Star Island Bios 2015
Star Island Harmony Leaders
Emily Miller has been teaching harmony singing to choirs, small groups and choirs for 15 years. She grew up singing American old-time and country music with her family and, from the age of 12, learning choral music from around the world with Village Harmony. She now performs with several groups, including country band The Sweetback Sisters, a cappella vocal ensemble The Starry Mountain Singers, and as an old-time duo with her husband, Jesse Milnes. She regularly leads singing workshops on how to sing in close harmony, as well as teaching her compositions and arrangements of traditional American songs to university and community choirs around the country. When she’s home, Emily serves as musical director of the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble, a college performance group focused on string band music from Appalachia. She lives in Valley Bend, West Virginia.
Mary Cay Brass has led harmony singing at the Vermont-based Village Harmony camps for teens an adults for 20 years. She is a specialist in music from the former Yugoslavia where she studied on a Fulbright and has created and led Village Harmony camps in Bosnia and Macedonia. Mary Cay leads three community choirs: The River Singers in Westminster West, Vermont, and Greenfield Harmony in Greenfield Massachusetts; both SATB intergenrational choruses of 80 – 90 singers, and the Upper Valley Community Choir in Norwich, Vermont – all exploring the vocal music cultures of community-based world tradiiotns: the Balkans, the Republic of Georgia, Africa, the British Isles, France and American folk traditions such as shape note, Appalachian and African-American gospel. Mary Cay is a founding member and co-music director of Hallowell, Vermont’s first a cappella SATB hospice singing group.
Peter and Mary Alice Amidon have been a mainstay of choral singing at major traditional music festivals, choral singing weekends and summer traditional music and dance camps for the last twenty-five years. Peter is a co-choir director and Mary Alice a member of the Guilford (VT) Community Church UCC. Mary Alice is a member of, and Peter is a founder and co-music director of Hallowell, an a cappella SATB hospice choir which has inspired, and helped form, over forty other a cappella SATB hospice choirs throughout the United States. The Amidons’ choral arrangements and compositions, which they have published in their two collections “Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir” and “Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith and Community Choirs“, many of which can be heard on their website – www.amidonmusic.com – are being sung by choirs throughout the United States and the UK. Hundreds of people each year purchase Amidon choral arrangements and compositions from the Amidons’ Online Choral Store.