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Green Bay rises with Nightingale and young talent

Jacob Choroszy , Entertainment Writer
May 6, 2014
Filed under Entertainment

Hitting a note at Green Bay Botanical Garden on May 3 was “Spirit of the Garden” by Rose and the Nightingale, a group of four women with musical talents.

Members include Jody Redhage, who contributes vocals and plays cello. Leala Cyr, a Wisconsin native who contributes vocals and plays trumpet. Sara Caswell, who plays violin and mandolin. Laila Biali, who contributes vocals and plays piano.

Together, the four of them have been touring the country promoting their current album, a musical mix between jazz, folk, world and chamber music.

The group also performed in the University Union April 29 and at the Weidner Center for the Perfomring Arts May 1.

The performance at the Botanical Garden was titled “Poetry Takes Flight Through Song.” Rose and the Nightingale and students from Wisconsin International School (WIS) performed the special songwriting concert about poems about gardens.

“The ladies themselves are very talented,” said Manar Alshahrouri, a father to one of the fifth graders who also performed. “I really enjoyed their music.”

Their album consists of songs inspired by botanic gardens throughout the world. The songs were either written by the band or were poems about gardens written by a collection of poets.

The band applied for a grant two years ago through the chamber music program and worked with WIS to be able to come to Green Bay and perform. All they needed was a venue to hold the concert and one to inspire the music for the concert. Green Bay’s Botanical Garden was happy to help.

“It was really nice to see so many individuals from our community coming together here at the Botanical Garden to put on a concert for the public,” said Eileen Wesener, the special events manager at the Botanical Garden.

The Saturday before the concert, Rose and the Nightingale took students from kindergarten to eighth grade who attend WIS to the Botanical Gardens.

“My favorite part was being able to just hang out with the kids all day,” Cyr said. “It didn’t matter how small they were. They were so creative and inspiring to us. You forget how smart little kids are.”

Each grade then wrote a haiku about what they saw and felt as they walked through the gardens. Then during the week, Rose and the Nightingale would go to the school and teach the students how to write their poems into songs.

After Rose and the Nightingale performed a few of their songs, each grade got up and sang the songs they wrote while the band played the music.

The kindergarteners sang a song they titled “Spring is Beautiful.” The children also had choreographed sequences that went with the lyrics of the song.

“I liked it when we got to spring up,” said Royce Lin, one of the kindergarteners who performed.

At the end of their song, the kindergartners held up the large music sheet they wrote to the crowd. Redhage suggested that each sheet be hung in the respective class rooms for each grade.

One of the kindergartners was about to take it when Redhage jumped in and said, “We should have a parent take it.”

It got a large laugh from the audience and quickly became the rule that only parents who volunteered will take the music sheets home.

The second and third graders went together to perform their song “Signs of Spring.” They were the first group that learned the difference between major and minor notes and how to incorporate them into their song.

The fourth grade’s song, “The Blooming Season,” had multiple verses and each one was a different haiku. The fifth graders were the first grade to go that had students play instruments along with Rose and the Nightingale.

The sixth, seventh and eighth graders had everyone play a musical instrument for their songs.

Rose and the Nightingale then finished the concert with a few more of their songs from the “Spirit of the Garden.”

When the show was over, parents and students were able to meet the band, get autographs and walk through the Botanical Gardens.

“Schools have been cutting out the arts program and this concert was a reason why it shouldn’t be,” said Glenda Enderson, a Green Bay resident who came to see her grandchildren. “The concert was absolutely beautiful.”

For more information about Rose and the Nightingale, visit roseandthenightingale.com. For more information on the Green Bay Botanical Garden, visit gbbg.org.