Making Music – and Friends – from Around the World



Our March Concert Poster


What’s one of the best parts about going to a large, internationally-recognized university? Making connections with people from all over the world!

This Winter Quarter, University Chorale explored music from the Baltic Region, singing pieces from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In part, this was a great way to prepare for and look forward to the Chorale trip to Estonia in summer 2019. Also, we had the great distinction of welcoming ambassadors from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania at our March 2nd concert, and we performed an all-Baltic set to honor these countries.

To give us a little context on what role music plays in the Baltic nations, we held a showing of “The Singing Revolution”, a documentary on Estonia and their story of peaceful protest under Soviet occupation. It was incredibly moving to watch this powerful film and understand just how much music means to the people of Estonia. Music can be one of the best ways we can connect as human beings, and seeing how these people used music to unite and hold onto their national identity under oppression was truly inspiring.

“The Singing Revolution”

Our a-cappella music set included a variety of folk songs in languages that were both exciting and challenging to sing. We were very grateful to have some diction help from the UW Baltic Studies department to tackle the traditional delivery and nuance these languages required. It was great to hear that not only did we get our diction correct – thankfully! – but we did these songs justice when we performed them at our March concert.

The Sopranos and Altos were featured on “Dindaru Dandaru”, a quick-paced Latvian folk song that included six-part harmonies and rapid-fire lyrics. The Tenors and Basses had their chance to shine on “Teomehe-laul” (“Serf’s Song”), an Estonian piece with a rich melody that moved between voice parts and really showed off their strong voices.

In the Lithuanian piece “Anoj Pusej Dunojelio”, the Tenors and Basses learned how to produce otherworldly overtones, creating the perfect foundation for Sylvia Jones’s solo. She sang with a beautiful, crystal-clear quality to that was just right for this piece.

One of our assistant conductors, Anna Frisch, conducted the Latvian song “Līgo!”, which had us swaying to the breeze of the music, led by two trios covering the solo lines.

Perhaps the most moving piece of the night was “Pūt Vējiņi”, a traditional Latvian folksong that has become a symbol of hope and identity for the Latvian people. In addition to singing the Latvian verses, we included verses in Estonian and Lithuanian, and we ended the piece with the final Latvian verse entirely memorized. Our audience members, including our friends at the Baltic Studies department, said this was a truly touching moment.

This concert was particularly special since we had the opportunity to engage with vocalists from around the world. A few days before our concert, we invited Evans Obanda Mbinji, a choral conductor from Kenya, to our rehearsal. He shared some traditional Kenyan music with us, and we even opened our March concert with “Jambo!”, a song of greeting and welcome. Also at our concert was the Putni Women’s Ensemble, an internationally-recognized group from Latvia. They came to our rehearsal after the concert, treated us to a sample of their repertoire, and shared some kind thoughts about our concert.

Attending a large university can have its challenges, but it is so exciting to see the international connections we can make at a school like UW. This past quarter has reminded us of the real power in music to unite people from all walks of life and serve as a symbol of hope.

We’ve got an exciting Spring Quarter coming up, as we’ll be diving into the Brahms Requiem among some other great repertoire. Plus, the annual Chorale Cabaret is just around the corner! Stay tuned for more updates on all things Chorale.

Until next time!


Fall Quarter Updates!

Hello again friends,

We are now in our final week of the quarter, and we have been rockin’ and rollin’.


During the first few weeks of learning our fall repertoire, we had a special guest appearance–Ivar Cinkuss, director of the 2013 Latvian International Festival of Song and Dance, came and directed our choir for a few minutes.

What an incredible special guest we had in class on Wednesday! Although more accustomed to conducting a choir of 16,000, Ivars Cinkuss, Director of the 2013 Latvian International Festival of Song and Dance, conducted our Chorale of 60 through some of our repertoire for our Fall Concert! Here's a taste of one of our favorites this quarter, Mille Regrets.

