Every year, the Choral Music Department relies on the assistance and experience of the Graduate Choral Conducting Cohort. Under the leadership of Dr. Boers and Dr. Wyers, the cohort members direct University Singers, Men’s Glee, Women’s Chorus, and Recital Choir. They also act as Assistant Conductors for Chamber Singers and the University of Washington Chorale.
Click here to read their bios and get to know the current Choral Conducting Cohort.
Dr. Giselle Wyers conducts the UW Chorale in concert at Meany Hall
Fall Auditions for the UW choirs are quickly approaching. They will take place from 9am-4pm on September 25 and 26. Singers have the opportunity to audition for Chamber Singers, University Chorale, or Recital Choir.
Sign up for an audition time by clicking here. After you fill out a form, you will see a link to select an audition time. For more information about the audition process, click here. We encourage you to sign up as early as possible!
Chamber Singers – The University of Washington Chamber Singers is a professional-level choir consisting of graduate and advanced undergraduate music majors, as well as advanced musicians of majors from across the UW community. Meets Monday through Friday 12:30-1:20 pm in Brechemin Auditorium.
University Chorale – The University of Washington Chorale is an auditioned advanced undergraduate ensemble of music and non-music majors from the Seattle campus. Meets Mondays & Wednesdays 3:30-5:20 pm in Music Building, Brechemin Auditorium and Room 213.
Recital Choir – The Recital Choir performs diverse literature directed by choral conducting graduate students. Meets Tuesdays & Thursdays from 4:30-5:20 pm in the Music Building, Room 213.
University Singers, Gospel Choir, and Women’s Chorus
If you’d like to sing in University Singers, Gospel Choir, Men’s Glee, or Women’s Chorus, there is no audition necessary– simply come to the first day of classes! You can register in advance or in the first week of classes.
A number of UW grad students, alumni, professors, and ensembles will be representing the department all over the country in 2017-2018! We are excited to share our pedagogy, research, and music-making with other choral conductors and singers at several upcoming conferences:
National Collegiate Choral Organization: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, November 2-4, 2017
- “Forgotten Motets for Female Voices from New France”– Poster Session and Presentation (Elizabeth MacIsaac, D.M.A. candidate)
Aging & Society: Seventh Interdisciplinary Conference: University of California at Berkeley, November 3-4, 2017
- “A Lifetime of Singing: The Impact of Aging on the Vocal Instrument” (Jeffrey Larkin, D.M.A. candidate)
Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities: Honolulu, Hawaii, January 9-11, 2018
- “Music Performance Anxiety and Conducting Gesture”– Poster Session (Gerrit Scheepers, D.M.A. candidate)
Oregon Music Educators Association Conference: Eugene, Oregon, January 11-14, 2018
- “Can You Hear Me Now?!: The Process of Conductor’s Auralization” (Jeffrey Larkin, D.M.A. candidate)
Washington Music Educators Association Conference: Yakima, Washington, February 15-18, 2018
- New Choral Literacy Rubric (Dr. Geoffrey Boers)
- Washington Junior All-State Treble Choir (Dr. Giselle Wyers)
- “The Power of the One-on-One” (Jeffrey Larkin and Meg Stohlmann), D.M.A. candidates
American Choral Directors Association Northwest Regional Conference: Portland, Oregon, March 7-10, 2018
- “The Changing Voice: Adolescence and Senescence” (Dr. Geoffrey Boers)
- “Dialogue and Participation in the Choral Performance of Sacred Harp Music” (Dr. Leann Conley-Holcom, D.M.A. Spring 2017)
- “Liberating Singers with Choral Improvisation” (Sarah Riskind, D.M.A. candidate)
- Artistry and Expression (Meg Stohlmann, D.M.A. candidate)
- UW Chamber Singers Performance
On Friday and Saturday of this weekend, guest conductor Murry Sidlin will lead the UW Chamber Singers, University Chorale, Symphony Tacoma Voices, members of the Seattle Jewish Chorale, and the UW Symphony Orchestra in a unique version of the Verdi Requiem. The “Defiant Requiem” tells the poignant story of the Jewish prisoners at Terezín during the Holocaust, a concentration camp where many musicians and artists were kept in oppressive living conditions and eventually deported to Auschwitz and other death camps. Imprisoned conductor Rafael Schächter taught the music to over 100 singers entirely by ear from a single piano-vocal score, giving voice to the plea for deliverance that the prisoners were not able to communicate to the outside world.
Mr. Sidlin conducts the Defiant Requiem all over the world in order to honor the memory of the prisoners who persevered through Verdi’s powerful music. The performance includes video footage of Terezín survivors, spoken monologues by actors, snippets of music heard at Terezín, and a discordant piano that brings the audience back to Schächter’s world. Through this lens, the choirs and orchestra can present a work with Catholic text as a universal message about suffering and courage.
Friday, June 2nd, 7:30pm at Meany Theater, University of Washington ($15/$10)
Saturday, June 3rd, 7:30pm at Tacoma Armory ($35/$20)
More information here.
