BERKELEY—The Women’s Antique Vocal Ensemble (WAVE), a well-known member of the Bay Area early music scene, appointed new leaders this fall. Shira Kammen and Phoebe Jevtović Rosquist, who have often collaborated on early music ventures, now share the post of director.
WAVE was founded by Cindy Beitmen in 1999. The 18-member women’s choir maintains a busy concert schedule of medieval and Renaissance music around the Bay Area. The group has also performed for the inmates at Santa Rita Jail and in support of the restoration of California missions.
“Singing under our new directors this fall has been very exciting,” said Meryl Sacks, WAVE board president. “WAVE is enjoying their energy and new perspectives on vocal technique and musical performance, along with their deep and wide-ranging experience in the performance of early music.”
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Shira Kammen has devoted herself to exploring the worlds of early and traditional music. A long-standing member of the early music groups Ensemble Alcatraz, Project Ars Nova, and Medieval Strings, she has also worked with Sequentia; Hesperion XX; the Boston Camerata; the Balkan group Kitka; the King’s Noyse; the Newberry and Folger Consorts; and the Oregon, California, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals. She is the founder of Gallimaufry (2014), a vocal ensemble dedicated to performing secular music of the medieval and Renaissance eras. She is also the founder of Class V Music, a group that brings live music to river rafting trips. She has performed in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Morocco, Latvia, Russia, and Japan, and on the Colorado, Rogue, Green, Grande Ronde, East Carson, and Klamath Rivers. Shira is an avid music educator and has taught at many summer music workshops and coached students of early music at Yale University, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Oregon. She has also worked at specialized seminars at the Fondazione Cini in Venice, Italy, and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland.
“Working with a women’s ensemble holds its own delights,” said Kammen. “I’ve always been interested in being involved with a women’s choir such as this, and I’m honored and excited to be working with WAVE. Cindy Beitmen has been a good friend and colleague for many years, and I am honored to be able to help carry on her work and vision and to help WAVE continue to develop musically.”
Kammen is very pleased to be sharing the directorship with Phoebe Rosquist, her good friend and colleague. For many years, they have been hiking portions of the Pacific Crest Trail together. “We take Landini and sing on the trail!” Kammen said. “I feel our approaches are well balanced, and I find collaborating in this way particularly stimulating and interesting. I am learning a lot from Phoebe as well as from the singers of WAVE.”
Phoebe Jevtović Rosquist‘s singing spans a repertoire from the medieval to the contemporary, with a specialty in the Baroque era. She has appeared as a soloist with the Waverly Consort, Voices of Music, American Bach Soloists, Musica Angelica, Bach Collegium San Diego, and North Holland Opera. She has collaborated with the medieval ensemble Cançonièr and is a founding member of the Baroque ensemble La Monica. She has performed art songs with celebrated pianist Robert Thies and early music and dance with Italy’s visionary Art Monastery Project. Rosquist has also worked as a guest artist with Bologna-based Cappella Artemisia, whose rich repertoire consists of music written by and for nuns. In addition, Rosquist has toured the U.S. and Indonesia with Gamelan X (a Balinese/hybrid world music ensemble) and sung Balkan and folk music with Kitka and VOCO. Rosquist transcribed a book of 17th-century solo songs by Tarquinio Merula for A&R Editions and has recorded for the Naxos, Nonesuch, Delos, Dorian, Decca, and Sony record labels. As a choral conductor, Rosquist has served as an assistant director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, directed a Gregorian chant choir in Newport Beach, coached music for several Shakespeare plays, and directed the Art Monastery Coro in the U.S. and Italy.
“My first experience with a women’s group was at a girls’ summer camp when I was about 16,” said Rosquist. “We had our meals in a large, resonant hall, and before every meal we would sing a grace. I loved the sound and spirit of all those female voices soaring together in harmony.”
Rosquist was also an elementary school choir director for a number of years in both Oakland and Southern California. “I found those experiences so important for learning how to transmit music—a melody—to a group. You must be able to break it down into digestible quantities.”
Rosquist has been taking on ever more challenging work as a director. She is enjoying the sustained work of shaping a group that is already good and taking them to a higher level. This is the first time she has shared a directorship. “Shira and I were a tag team with WAVE at first. Although we were working so closely together, we were never directing in the same room. We met between rehearsals to discuss ideas and maintain continuity for the singers. Then in November, we worked together at the WAVE retreat. It was the first time we had observed each other directing a rehearsal, and we both loved seeing what the other does. I learned so much from Shira, and I look forward to our continued collaboration.”
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WAVE presents its annual Christmas concert on Friday, December 15, at 8:00, in Berkeley’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. “The Three Wise Ones” will feature medieval and Renaissance music following the visitors from afar whom we have come to know as the Three Kings. Tickets are $5 to $20 and are available at the door or through Brown Paper Tickets. Call 800-838-3006 for more information. For more information about WAVE, visit http://www.wavewomen.org/.