Of Hope and Harmony: Benefit for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

•May 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

House of Clouds held the second Benefit Concert in New Haven, Connecticut in February 2011. The concert featured singers from Yale University and community members from the Greater New Haven Area. The program featured the Faure Requiem, Chichester Psalms and the east coast premiere of Colin Britt’s House of Clouds. In the glorious space of Christ Church (84 Broadway) , the 45 member chorus and 22 member orchestra gathered to remember those who have died from, are suffering from and who have conquered Pancreatic Cancer. Guest speaker, Krystal Angell, of the Connecticut affiliate of PanCAN spoke about the disease and informed our audience just how deadly this cancer is. We thank her for her wonderful words and for sharing with us on this day.

The concert was a huge success and we raised about $3,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

To read more about our event, please visit New haven Register article that includes a video from our rehearsals.New Haven Register Article

To listen to an excerpt from our concert, visit this video:

Special thanks to the chorus, orchestra, and Christ Church for lending their gifts. A roster of participants will be posted soon.

In memory of Papa Ben Guingona, who died from Pancreatic Cancer in March 2010.Thank you for being a great teacher and inspiration in my life. -Arianne Abela


GLORIA! East Oakland School of the Arts Concert July 2010

•September 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Start of a Legacy:  Keeping Music in the Lives of our Children

On July 23, 2010 Debi Wong, Arianne Abela and Colin Britt collaborated with Yale Alum Joe Gregorio and volunteer musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area (from Berkeley, Davis, San Francisco, all the way to Santa Clara) to help the East Oakland School of the Arts keep their music program alive. Head of the school, Matin Abdel-qawi wrote the following for our concert program:

East Oakland School of the Arts (EOSA) is a small public high school dedicated to creating an environment that supports the academic and artistic potential of each student. EOSA formed six years ago in 2004 when Castlemont High School closed and three small schools opened on the former Castlemont campus. By offering its diverse 9th – 12th-graders a fully arts-integrated education, EOSA has a dual mission: to provide a comprehensive academic college preparatory program as well as pre-professional arts training.We boast a creative curriculum, a skilled and dedicated teaching staff, and a safe learning environment for our 300 students. Through rigorous, conservatory-style training in the visual and performing arts, every student at EOSA will develop a lifelong appreciation for the value of music, art, and dance, preparing them for the next level in the arts, be it university, apprenticeship, or professional experience. Our mission to provide high quality arts education to our students has been severely impacted by the reduction in funding for education. 100% of the proceeds from this event will go towards supporting EOSA’s instrumental program in securing instruments, sheet music and band equipment for our talented students.

Joseph Gregorio, composer, Matin Abdel-qawi,Principal of EOSA, Arianne Abela, conductor, Colin Britt, Composer, Debi Wong, Mezzo-Soprano

The concert program consisted of In Paradisum by Ernst Krenek for women, song cycle “Five Whitman Songs” by local composer  and Yale Alum Joe Gregorio, the Vivaldi “Gloria” for orchestra and choir, and a world premiere of “The House of Clouds” by composer and conductor Colin Britt. Britt based his work on a poem by 19th century author Elizabeth Barret Browning. Britt says:

When Arianne asked me to write a piece, I was deciding between two texts (both by Elizabeth Barett Browning; the other was “De Profundis.”) I happened to be on an airplane, and while going back and forth between the two texts, I looked out the window and saw the clouds, as they appear in the photo. Aside from being awestruck at the beauty and mystery of these clouds, I took it as “a sign” that this was the text I was supposed to set. (see photo on the home page of website)

As is any world premiere, the piece was difficult to tackle at first, but the choir truly worked to learn the music in only seven rehearsals. Here is a recording from the performance:

To listen to In Paradisum by Ernst Krenek, our opening piece for women’s choir, please visit this link:

Below: Debi Wong, MezzoSoprano sings her solemn solo in the Vivaldi Gloria:

After making many phone calls, sending emails, and hoping for a miracle, a full orchestra of local professional players volunteered their time and dedication to the cause. We had a volunteer chorus of 31 singers who came to seven rehearsals after their busy days at work. The San Francisco Conservatory of Music donated their space for our seven rehearsals and many friends and even strangers donated their time to help put this concert together. The concert was held at St. Mark’s Church in Berkeley, CA. The church was kind enough to offer us a discount for the use of the space with the help from the Sullivan Family. We have many people to thank for their generosity:

Vanessa Capino and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church,Tim and Elaine Sullivan for the poster designs and many hours helping us in rehearsals and beyond, San Francisco Conservatory of Music for the donation of their space, Tony Castro and Renee Witton for playing at rehearsals, Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, Elizabeth Ingber for hours of playing with us in rehearsal and in performance, Barbara and Alex Abela for helping to pay for the church, Crystal Springs Uplands School and Virginia Loesch for publicity help, and the San Francisco Bach Choir for the use of their stand lights.