Defiant Requiem Documentary on PBS
The UW Choral department hosted 9 choirs on Thursday, May 11th for the annual Choral Festival of Excellence! From everywhere from Ballard to Portland, these high school, middle school, and college choirs each performed a set onstage at Meany Hall and received feedback from guest clinician Eric Johnson (Northern Illinois University). In additional workshops, Dr. Boers and Dr. Wyers gave the choirs new ways to approach their repertoire and technique. UW graduate students also worked with the full group of sopranos and altos on the Zulu wedding song Ngiqomekwa and with the tenors and basses on a John Williams medley. In a brief lunchtime performance, Chamber Singers sang music by Jake Runestad and Jeffrey Ames.
The festival was a fabulous opportunity to share our ideas with hundreds of singers and teachers in the Pacific Northwest and to experience all of these excellent programs. Many thanks to DMA student Jeffrey Larkin for organizing this wonderful event again, as well as all of the undergraduate and graduate choral singers who volunteered throughout the day! If you have a choir you would like to bring next year, save April 23, 2018!
On Tuesday, May 16, the choral department enjoyed an inspiring visit from the Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds! Choral and instrumental ensembles all over the world frequently program Ešenvalds’ works, which express meaningful texts in several languages with vibrant harmonies and diverse timbres. The Baltic Studies program hosted Ešenvalds to discuss the stories and influences that went into his Nordic Light Symphony on Tuesday evening, and he spent the morning working with the choral department. The choral conducting graduate cohort and alumni resonated with his ideas about storytelling, the value of humility, the joy of singing at any age and ability, the interpretive role of the conductor, and other concepts that often come up in the choral culture. Ešenvalds coached the cohort on his composition The Earthly Rose, which they will perform on DMA student Thomas Almli’s recital on Monday, June 5th at 7:30 at University Presbyterian Church, and he breathed new life into Chamber Singers’ interpretations of his Amazing Grace and Algirdas Martinaitis’ Alleluia. They will sing those works on Wednesday, May 24th at 7:30pm in Meany Hall.
Visit Ēriks Ešenvalds’ website to listen to his music and read about his background.
Are you a current or former UW choral singer who would like to experience a new ensemble in 2017-2018? In the spring auditions on May
19 (10am-3pm), you will have a chance to sing for the choral faculty. You may be called back for Chamber Singers, University Chorale, or Recital Choir, or you can just sign up for University Singers, Men’s Glee, or Women’s Chorus with or without an audition! Fill out this form to sign up, or read more information on our audition page.
April was a busy month for the UW Chamber Singers and Opera Workshop, featuring two separate productions of Henry Purcell’s 17th-century opera Dido and Aeneas. Faculty artist Stephen Stubbs led student singers and instrumentalists in a staged version in Meany Hall on April 13th, then brought in professional soloists and members of the Pacific MusicWorks period orchestra for concert performances in Benaroya Hall and Meany Hall on April 29th and 30th.
While Geoffrey Boers and Stephen Stubbs coached both subsets of Chamber Singers in Baroque performance practice for the Dido choruses, U.K. choreographer Anna Mansbridge put a modern spin on the staged version with a wide range of movement styles. Chorus members created human sculptures of trees, writhed like villainous witches, performed elegant country dances, and caroused like sailors, often bringing out the humor in an otherwise tragic tale. Four professional dancers provided another means of storytelling and artistry.
The other half of Chamber Singers sang the choruses in the April 29-30 concert performances with Laura Pudwell and Brendan Tuohy in the title roles. Instead of the Fairy Queen prologue that opened the staged production, they began with Purcell’s Welcome Song for the king. This collaboration between the UW Chamber Singers and Pacific MusicWorks was preceded by other rewarding early music projects, including Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and Handel’s Messiah in the 2016-2017 season.
The lighter side of the UW Choral program was in full display during the Holidays as the University Chorale and Chamber Singers enjoyed light-hearted music around Seattle. University Chorale collaborated with the Seattle Symphony Holiday POPS, kicking the holiday season into high gear. And if you can’t tell “Who” these singers are, they are members of the UW Chamber Singers singing at a Christmas party at the Seattle Center—dressed up like Who’s from Whoville, and singing music from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Continue to follow the joyful, energetic and ever-changing profile of UW Chorale and Chamber Singers, as they travel to New York’s Carnegie Hall in April, and perform the athletic and dramatic Verdi Requiem with University of Washington Symphony Orchestra this June!
University of Washington Chamber Singers, Director of Choral Activities Geoffrey Boers, and UW graduate students and alumns in choral conducting performed at an Estonian Independence Day recognition ceremony in Odegaard Library last week. The celebration was a gathering of the Baltic Community, captured by UW TV, coinciding with the opening of a photo art exhibit celebrating the Song Festival UNESCO tradition in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Dr. Boers and Dr. Wyers combined a “tour choir” which combined to travel and perform in the 2014 Latvian Song Festival. University of Washington has the only choral library collection of Baltic music in the US, established in 2005.