Featured image of article: Keene State Professor Rehearses Samoan, Maori Songs

Keene State Professor Rehearses Samoan, Maori Songs

On Thursday, February 22nd, Chamber Choir members participated in a workshop with Dr. Matthew Leese on traditional Samoan and Maori songs. Our Chamber choir is studying three choral pieces from Polynesia — the Hawaiian song “Aloha Oe”, the Samoan song “Minoi, Minoi,” and a Maori setting of Ave Maria titled “Ka Waiata ki a Maria.”

Dr. Leese coached the singers through the pronunciation of “Minoi, Minoi,” demonstrated traditional Samoan dance moves like the “siva,” and taught students an arrangement of “Ka Waiata Ki a Maria” combining oral and written traditions.  He shared important background and historical context for these pieces and included some of his own personal experiences growing up in New Zealand and attending schools with many Maori and Samoan people.

Dr. Matthew W. Leese is a conductor, baritone, stage director and educator based in Keene, New Hampshire. Leese received his Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Otago, Graduate Diploma in Historical Performance from the Longy School of Music, Masters in Early Music from Indiana University and Doctorate in Choral Conducting and Literature from the University of Illinois.

Recent noted projects have included directing and conducting Hans Krasa’s ‘Brundibar’ for the Redfern Arts Center Voices of Terezin series, Benjamin Britten’s ‘The Little Sweep’ with Keene State Opera and the Colonial Theatre, Voices of the Bay in New Brunswick, period performances of Bach’s ‘Johannespassion’ with Monadnock Chorus, and designing a Ewing Arts Award-winning season with the Chamber Singers of Keene. Additional regular conducting responsibilities include directing the Keene State College Vocal Consort and Concert Choir, the St Andrews Spring Sing in New Brunswick, and serving as artist in residence with the Boston City Singers.