Many lovers of classical music first hear it via their parents or other family members while growing up. They can't remember a time when it was not present in their life. Others, however, can point to a specific memory of when classical music entered their life. Scott Sandersfeld fits into the latter camp.
"For me, it was on MPR when I was 12 years old, and I still remember it as though it were yesterday. I was in the car and heard the King's Singers performing Stravinsky's Ave Maria. It was a really revelatory and liberating experience," he says. This experience started him on a path that led him to being an active part of the choral music scene in the Twin Cities and, three years ago, inspired him to take a more creative role in the scene.
The group he founded, the Mirandola Ensemble, is "dedicated to promoting the highest standards of choral music, the idea of choral music as 'high art' in the Western tradition, and the aesthetics of the Renaissance." They will be among Classical MPR's Class Notes Artists for the 2014-2015 school year, and Sandersfeld hopes that, with this opportunity, they can help create the kind of moment he had with that King's Singers recording when he was young.
Besides Sandersfeld, who sings bass and serves as artistic director, the group's members include Angela Grundstad, soprano, Nick Chalmers, alto, and Andrew Kane, tenor. He believes that each of his fellow members have valuable experience in working with children and music. He also says that "young children are almost the ideal participating audience for what we do. They simply have no stake in pretending to like it or not. The honesty of the response is something we enjoy."
These unbiased reactions he hopes to elicit from young audiences fit with his own motivations for founding the Mirandola Ensemble. Before the group was a reality, Sandersfeld remembers impassioned discussions with friends and colleagues about "the kinds of things we'd like to see emphasized, the kind of singing and repertoire, the general approach, and the culture we wanted to promote" in the vibrant and well-established choral community here in Minnesota. With the start of the group's new role as Class Notes Artists, he's excited to share this vision with a new generation of listeners.
This hands-on approach will go a long way in showing school-age listeners what it means to enjoy classical music. It's no secret that music has mysterious and transformative powers, and the Mirandola Ensemble, knows this as well as anyone. They believe that "choral music should be not only entertaining and fun, but also enlightening and even moral. It has the ability not only to amuse us, but to make our lives better." As Class Notes Artists, they now have the opportunity to spread this message with those who may need it most.
David Lindquist is a writer, teacher, and singer living in St. Paul.
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