SPECIAL THANKS TO JOSEPH GREGORIO for his passion, dedication, and his many hours of help to bring this project into fruition!

The concert raised over $2,000 dollars for the school’s instrument fund and will allow many students private lessons in voice or the instrument of their choice. We hope the future concerts can bring music into the lives of those who need it, and also help to promote our composers of the day and to support their efforts in keeping the music world alive with their creativity.

Special THANKS to all the following players and singers:

September 2010

Arianne Abela

Mass Appeal: B Minor Mass for the Love of Music

•July 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In July of 2009, a friend of mine, Brit Albritton, from Northampton spoke to me about the possibility of singing through the Bach B Minor Mass with a small group and a piano. Dinner and drinks were part of the plan, too; a casual night of music making and merry company. Soon after, the idea of having a few strings join us for fun and some continuo seemed appealing and we went ahead and asked some other musicians to join. Eventually, we had a small concert unfolding… a few more people wanted to sing, a few more players wanted to play… and we found ourselves looking at a chorus of about 50 and a full orchestra slowly building!

It was the end of June and we decided to have a full-blown concert and to donate the proceeds to a good cause. The Northampton Community Music Center was on top of the list; the music school is a small local institution that provides musical lessons and needs for children in the area. The scholarship fund had been suffering lately, causing many young children to drop out of their lessons and activities.

Musicians from New York, Yale in New Haven, CT, Boston, MA, Northampton and Amherst, MA volunteered to sing and play in this grand event, and St. Mary’s church donated their venue for our use for no charge. Steve Ledbetter of MA volunteered to give a preconcert lecture. It was a perfect sunny day in July and the music drew people from far and wide.

News coverage of the project in the Hampshire Gazette:

Mass Appeal- Hampshire Gazette

Video coverage:

The concert raised over 3,000 for the scholarship fund. This is the first of many concerts that I hope to continue to spearhead. The future will include more collaboration with Debi Wong and Colin Britt.

The Nicholas Schilbach Memorial Award

•July 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Nicholas Schilbach Memorial Award

If you’ve read the welcome page, then you’re familiar with that fateful February lunch Arianne and I had in New Haven last winter.  Not only did that conversation inspire “Gloria! A Benefit for the East Oakland School of the Arts”, but it also inspired me to contact my old high school, the Langley Fine Arts School (LFAS) in Fort Langley, BC, and create “The Nicholas Schilbach Memorial Award”.

Here is an excerpt from a letter sent to family and friends:

The idea for this particular award is inspired, by my friend Nick, and the wonderful ability he had, to create change, by simply shedding light on important issues. A wonderful example of this, is how he inspired HipHop Canada to team up with Canada’s Bone Marrow registry to create the “One Match” campaign. My hope is that this award will create change too.

I have two strong beliefs:

I truly believe that change is created through education. By providing aid for an aspiring artist to pursue his or her vocation, I hope to create change one education at a time. We have unfortunately seen several cuts to the arts in the past few years – and this is not only at home in Vancouver, or across Canada, but unfortunately across the world. I hope that this award, though small, will have a ripple effect, showing our communities, that the arts matter, and more importantly, showing aspiring artists that it is possible to follow one’s passion.

My second belief is that good art makes good people. This ties into education because I believe that the development of an artist and “good art” is a process and not something that happens overnight. It takes time, practice, and most importantly, education. This award will support someone’s artistic process, and I hope that that person will in turn share their gifts and creations and inspire others.

The Award was launched with a recital called “Song: A Benefit for the Nicholas Schilbach Memorial Award”, that featured art songs by Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Anotnin Dvorak.  The concert was a great success and with the help of some wonderful friends and talented musicians, we raised enough money to cover the scholarship for nearly five years at LFAS!

If you would like to know more about Nick, or the award, or if you would like to contribute, please visit: