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.
Come enjoy the lighter side of University of Washington Chorale on Sunday, May 7th at 7 pm at the Ethnic Cultural Theater. An “A’Choir-ed Taste” is an annual cabaret concert and fundraiser, and will feature solos, duets, small ensembles, dance numbers and even comedy! Be sure to purchase $3 tickets for the cabaret raffle at the event or from any Chorale member, with over $1000 worth of prizes, including:
-Chipotle Free Item Coupons (5x Free Meal Items, 5x Free Chips & Guacamole)-Two tickets to Seattle Symphony for events forthcoming in 2017 (exact dates noted on the coupon)
-4 MOPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) tickets
– 2 tickets to see 5th Avenue Theater’s Romy and Michelle’s HS Reunion on Thursday June 8 at 8 pm OR any performance from June 9 through 12.
-One month unlimited yoga classes at Core Power Yoga
-$50 Thai 65: Gift Certificate
-$20 MOD Pizza Gift Card
-3 $30 Netflix Gift Cards
-$50 Tom Douglas restaurants gift card
-HBO Swag: Game of Thrones DVD, blanket, bag, swag bag
-Piano Tuning Service by Wilson Charles
-1 Glassybaby and a tour for 10 people of the glassblowing facility from Glass Baby
-1 Hour Voice lesson from Zach Buker
-DBL Bluetooth Speaker
-Pet Basket from Eastside Dog
-$25 Earl’s on the Ave Gift Card
-Two tickets to Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar
-4 $5 Tea Republik Gift Cards
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.”
The University Singers and Men’s Glee Club had the opportunity to sing with the Husky Marching Band on Saturday, November 12, 2016 as part of the band’s Veteran’s Day 75th Remembrance of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Husky Band performed a patriotic show including John Williams’ March from 1941, and Glenn Miller’s Chattanooga Choo-Choo. The show culminated with a medley of songs highlighting the Marines, Army, and Navy – all heavily affected by the events of December 7, 1941. The conclusion of the medley was God Bless America at which point the choirs took center field and joined their voices in tumultuous joy.
The University Singers and Men’s Glee Club are non-auditioned choirs at the University of Washington. Both choirs enjoyed the experience and look forward to other collaborations in the future.