By Shannon Genereau

The 2017-2018 Page Series concludes with an “Off the Page” performance by The Rose Ensemble Sunday, March 18 at 3 p.m at the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels (1155 W. Wabasha Street).

The ensemble will present their newest program, “Welcome the Stranger: The Promise of Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica.” The program consists of medieval and Renaissance music, researched and created by Artistic Director Jordan Sramek. It features over five centuries of music exploring Saint Benedict’s rule of unconditional hospitality.

The Ensemble’s founder and artistic director, Sramek, formed the group after a great deal of travel early in his life inspired his curiosity in “the language and music of cultures.” As Sramek says, what sets the Rose Ensemble apart from other groups “are the ways it unites scholarship and artistry in its programming.”

With 22 seasons under his belt, Sramek’s programs have come to reflect the values of the Ensemble while also bringing a unique musical experience to the stage each time. “Each program is grounded in original research undertaken in libraries, archives, and communities around the world, bringing to the concert stage music that has often laid silent for centuries.” Therefore, each show is a new experience for the audience while still maintaining the scholarship and artistic qualities that have made The Rose Ensemble into the group it is today.   

Among those performing in the Ensemble is Alyssa Anderson. She has been a part of the group since 2015, so this is her third season with the Rose Ensemble. As a member of the Ensemble, Anderson sings mezzo-soprano.

With 20 years of experience, Anderson has a great deal of knowledge when it comes to her understanding of singing. That knowledge continues to grow in her time as a member of The Rose Ensemble. “I had a lot of experience with chamber music and being a soloist, so this was different and new when I started with The Rose Ensemble.”  

“We have a wide variety of programs. We have done American, Hawaiian, German, British, Three Fates, Arabic, and Latino programs, just to name a few” she said, mentioning that “every program is different musically and culturally.”

One benefit of such a diverse repertoire of programs is the continuous exposure to new music. “Before I was a part of The Rose Ensemble, I didn’t work with much early music. I was using more contemporary and new music. Once I started working with The Rose Ensemble, I was able to be more flexible with using my voice and trusting  it as an instrument.” Now, Anderson has found “new sounds” and feels herself to be “a balanced singer.”

However, as is true with any performance group, there are challenges. “Our schedule can be really unusual,” Anderson said, with weekly changes that keep the group on the road. “Long stretches away from home are hard,” but it’s worth it. “Traveling with the group is fun.”

Their program this year promises to be a new, unique experience for viewers. “This program has some really interesting music. Some of the music has not been heard in hundreds of years, and some of it is music written by nuns for other nuns to sing.” As Anderson sees it, “this is going to be a good show, with really good music in this program.”

For Sramek, “it has never been just about the music.” Rather, “the complex role that music plays in our communal and individual lives–the ways it gives voice to human longings and disappointments, challenges social systems, or gives expression to life’s transitions–is that which, through The Rose Ensemble’s programming, music acts as a thread that supports the narrative of our lives.”

Not only is the music of The Rose Ensemble a thread bringing together the lives of the audience members and the Ensemble, but, as Sramek says, its “vision to create beauty–which can be observed, admired, and internalized–is made manifest by providing musical balm for a hurting world.”

Tickets for the performance are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. For more information and to order, click here or call the Performance Center Box Office at 507-457-1715 (12-6 pm, weekdays).