Dr. Brad Pierson, Director of Choral Activities at The University of Toledo, also founded a variety of singing groups, including the Glass City Singers, and whateverandeveramen. The latter, a unique choir ensemble that specializes in creative performances, is breaking the mold of choral tradition.
Sunday, January 27, whateverandeveramen host their 3rd annual Robert Burns Night at Black Cloister Brewing Company. The event picks up a centuries-long tradition celebrating Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birthday on January 25. Often referred to as “Burns nights,” dinner parties in Burns’ honor became a tradition in the early 1800s, which continues to this day. Dr. Pierson shared some insight into the world of whateverandeveramen’s mission, and their upcoming performance.
How did these events originate?
Our Robert Burns events actually began in Seattle in 2013. I had long been a fan of Burns’ poetry; “O My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose,” for example, was a text I had performed with choirs on numerous occasions. I was trying to think of a way to create a choir performance that would engage the audience in a unique way and, when I discovered that people around the world celebrate Robert Burns Nights, I knew it would be a great fit for us. It was a great success, and since then we have continued to host events in Seattle and now in Toledo. We are really excited to be back at Black Cloister for a third year.
What is the connection between Burns and whateverandeveramen?
The connection between poetry and music is obvious as a singer. The choice for us to celebrate Burns was an easy one. The traditional Burns Supper, celebrated across the world for many, many years, often includes music as a part of the celebration. The reason that Burns is so closely tied to music is that he was actually involved in setting much of his poetry to music— which is very unique among the pantheon of great poets. In the late 18th century, there was some concern that traditional Scottish melodies were being lost, and that one way to ensure their survival for posterity was to create lyrics for them. These melodies, along with new poetry were collected into a large six-volume set called The Scots Musical Museum. I always thought it was a fascinating marriage of text and melody, and one that is perfect for singers and choirs.
Where is your group based?
whateverandeveramen doesn’t really have a “home city,” per se. I founded the group in Seattle as a graduate student at the University of Washington, and we have been fortunate to continue to perform there. We also do annual events in Las Vegas— I lived there for 13 years and go back to visit my parents. Now that I live in Toledo, this is probably “home base,” but the group is a project-based ensemble, meaning we use different singers all the time depending on the event. The singers in Seattle are not the same people who perform in Toledo.
What can attendees expect on the 27th?
Our Burns events include a mix of performance, sing-a-long, and a social atmosphere. We will perform a number of songs including poetry by Robert Burns, but we also sing traditional drinking songs, and we always invite our guests to sing with us. Add to that some delicious craft beer, and you get a really fun night out!
$15 | 6-9pm | Sunday, January 27
Black Cloister Brewing Company, 619 Monroe St.
Tickets via Brown Paper Tickets or