Gallery at 5 Riverside Towers featuring art from Williams collection

By Ralph Hall

Galleries of art are very special places! Art is arranged to educate, to please, to entertain, to sell, and to expand our thinking, our appreciation, and our worlds. With each visit to a gallery, we find a new catalyst. Imagine what it must be like to have a gallery in the building where you live. Each time you choose to look at the art as you walk through the lobby, you may be altered in wonderful new ways. The residents of 5 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, have that possibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Take five with Bruce Borton and the Madrigal Choir

EDITOR’S NOTE: After a months-long search for the perfect replacement for retiring founder and longtime director Anne Boyer Cotton, The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton — and its audience – last spring chose Bruce Borton, who is also the director of choral activities at Binghamton University. As the choir readies for the debut of the Borton era this weekend, we offer this quick “take five” interview, which author and choir member Therese Walsh had with Borton, focusing on the choir’s immediate and long-term future. Read the rest of this entry »

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Precedent and prospect: A singer’s insight into Madrigal Choir’s new artistic director

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Frequent BAMirror reviewer and contributor David Schriber, who offers the following predictions for the Bruce Borton era of The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton, sings with the choir and is on its board of directors. He also served on the search committee that recommended Borton to be the choir’s new artistic director.

By David L. Schriber

With the naming of a new artistic director, The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton begins a new era. How will Brue Borton put his own mark on Anne Boyer Cotten’s musical legacy to Greater Binghamton? What can the choir and its audience expect?

I have a good idea, for I have sung with Bruce Borton’s University Chorus for more than 20 years. It took me just one semester to realize I had by serendipity stumbled across the finest choral conductor in the area. Since that time, and especially more recently as I prepared to retire and joined several other choruses and have sung under several other conductors, nothing has changed that assessment. For many years I thought Borton was one of the best-kept musical secrets in Broome County, until the Broome County Arts Council awarded him a Heart of the Arts Award in 2008 for his contributions to music in our community.

Before coming to Binghamton, Borton was a member of and conducting assistant with the late Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony Chorus. One of Borton’s treasured possessions is the autographed poster that hangs in his office. Much of the wisdom of “Mister Shaw,” as Borton refers to him with reverence, lives on in this unpretentious man from Illinois. One thing Madrigal Choir singers will certainly learn from Borton is Shaw’s theory and philosophy of choral blending. Yes, I know, Bruce; Shaw never liked the term “blend,” but that’s what the rest of us call it. It’s all about how you shape your mouth and throat and where you place the sound in the resonating cavity. A lifelong learner, Borton continues regular attendance at conferences of the American Choral Directors Association.

Borton’s warm-up exercises are more than stretching the vocal chords to avoid voice strain. Besides tonal quality, they teach pitch control, accurate intervals, and rhythm. Borton is one of those people who can beat 3/4 time on one knee while beating 4/4 time on the other. His well-equipped toolbag of warm-up and rehearsal techniques, tips, and tricks has had its own ripple effect upon the dozen or so music teachers who sing at any given time in University Chorus, including our daughter’s high school chorus teacher at the time.

A vast command of repertoire across all periods and genres enables Borton to offer creative and entertaining programming, such as his guest concert with The Madrigal Choir in October 2009 with music from five centuries, all based on texts of William Shakespeare, and featuring collaboration with guest instrumentalists and actors.

Borton always prefers performing a piece in its original language (with full text translated to English in the concert program for comprehension). This will be a good fit for The Madrigal Choir, among whose members are many foreign language skills. It should also be appreciated in our community, which treasures its many ethnic traditions.

It’s likely that Borton, who directs BU’s own biennial Madrigal Feaste, will continue Anne Boyer Cotten’s unique traditions such as the biennial costumed Ceremony and Celebration for Twelfth Night. Borton will remember and respect where this choir has come from, even as he brings fresh and new ideas of his own. He has made singing an important part of my life and a source of enjoyment and satisfaction, of celebration and even consolation. His personable style will give cohesive leadership that will knit The Madrigal Choir even tighter together. He will bring constructive challenges to stretch singers and audience alike in a manner that is pleasing and widening of horizons.

