This weekend is Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale’s final concert of the 2015-2016 season and it’s going to be a don’t miss experience! Big Blue Marble opens this Friday on Earth Day and runs through the weekend. We spoke with two Chorale singers who embody the Earth Day spirit with their passion for home repurposing and sustainable fiber projects.
Carmel Groenwald is a soprano who has been with the Chorale for two years. She and her husband are dedicated upcyclers who completed an innovative renovation of their small one-bedroom condo last fall. Their goal was to make the small space work better for their busy lives, and to use as many recycled materials as possible to make it affordable, environmentally conscious, and aesthetically appealing. As the after picture shows they did a remarkable job.
There are some drawbacks to approaching a remodel this way. “It takes a longer time,” said Carmel. “The process of finding the right materials that will work for what you want is a process. You have to be actively looking all the time.”
But the rewards are worth it. Carmel and her husband repurposed ceiling beams to create doors, used pews from an old church to make shelves in their kitchen, and repurposed old lockers to make the kitchen pantry. They even found a large stump on the side of the road that they turned into their patio table.
When asked about how music corresponds with innovative repurposing old materials Carmel said, “There’s only so many notes, so many rhythms. For example, every song we’re performing this weekend is repurposed and yet I’ve never heard anything like what our performance will cover. It’s a brand new way of putting old pieces together.”
Cora Blouch, an alto who has performed with the Chorale for eleven years, is another dedicated advocate of repurposed materials and living sustainably. She is a founding member of Bewilderknits, a passionate trio of creative professional women who are on a mission to use friendly fibers to “wrap everyone in homemade, homegrown creature comforts.” Karen, a mother of two is the “wise sage Bewilderknitter.” Gwynne is “an avid road-tripper who counts boxes of yarn and fiber as essential camping supplies,” and Cora is the organized one who “keeps the other Bewidlerknitters on track at events and business meetings through lists and spreadsheets.” They sell at local farmer’s markets as well as online, but be forewarned they tend to go into hibernation from March through October.
They are dedicated to using natural fibers and only buy pure wool and alpaca yarns from environmentally sensitive sources. In addition to new yarn, they love recycling old wool into new products. They seek out pure wool sweaters in thrift stores that they can felt and turn into new items; take used buttons off of old garments to decorate new pieces; and even go so far as completely disassembling old sweaters to reuse the yarn for something entirely new.
“Knitting your own stuff or buying something handmade gives you a sense of confidence,” said Cora. “Knitting and buying local is a form of protest against the mass production of cheap, poorly made clothes.”
Don’t miss Big Blue Marble, the Phoenix Chorale’s season finale concert, which coincides with Earth Day on April 22. You’ll hear Frank Ticheli’s ‘Earch Song’ and Eric Whitacre’s ‘Water Night,’ along with a variety of pieces by Samuel Barber, Maggi Payne, and more.
If You Go
What: “Big Blue Marble,” Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale’s season finale concert
When: April 22 – 24, 2016
Where: APRIL 22, 2016 I 7:30 pm Friday – WEST VALLEY
American Lutheran Church 17200 Del Webb Blvd., Sun City
APRIL 23, 2016 I 7:30 pm Saturday – CENTRAL PHOENIX
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral 100 W. Roosevelt St., Phoenix
APRIL 24, 2016 I 3:00 pm Sunday – PARADISE VALLEY
Camelback Bible Church 3900 E. Stanford Dr., Paradise Valley
Cost: $32 Adult / $27 Senior & Military / $13 Student