Category Archives: Events

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!


Fairies at the CarolFest

Last Thursday, we had our combined Fall Choral Concert with the Chamber Singers. I hope for those who went to the concert enjoyed the time being there because we definitely had a good time on stage making music. On Monday during rehearsal, we shared some good comments that we heard from our friends and families with each other. We always take some time in rehearsal after each performance to reflect on the good and bad things on the performance. It’s a way for us to know what people like about us and what we can do to make our next performance better.

“My job – is to push you as far as possible, but enough so that you don’t fall off from the cliff,” said Dr. Wyers.

This statement that she made about her responsibility in this group no doubt mirrors her actions since the beginning of the quarter. We acknowledge her hard work, and truly appreciate how far she has brought us within a short period of time.

IMAG0234Now, as we all know, one of the most well-known and most celebrated holidays is coming near the corner. You probably already noticed that from posters in stores, Christmas lights on the streets, or perhaps carolers who have knocked on your doors. These holiday fairies come around the town to bring blessings to people, and I was lucky enough to see them earlier on the day of the Thursday performance last week. Anya (middle) and Jacob (right) from Chorale were singing that day. There are other singers in the groups and some of them are also from the UW Chorale. I have not had the chance to meet all the fairies, but you might. As you’re walking to your classes, look around and you might see them. If you do, take a moment to listen, it might be just what you need on the dead week before the finals.

carolfestgraphicTomorrow in Meany Hall, we will be singing in the traditional CarolFest (buy tickets here) along with the Chamber Singers, University Singers, Women’s Choir, Gospel Choir, and UW Men’s Glee Club. Enjoy the Many Moods of Christmas (also the title of one of the songs that the UW Chorale will be singing) and wish you all the best.

University of Washington Chorale sings with the Seattle Symphony!


     The University of Washington Chorale is excited to join the UW Chamber Singers and the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall in Downtown Seattle this coming weekend for the performance of “Some Enchanted Evening: Rodgers & Hammerstein Celebration”. The concert is summarized by this excerpt from the Seattle Symphony website:

“Celebrate the golden age of Broadway! New York Pops music director Steven Reineke brings to life the legendary music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Broadway actors Ashley Brown (Mary PoppinsBeauty and the Beast) and Aaron Lazar (The Last ShipA Little Night Music), along with baritone Jonathan Estabrooks and University of Washington Choirs, join the Seattle Symphony for a memorable program of favorites from Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific and more.”

The singers of UW Chorale have been working tirelessly on music for this concert, which opens this Friday, March 6th, at 8:00 pm. Additional shows are on Saturday, March 7th (also 8:00 pm) and a matinee on Sunday, March 8th (2:00 pm). Additional information can be found on the Seattle Symphony website, here.

Look for another post coming soon about what we have already accomplished this quarter, and what is coming after these performances!

Reminder: Chorale sings in our Fall Concert (12/2) and CarolFest (12/3)!



This is a late reminder, but I hope this Tuesday’s Fall Concert has been on your calenders since our first blog post this academic year! We are excited to present to our friends, family, and supportive community much of the music we have been working on all quarter in a concert entitled Sun on the Plains. All of our new members and old members have meshed beautifully to create a cohesive, purposeful sound. We are proud to present pieces ranging between a unique opening tune composed by the multi-disciplinary artist Meredith Monk, an Irish/Scottisk love song, and our closing piece, a classic Broadway show-tune that many of our members and audience will love and adore. And that’s only three of the many exciting songs on tonights program, which includes more songs from us as well as UW’s Chamber Singers. The show starts at 7:30 PM: tickets are $10 for students and seniors, and $15 for the rest of our guests.

On the following night, Chorale will join many other ensembles from the University of Washington to celebrate CarolFest, where we will reprise some of our material from our Fall Concert to contribute to the exciting night of seasonal music. Both the Fall Concert and CarolFest will be excellent productions by dedicated choral groups, and an excellent use of your evening. On behalf of the UW Chorale and the entire UW arts community, thank you in advance for attending and supporting the arts!

Update: Click here for another video of a small ensemble of UW Chorale members singing a Seahawks vs. Eagles version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Tune in to The Hot 103.7  on Monday mornings at 6, 7, and 8 AM for the rest of the month to hear more carols!


Reminder: Women of Chorale sing with the UW Symphony!

