Gotta Be May!

We’re almost at the end of the quarter, but the fun isn’t over yet! Before we take a look at what’s to come, let’s revisit some highlights from the past few weeks!

On April 30, we held our annual cabaret night – this year, our theme was “Lights, Camera, Chorale!”. Alongside performances from our very own Chorale members, we also had guest appearances from the UW Vocal Jazz group and the Hounds of Music. We had a great time putting a show together for everyone, thanks for all the support!

Photo: Cabaret logo, designed by Vice-President Jenna Bellavia.

On May 29, we had our joint spring concert with Chamber Singers. Chorale’s portion of the concert also featured performances from Anacrusis (our non-music major satellite choir) and the Chorale members in our Baltic tour choir (more on that later!). Thank you to everyone who helped organize this concert, and best wishes to the graduating seniors in both choirs!

Our last concert of the year will feature Chorale joining forces with Chamber Singers and the UW Symphony Orchestra performing Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. All of us have been working hard to learn this challenging literature, and we would love to have you attend! More information is provided in this link.

In the meantime, our Meet Chorale series will be running until the end of the quarter, so make sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram if you want to keep up with all the posts!

The Estonian song festival is around the corner, so make sure to check back here for a review of our Baltic tour! But for now, peace out! ✌

The Return of Meet Chorale!

Hello everyone! This quarter, we’re bringing back the highly popular Meet Chorale series! Meet Chorale spotlights different members of the ensemble and helps us get to know each other better. It’s a great way to learn about new and old Chorale members!

These posts will be on Facebook and Instagram every week, so make sure to connect with us on these platforms!

With the beginning of May on the horizon, make sure to stay tuned for more news about upcoming performances and events! Our next big event is our annual Cabaret night – click the link below for more details!

https://www.facebook.com/events/405444753576848/

Until next time, peace out!✌

It Might as Well Be Spring!

Although winter quarter was a bit hectic with snow days, extra rehearsals, and usual Chorale business, we’ve had some amazing accomplishments over the past few months!

Our concert for Pēteris Vasks on February 6 was a tremendous success! All three choirs (UW Chorale, UW Chamber Singers, and the Pacific Lutheran University Choir of the West) performed beautifully, and even joined forces for the final piece – “Pūt, vējiņi”, a renowned Latvian anthem. Even though our three groups had never performed together before, we sang with a sense of solidarity that produced a deeply moving and unifying experience. We are incredibly grateful to Pēteris Vasks for attending and everyone who helped make this concert possible!

On March 13, UW Chorale and Chamber Singers united once more for our joint winter quarter concert. Chorale performed a couple of pieces conducted by our terrific TAs, Luke Duroc-Danner and Joslyn Thomas, as well as “To A Friend” – composed by Dr. Wyers herself! From the intricate dissonance of “Cantate Domino” to the soul-stirring emotion of “Ya Eres Mía”, it was a truly memorable experience for all. Both groups sounded wonderful, and we are again immensely thankful to everyone who attended or supported this concert!

Photo: Promotional image for UW Chorale and Chamber Singers concert.

With spring quarter right around the quarter, be sure to stay tuned for news about Cabaret, the upcoming Britten War Requiem concert, and the return of the Meet Chorale series!

Peace out, friends! ✌

The Life and Music of Pēteris Vasks

In the previous post, it was mentioned that Chorale would be performing a piece by Pēteris Vasks at an upcoming concert. You may be wondering, who is Pēteris Vasks and what kind of music does he compose?

Photo: Composer Pēteris Vasks

Pēteris Vasks was born in Aizpute, Latvia on April 16, 1946. While taking his first piano and violin lessons at the local music school, he began to write his first compositions as well. He went on to study double bass at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in Riga, and later at the Lithuanian Academy of Music. These skills allowed him to play double bass for both the Lithuanian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.

Vasks also studied composition at the Latvian State Conservatory under Valentinus Utkins between 1973 and 1978. Since then, he has published a multitude of orchestral, chamber, and choral pieces. A common theme throughout many of his pieces is the affirmation of Latvian history and Latvian spirit. In particular, his pieces from the 1980s-1990s reflect the harshness of the Soviet era and the tribulations faced by many Latvians. His symphony “Voices”, for example, chronicles Latvia’s struggle for independence and the hardships encountered in the process. His later works are primarily centered around universal themes – these include joy and despair, the beauty of nature, and hope for the future.

Video: A brief look at the role music plays in the life of Pēteris Vasks.

On February 6, Chorale will join Chamber Singers and the Pacific Lutheran University Choir of the West to perform the works of Pēteris Vasks and other Baltic composers. We will be singing Vasks’ “The Fruit of Silence”, a remarkably pristine piece based on the words of Mother Teresa. The concert is February 6 at 7 PM and will be held at University Presbyterian Church. We hope to see you there!

For more information about Pēteris Vasks, check out these pages!

Peace out for now! ✌

January Joviality!

Hello, everyone! With winter quarter in full swing, we’re hard at work learning new music and preparing for our upcoming performances!

On January 12, we participated in a choir retreat with Chamber Singers. Under the incredible leadership of Dr. Boers, we spent time learning the Britten War Requiem, which we will be performing with Chamber Singers in June. Afterward, we spent some time doing group bonding activities and discussing our plans and goals for this quarter. The retreat was a huge success and we’re all more excited than ever to showcase what we have in store!