Posted by University of Washington Chorale on Friday, November 3, 2017


After directing a couple of our pieces, Ivar gave some great, specific, and memorable advice which helped our final performance on November 30th (which we killed).


Our fall performance included pieces in several languages including German, French, and Mongolian. Although many of us were happy to take on the French and German, we were reluctant on singing the Mongolian–it seemed like a daunting task! And yet, after hours of listening to a recording and speaking out the words together, we were able to spit out the foreign words like no other.


We are now working on our Holiday Pops music, which include popular pieces such as “I Saw Three Ships,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and “Sleigh Ride.” Our performances are this weekend, December 8th through the 10th. We have had so much fun rehearsing, and are excited for this holiday spirit-filled weekend so please come and support us!

Until next time!


New Year, New Friends, New Music, Same Chorale Spirit

Hello fellow Chorale friends, members, family, and fans! Whether it be your first time hearing about Chorale or not, we welcome each and every one of you.

We officially kicked off the new year with our annual fall retreat at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church this past Saturday. For those of you who are unfamiliar to what a retreat is, it is typically a day for new and returning choir members to get to know each other in a setting outside of the classroom. Our VP, Byron, did a terrific job in directing the ice-breakers; in fact, our president, Evan, was having so much fun that he nearly caused a scene by running into another member while playing “never have I ever!”

In addition to getting to know each other and playing ridiculous games, we were able to take a peek at our repertoire for the upcoming quarter. As usual, Dr. Wyers did a fantastic job of choosing a diverse selection of pieces ranging from traditional Western classical pieces, to a Mongolian piece that will have audiences in complete awe.

And finally, towards the end of retreat, we had our annual election for our cabinet.

(And yes, we are indeed dabbing)

Our cabinet members are as follows:

  • President: Evan Shelton
  • Vice President: Byron Walker
  • Head Section Leader: Anya Hsu
  • Secretary: Sam Fredman
  • Treasurer: Cannon Roe
  • Publicity Chair: Marcy Landes
  • Historian: Lina Bishop
  • Social Chairs: Natalie Modlin & Ally Arnold
  • Concert Chairs: Gargi Sivaram & Maddie Ile

We are more than excited to serve Chorale for the next year or so, and can’t wait to see where this quarter takes us!

Until next time <3


New York, New York!

UW Chorale took on the big apple last weekend, performing in numerous different venues!

The day we arrived, we enjoyed a group dinner and then headed to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine to tune in on a pickup rehearsal. It was amazing to hear the different groups (The Manhattan School of Music Choirs, the Oratorio Society of NY, the Cathedral of St. John’s Choir, Professional soloists, and the Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kent Tritle) perform Britten’s War Requiem.

On Friday, we performed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine with UW’s Chamber Singers. The venue was fun to sing in, with such a beautiful setting and wonderful acoustics. We performed a few pieces that we would go on to sing in Carnegie the next day. We were also fortunate enough to learn a little bit of the backstory of the Cathedral.


The next day, we had the opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall! Chorale took part in the first half of the show, right before the Washington and Lee University Singers, conducted by Shane Lynch. We were also able to sit in the audience of UW’s Chamber Singers, directed by Geoffrey Boers, and the University of Louisville Cardinal Singers, by Kent Hatteburg. Being able to sing on stage at such an iconic venue was an amazing experience.

Sunday we sang alongside the choir at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle. We sang during the Mass, and also performed a 30 minute concert following the service for any parishioners that chose to stay and listen. This was a great cultural experience for the members of the choir to take part in the service.


Monday was our last day in New York, where we spent the day over at Hofstra University and participated in an exchange with the University Chorale, conducted by Dr. David Fryling. We got to listen to their repertoire and perform some of our own music, along with UW Chamber Singers, and had time to mingle with the Hofstra Chorale.


