“What is immediately noticeable about Rogue World Ensemble from one concert to the next is how each individual singer has gained confidence and increased musicianship. They are moving forward and creating something more impressive and professional each time they perform, both synergistically and individually.”–Katie Sloan, Community Development Director at Siskiyou School.
Membership and Auditions
The Rogue World Ensemble is an SATB choir with a membership of about 40 voices. We prefer to keep our numbers relatively small to promote a more intimate learning atmosphere. However, we welcome new members as needed to maintain the balance between the vocal sections.
New members are admitted by audition, primarily in Aug/Sept and Jan/Feb . Men are admitted on a rolling basis. When there is not a current opening in a particular vocal section, a waiting list will be created.
To audition, email Director Val Rogers, [email protected] to set up an appointment. Be prepared to sing a song you know well, without accompaniment. We’ll also explore your vocal range, sense of rhythm, tonal memory, and movement skills.
Membership dues are $100 per concert season (biannually). Scholarships are available for those in need.
Skills and Requirements
RWE singers come from a variety of musical backgrounds: some with classical Western choral experience, some with specialized knowledge of a particular region or style of folk singing, and some with no formal training. Since we perform music from a wide range of cultural origins, each with its own singing style, it’s a safe bet that something will be new for everyone.
Complex harmonies, unconventional time signatures, and a number of foreign languages can challenge the Western ear. We also incorporate basic folk dance steps into some of our songs. The best skills to bring are good intonation and rhythm, a spirit of collaboration, a sense of adventure, and above all, a passion for learning.
Music reading can be helpful but is not a required skill. Folk music is an oral, not a written tradition, and there is no authoritative text for most of our songs. Typically we will have a written arrangement to refer to, but it may become adapted for the group.
Many RWE singers learn by ear in the traditional way, with the help of modern technology such as recorders and MP3 files posted on our member site. On stage we perform without sheet music, so the repertoire must ultimately be memorized either way.
Rehearsals and Commitments
The Rogue World Ensemble places high value on the ageless folk tradition of singing as an act of community bonding and enjoyment. Unlike most village choirs, however, we are also a performance group in pursuit of artistic standards and goals. Rehearsals are fun and relaxed but must also maintain a level of focus in order to learn the sometimes challenging material.
Because there is often a learning curve for new members as they become acquainted with the various foreign languages and vocal styles, new members may opt out of performing some songs in their first session with the group.
Rehearsals are weekly from 6:15 – 8:30 pm on Tuesday nights in Ashland. Near to concert dates, extra rehearsals or sectionals may be required.
Throughout the year, RWE sponsors educational workshops led by folk music specialists to help singers go more deeply into aspects of world folk singing and dancing. Some of these workshops are open to the public and some are private tutorials for the group.
While workshops that take place outside of rehearsals are not required for RWE singers, they are highly encouraged. Workshops are often free for RWE members.
In addition to these local workshops, the organization Village Harmony, Inc., hosts folk music camps all over the world. These camps offer singers an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best teachers in the field while experiencing other cultures. RWE can offer scholarship assistance to members who attend these camps and bring their enhanced skills and knowledge back to the Ensemble.