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Madrigal Choir of Binghamton announces new artistic director

Bruce Borton

The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton, the select chamber choral ensemble  founded by Anne Boyer Cotten in 1978, has announced the selection of  Dr. Bruce Borton as the next artistic director. Chosen after a 20-month search process, Borton brings a great deal of experience to the podium. He’s Director of Choral activities at Binghamton University, where he’s taught since 1988. For 10 years prior to that, he was conducting assistant to the legendary Robert Shaw with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.  (BAM Note – In 2008, Borton was honored with a Heart of the Arts Award by the Broome County Arts Council.) No stranger to the Madrigal Choir, Borton has sung with the group, led the singers as a guest conductor and has served on the board of directors. (BAM note: Borton won a BCAC Heart of the Arts Award in
Cotten didn’t set out to lead a choir for 33 years. She and some friends just gathered around her dining room table to sing music they liked. After a while, they were saying, “Hey, we’re pretty good; we should perform!” Under Cotten’s leadership, the choir has premiered a new work by Alice Parker, commissioned and premiered a new piece by British composer Barry Seaman and performed more than 200 concerts in the Greater Binghamton area and beyond, including Cotten’s signature concert, “Ceremony and Celebration for Twelfth Night.” With her retirement from Broome Community College’s Department of Fine and Media Arts, she is moving to Arizona to be closer to family.
Planning is underway for the 2011-2012 season, which should be announced by August. More information about the ensemble may be found at

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A fine and fitting farewell for Madrigal Choir’s founder

Anne Boyer Cotten never dreamed, when she invited a few friends to sing a cappella music in her dining room in 1978, that the gathering would evolve into one of the most recognized and respected choral groups in this community. 

More than three decades later, when she announced to the board of directors of the Madrigal Choir of Binghamton her intention to retire from the organization she birthed, she made it clear she wanted her last concert to be Lessons and Carols for Christmas, which is her favorite. It’s also a favorite with the public, causing this concert to be expanded some years ago into two performances on the weekend beginning Advent.

And so it was that a comfortably full house of 200 on Saturday (Nov. 27) and an overflow house of 400 on Sunday (Nov 28) gathered at the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity in Binghamton for what would be Cotten’s  farewell concerts. Read the rest of this entry »

Alice Parker teaches heart and soul of folksong

The name Alice Parker is recognized by any experienced community chorus or church choir singer. A student of choral conducting, she was for nearly 20 years the music arranger for the Robert Shaw Chorale. Our area was treated with the rare gift this past weekend of a visit by Parker, thanks to a winning bid for her services by The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton’s director, Anne Boyer Cotten, at a Chorus America convention silent auction. Nearly 250 people attended Parker’s Community Sing Saturday (Oct. 16) at First Presbyterian Church in Binghamton, a fund-raiser for The Madrigal Choir. At the choir’s concert Sunday (Oct. 17) at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Binghamton, she conducted a half dozen of her own arrangements.

What did one learn listening to Alice Parker speak about folksongs and folk hymns? Read the rest of this entry »

Build your art collection and help an arts organization

Want to build an art collection but not sure where to start? Here are a couple of opportunities to obtain reasonably priced pieces from artists’ own collections. And, in both cases, your purchase will be helping a worthy Broome County Arts Council member: Read the rest of this entry »

Conductors comment on collaboration

Sunday’s presentation of Karl Jenkins’ “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” will mark the culmination of a season of collaborations for the Binghamton Community Orchestra and perhaps the most complex pairing of the year for The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton. Read the rest of this entry »

Madrigal Choir “Lessons and Carols” is more than a concert

The Madrigal Choir of Binghamton just offered its 32d season of  “Lessons and Carols for Christmas.” This is both a concert and a worship service, the sacred and secular readings and classical and contemporary anthems and familiar Christmas carols recounting the story of the coming of Messiah.

Sitting in the choir looking out over the audience, one can see family, friends and neighbors. Some have come for the enjoyment of the music, others as an act of seasonal devotion, from within this parish or some other across town. For still others, this is the closest they will ever come to being churchgoers. For all these groups, and particularly the last described, Artistic Director Anne Boyer Cotten says it’s not just about how well we sing the music but about how well we tell the story.

For a singer’s perspective, click on “read the rest of the story.” Read the rest of this entry »

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