse music and relating it to a central topic. This is a wonderful variety of music and fitting it all together has been fun."

Visit ThisWeekNEWS. com to see video featuring the Magpie Consort.

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