K&J – Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble

(NOTE: Due to the inclement weather – this event has been re-scheduled to December 28th in Plattsburgh and December 29th in Lake Placid)  

The Northern Adirondack Vocal Ensemble is conducted by Drew Benware. The Choir consists of approximately 20 members consisting of Professionals and amateurs, all of whom bring extensive previous choral experience to the group. Between them, they represent a cross-section of the region, including Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties. The Festival of Lessons and Carols is in it’s third year and will be presented at St Peter’s Church in Plattsburgh on Saturday at 7pm and again at St Agnes Church on Sunday at 4pm.

We’re speaking with Drew today on the K&J show about the Festival of Lessons and Carols which follows the traditional model of those performed annually on Christmas Eve (since 1928) at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. The customary format is built around nine short Bible readings from the Old and New Testaments that trace the story of the fall of humanity and the promise of a Messiah to the birth of Jesus. Anthems, carols, and hymns are liberally interspersed throughout to illuminate the narrative musically.

K&J – 122013 – Drew Benware NAVE interview

Drew is currently director of choral activities at Saranac Lake High School, where he conducts Festival Chorus and Concert Choir in addition to the Select Men’s and Women’s Vocal Ensembles. Additionally, he offers small-group voice instruction to students and provides musical direction for the drama department’s annual school musical. Benware’s students regularly attend the NYSSMA solo festival as well as selective ensemble festivals at the county and regional levels.


In the summer months he serves on the faculty at the Ithaca College Summer Music Academy, an intensive musical experience for High School students who are interested in pursuing careers in music. He leads classes in instrumental conducting and serves as accompanist and vocal coach for the musical theater and opera workshops.

Benware has served as assistant professor of instrumental music education at the Ithaca College School of Music in Ithaca, where he taught courses in wind instrument pedagogy, instrumental conducting, and secondary instrument methods. Additionally, he supervised student teachers and conducted both the brass choir and concert band. He also acted as accompanist and guest conductor for the campus chorale and accompanist and collaborative instructor for the Musical Theater Workshop.

He is a native of northern New York state where he served several years as a public school music educator, both as director of instrumental music at Saranac Lake High School and as director of choral activities at the Peru Middle/High School.

Benware is active as a lecturer and clinician, having recently presented at the NYSSMA Winter Conference in Rochester, NY, and is in frequent demand as a guest conductor for vocal and instrumental honors ensembles throughout New York state. He is also active as a performer, exemplified by his frequent appearances at Saranac Lake First Night, and as organist at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Saranac Lake. He holds both a Bachelor of Music degree in music education with a concentration on the Trumpet and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the Ithaca College School of Music.

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