When we get the chance to play singing games and totally goof around…we take it 😉

Posted by University of Washington Chorale on Monday, January 14, 2019

Video: Chorale participating in the fan-favorite “riff-off” activity.

As we continue preparing the Britten War Requiem, we’re also learning an excitingly diverse set of music! This includes a Brahms quartette, a couple of Baltic pieces from last year, and even a piece by our very own Dr. Wyers!

In addition to our winter quarter concert on March 13, we have an upcoming performance on February 6. We will be singing “The Fruit of Silence” by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, who will also be in attendance (more on that soon!). Until then, keep checking in here or on our social media accounts for the latest updates!

Peace out, everyone! ✌

End-of-year Wrap-up!

December was quite the busy month for the UW Chorale!

On December 5, we performed at CarolFest with a number of other UW choral ensembles. All of the groups sounded wonderful and it was fantastic to hear such a wide variety of repertoire. Thank you to everyone who was able to come to see us!

From December 7 to December 9, we performed at four Holiday Pops concerts at Benaroya Hall! Alongside the Seattle Symphony, as well as the amazingly talented soloists Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins, we spread holiday cheer through a number of festive pieces. Holiday Pops concerts are always incredibly fun, and this year was no exception! We’re immensely grateful for the opportunity to perform in this event and special thanks to everyone who was able to make it happen!

It’s been an exciting year of good music, good friends, and good memories! Here’s to 2019!

Until next year, peace out! ✌

Just Around the Corner!

With November behind us, let’s take a look back on all that happened this month and take a peek at what’s to come!

On November 18, select Chorale members performed at the Gerald Kechley Tribute Concert. Gerald Kechley served as a professor of composition at UW for nearly 35 years, and this concert was held to celebrate the creation of the Joan Catoni Conlon Endowed Fellowship in Choral Studies to Honor Gerald Kechley and Miriam Terry. This gift was bestowed by Joan Catoni Conlon (a former choral music professor as well as a former student of both Kechley and Terry) and her husband Frank Conlon (a retired UW history professor).

From left to right: Frank Conlon, Gerald Kechley, Joan Catoni Conlon

The literature of the concert was composed entirely of instrumental and vocal works by Gerald Kechley. Chorale sophomore Maddie Ile performed I Sing of a Maiden, and the select Chorale ensemble performed Carol of the Birds. Both pieces featured accompaniment by Anthea Kechley, Gerald Kechley’s granddaughter. Well done to all those involved!

On November 29, we had our joint fall concert, Songs of the Americas, with UW Chamber Singers. In keeping with the theme, Chorale’s literature included pieces from Mexico, Canada, the United States, and Peru.

We were hard at work today rehearsing Estrellita del Sur for Chamber Singers and University Chorale: Songs of the Americas on Thursday! It's at 7:30 at the Gerlich theater (formerly known as Meany), come join us and hear it live! 😊

Posted by University of Washington Chorale on Monday, November 26, 2018

Video: A snippet of Chorale rehearsing one of the featured pieces, Estrellita del Sur.

The concert was a massive success and both groups sounded amazing! Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and support us!

Looking ahead, we will be performing at CarolFest on December 5 and Holiday Pops December 7 through December 9! Check out our events page for more information and ticket links!

Until next month, peace out! ✌

Fresh Starts and Fall Retreat!

Hey there, everyone! Welcome back to the UW Chorale blog!

There are already a lot of exciting things happening, so let’s just jump into it!

On October 13, we had our annual fall retreat at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. The goal of the fall retreat is to grow closer as a group and reflect upon what we aim to accomplish through our music. We also get to know each other through different icebreakers and activities!

This retreat’s activities were led by our vice president Jenna, who did an amazing job with planning a variety of exercises for us to take part in. This included an exciting game of “zip zap zop” and a more introspective exercise in which we identified our core values and shared our thoughts with the other members of our section. Team bonding is always a lot of fun for everyone!

Along the way, we also had the opportunity to explore our repertoire for this quarter. Dr. Wyers has selected pieces from across the Americas for us to perform, and we were fortunate enough to rehearse them in the excellent acoustic space that St. Stephen offers. Even now, it’s easy to tell that in the near future they will sound absolutely beautiful.

We held elections for our cabinet during our retreat as well. All those elected have proven that they have the passion and dedication entailed by their positions. Congratulations to our 2018-2019 cabinet!

  • President: Aidan O’Hara
  • Vice President: Jenna Bellavia
  • Head Section Leader: Tiema Qian
  • Secretary: Natalie Modlin
  • Treasurer: Jason Bryce
  • Publicity Chair: Maddie Ile
  • Historian: Steven Santos
  • Social Chairs: Kaylee Pigott & Alex Nguyen
  • Concert Chairs: Gargi Sivaram & Eyad Alsilimy

(From left to right: Alex, Steven, Tiema, Aidan, Eyad, Jason, Jenna, Kaylee, Natalie, Gargi, Maddie)

From all of us here in Chorale, we’re incredibly excited for this year’s events and performances! To keep up with everything we have going on, feel free to check out our social media links on the sidebar! You can also check out our events calendar page to see our performance schedule for this quarter!

The quarter is just getting started – the best is yet to come!

Peace out! ✌

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!