Performing in New York at all these different venues was an experience Chorale members will never forget! Special thank you to the Chorale and Chamber Singers directors, Giselle Wyers and Geoffrey Boers, and Sechrist Travel for accompanying us on this journey!

Till next time,

UW Chorale.

Exciting NAfME performance!

This year, UW Chorale performed at the NAfME conference at the Hyatt in Bellevue. We were very excited to share our fall literature with the many music educators that attended the conference on the 17th! We received many amazing reviews, all thanks to the hard work of the choir and our wonderful director, Dr. Giselle Wyers! We look forward to the next conference and the opportunity to share our love of music with those who also share that same admiration.

As the preparation for NAfME comes to a close, our next big performance is coming right around the corner. UW Chorale is working hard to perfect our literature to perform in Carnegie Hall this April. The time when we take flight to New York is approaching fast as we perfect our repertoire, and we are ecstatic to perform.

Till next time,

UW Chorale 🙂

Ending Fall Quarter!

15439884_10154809281897692_9044756591166714253_nThe end of Fall quarter held a lot of events for UW’s Chorale. Holding our first concert, we performed all the music we learned throughout the ten-week period. The concert went on without a hitch, as our show did a wonderful job of demonstrating our hard work. It was a duel concert with the University’s Chamber Singers, so we also had the opportunity to stay past intermission and watch their performance of what they worked on. It was a wonderful experience, and we are grateful to all who were able to come and show us their support!

We also had the opportunity to sing alongside the amaz15393000_10154875826304434_4467375993066888413_oing Seattle Symphony for an extravagant Christmas production. Singing beside the symphony was a great experience, as we were able to perform with two Broadway stars, Hugh Panaro and Nicole Parker, as well as the Halau Hula O Napualani dance group. Conducted by Stuart Chavez, we were able to perform four shows without problems! It was a wonderful experience full of holiday cheer and we were delighted to be invited to help convey the spirit of the holidays through song with the Seattle Symphony.

We look forward to an exciting Winter quarter to kick off the new year!


Till next time,

UW Chorale

Kickoff to the New Year!

20161008_141510-3Hello Chorale followers! This year, UW’s Chorale had our annual “beginning of the year” retreat early this October! It was a great way for new members to meet other members of the choir. We had ice breakers, playing games like “Never Have I Ever” and other introductory games. We also rehearsed our new music, which gave us a head start on our performance pieces and gave members an introduction to the types of music we will be singing this year.

We also introduced the new year’s cabinet members at the 20161008_141650-2retreat, introducing some new members in addition to the returning members! This years cabinet includes Bradyn Rookard, Evan Shelton, Lillian Karout, Magnolia Pattison, Marcy Landes, Miriam Nunley, Natale Modlin, Nick Reynolds, Sam Fredman, Stephanie Hobart, and Zachary Buker. With such a strong group of passionate Chorale members, this year’s choir is due to be a success!

14642391_10154545789192481_5550888042142379344_nThe Chorale also started this year with an exciting performance with the Cascade Children’s Chorus at the TOGETHER UW event on October 21st! The event went flawlessly and it was a perfect experience for first year Chorale members to get in the game. It was a great way to kick off the new year and get members excited about upcoming events.

Miss Singing? Get Ready for More Exciting Sing & Fun Events

Hi to you all, our dearest Chorale fans and families, I hope you’re all enjoying the summer. I’m sure all of you are having a great time but it’s never perfect without the lovely Chorale’s beautiful voices. I’ve come here to bring you good news!

This year will be very exciting and busy. Not only do we have our traditional Fall Choral Concert with the Chamber Singers, as well as the CarolFest, we have also been invited to sing with the Holiday POPS that will most likely happen around November, December. We have been planning and fundraising for the past few years, and our trip to New York will finally happen next year (2017) in April (so~ exciting!!). These kinds of trips don’t happen every year (unfortunately I did not get a chance to travel overnight with Chorale during my years at UW 😥 ), so definitely try to get this opportunity while you can (and the deal is incredible, I promise!!). These are just some of the major events. There will be many more interesting and challenging projects going on throughout the year.

