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Meet the Adams Avenue Camerata

September 16, 2010

Monday evenings around 6:15 p.m., if you happen to be passing by the Woodruff Fontaine House on Adams Avenue, you might hear voices rising up from the basement.

It’s no ghost.

The voices belong to the gentlemen of the Adams Avenue Camerata, a men’s ensemble that’s just a little more than a year old. I had the chance to sit down with them Monday night before their regular rehearsal.

For each member, during the day the title of tenor or baritone becomes secondary to titles like marketing manager, elementary school teacher or nurse practitioner at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. While many of them have experience singing in church choirs, most hadn’t sung in an ensemble in years. When asked about how they became involved with the group, many of them tell a similar story – “I ran into Matthew and he talked me into coming to a rehearsal.”

That Matthew is Matthew Bowlin, the director of the group and a founding member. He says humor and laughter are a key part of rehearsals for the Adams Ave. Camerata, and sitting around a table with them Monday night, it was apparent.

Matthew says the group initially began with every intention of involving women as well as men, but for some reason the ladies just didn’t stick with it. By September of last year, the group had evolved into an all-male ensemble. Since its first concert was at St. Peter’s Church on Adams Avenue, they decided to call themselves the Adams Avenue Camerata.

Member and AAC Board President Rob Day said that Camerata was chosen because of its historical context – the term “Camerata” originated in late 16th century Italy, to describe a small group of men who were of varying backgrounds who gathered together to revive music and the arts. Rob added that they also used to form in club rooms just like the one AAC rehearses in now.

The group’s relationship with the Woodruff Fontaine house began last spring, when they performed at an Easter event and had an audience of children in rapt attention. The staff at the historic carriage house wanted to get the ensemble in-house to be a part of its constant efforts to breathe new life into Victorian Village. Their missions seemed to fit perfectly, and so the guys moved in for rehearsals.

As they prepare for their third concert, the group is still growing, new faces getting to know old. You can find out more about the AAC and learn about upcoming performances by following them on Facebook.

As we were wrapping up our time together Monday evening, Matthew said, “We’re not a gay men’s chorus, we’re not a straight chorus. We are a Camerata.”

A newer member to the group, Greg, piped up. “The only orientation that matters is that you’re oriented toward music.”

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