So, as for now, if you’ve been UW Choraleattending our concerts or hearing about us (or know someone who’s coming to UW), you should definitely (and tell your friend to) give it a go and come to the auditions that will happen on September 26th and 27th. Now is a good time to start thinking about a song to sing for us on the audition. For more information, click here.

Have a great rest of the summer & Gook luck!

Once upon a time…

Today, we had an interesting warm-up led by our very own Sarah Riskind. We are lucky to have her as our Assistant Conductor for the entire year. sarah_riskindShe’s especially good at creating the desired tone and atmosphere within a short time in warm-ups to get our voices and mindsets ready. On top of that, she has also been working with us on one of the songs that will be performed on the quarterly choral concert. It’s challenging on both her and our side, but I’m confident that in two weeks, this song will be one of the highlights of the concert.

So remember I was going to tell you all that has happened up to this point?

Here’s how the story goes…

Once upon a time, a group of young talented students/people decided to join the UW Chorale to pursue their passion for music. They took on many projects including a benefit concert, fall choral concert, a CarolFest, and holiday POPS concerts. Then, Winter quarter comes… and they only have ONE concert!? So is that all they’re going to focus, just that ONE concert? Of course not! We all know their capacity from Fall quarter. Well, they’ve decided to make it more difficult by memorizing all the songs to be performed in this concert. They’ve also decided to get ahead of the game by working on the Mass in Time of War by Haydn that will be performed in April, Spring quarter.

As the quarter goes on, one day, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, conductor of the Radio Choir from American Public Media, wonders around the fores12654201_1101537879866717_1122515143610385952_nt of choral music, and happens to bump into the UW Chorale (though the real story is more like he knows one of our past assistant conductors in Minnesota and was sent to our way). The UW Chorale sings for their new friend Tesfa, and he decides that this music should be made know to more people (you can find the video here). Although the time together was short, the connection between the two will be long lived.

Some other things happened after meeting Tasfa; some of them helped Chorale become a more bonded group, and some helped making our future plans closer. Their journey’s not over yet. Come on and follow me, and maybe one day, we will arrive to the land that we dream of.

#SUPER late start #Goodbye Brenda #Wait! There’s more

Hey Chorale followers! I know this is a REALLY late beginning post and you probably were wondering why there haven’t been any posts about our performance or life this quarter. Well, I have to admit that it’s mostly my part to blame, but… I’m a busy senior! Have you ever felt that you’re like the busiest person in the world, but years later when you look back, then you realize that “humm, I really wasn’t that busy.” Isn’t that funny that we always think we’re busy? Ok, enough of my excuses and let’s get on to the point now.

So, after our big, fantastic Holiday POPS concert in December, to be honest, we don’t have a whole lot to do this quarter besides the quarterly concert coming up soon on March 9th (which I’m sure you all have bought your tickets, right? If not, you should buy the tickets here). But there are some good and bad news still I would like to share with you.

First, sad news with regards to our assistant conductor – Brenda Mohr has decided to leave us because she has some other important projects going on that need her full energy and amazing musicianship. She has always been very helpful when leading the sections and is always willing and trying to make us better musicians. Her warm-ups were fun and effective. We will always miss her in Chorale and hope she continues her great work in everything she does!

With that said, this means we have a new assistant conductor joining us this quarter. Joel Bevington is our new young and handsome assistant conductor. I have to say this is about all that I know about him, BUT, we still have an entire spring quarter to get to know him. I can definitely tell you that he leads great warm-ups, and is very precise and careful in looking for the right tone/sound when leading us during rehearsals. Looking forward to work more with him.

I’ve only mentioned a bad and a good news, so I guess it evens out. But this is not it. I’ve got more news coming for you and Yes they are all good and exciting! Stay tuned!