Greetings family, friends, and fans of the University of Washington Chorale! Our singing at the opening of Ann Hamilton’s “A Common Sense” on October 11th at the Henry Art Gallery went wonderfully, with new singers arriving every 15 minutes to sing to the images of the animals and the beautiful clothing  (made from animal furs, skins, and other animal products)–and many staying longer than their allotted 15 minutes to continue to explore the many galleries and experiment with the impact of song. Many thanks to all of our supporters who attended the event, and to Ann Hamilton for offering us this opportunity. This gallery will be open from 11-4 pm on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 11-9 pm on Thursday and Friday, and will be open until April 26th, 2015. Find more information about the exhibit here.

music-121312-vr-tifThe first on-stage performance by members of Chorale is happening on this Thursday, October 30th. The women of Chorale are joining the UW Symphony, conductor David Alexander Rahbee, and guest artist Jeff Fair onstage at Meany Hall to sing music from Felix Mendelssohn’s overture and incidental music from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21 and 61. The concert starts at 7:30 pm, with ticket prices ranging from $10-$15. More information can be found here.

Also: our cookie dough fundraiser has officially begun! Speak to a member of Chorale to order a tub of Cougar Mountain cookie dough. Cookie dough can be ordered by Wednesday, November 5th, so act quickly! The tubs of cookie dough will be delivered to us and distributed to or picked up by you on November 19th and 20th, just in time for Thanksgiving!


Fall 2014: New Faces, Ann Hamilton’s “A Common Sense”, and more

It’s autumn, time for the beginning of a new academic year and new year of music-making for the University of Washington Chorale! After auditioning and then singing at call-backs on the first day of school, the 2014-2015 University of Washington Chorale was established. Almost half of the members of Chorale are new to the ensemble; additionally, returning assistant conductor Debi Johanson has been joined by a new assistant conductor, Elizabeth MacIsaac. We’re enjoying all the new faces and all the returning members, encompassing many different ages, majors, and backgrounds, with one common goal: to make create fantastic music and have a great time doing it!

We kicked off a year with a choir retreat last Saturday where we introduced ourselves to each other, rehearsed, played games to bond as a group, and elected a new Choir Cabinet (the group of leaders selected from among our members to assist the choir and Dr. Wyers in day-to-day operations, fundraising, and promotion of the choir). We are working towards many diverse performances this year, the first of which is occurring very soon: tomorrow, in fact! (Read on to learn more!) In addition to tomorrow’s performance, and an exciting choral exchange with the Rogers High School Choir in November, there are several events during the quarter that are worth experiencing:

  • Women of Chorale join the UW Symphony for Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Suite on October 30th, 2014

    • Conducted by David Alexander Rahbee, the women of the University of Washington Chorale will accompany the UW symphony for their last piece of the night, but the entire concert is worth attending!
    • Located at Meany Hall at 7:30 PM: Tickets range from $10 – $15
    • Learn more here.
  • Chorale and Chamber Singers’ Fall Concert on December 2nd, 2014
    • The University of Washington Chorale joins the UW Chamber Singers to perform their fall quarter concert, consisting of choral literature learned during the quarter.
    • Located at Meany Hall at 7:30 PM: Tickets range from $10 – $15
    • Learn more here.
  • CarolFest on December 3rd, 2014
    • The University of Washington Chorale joins the UW Chamber Singers, University Singers, Women’s Choir, Gospel Choir, and Men’s Glee Club to perform seasonal music from around the globe.
    • Located at Meany Hall at 7:30 PM: Tickets range from $10 – $15
    • Learn more here.

hamilton  Last, but not least: tomorrow’s performance! The UW Chorale has enjoyed collaborations with many artists, and this weekend joins Ann Hamilton in her soft opening of “A Common Sense” at UW’s Henry Art Gallery. Ann Hamilton is a world-renowned artist who has created an installation exploring the common global language of touch, through the display of uniquely created prints like the one above (made by scanning the bodies of hundreds of animals from UW’s Burke Museum)  and traditional clothing made from animals. Accompanying this will be sound of about 20 mechanical bullroarers, and members of the University of Washington Chorale, in duos or on their own. The Chorale members will serenade the prints and artifacts with poetry developed and set to music by Ann Hamilton herself and Chorale’s director, Dr. Giselle Wyers. The exhibition will run from October 11th until April 26th, 2015, but be sure to come during the day tomorrow if you want to hear Chorale’s contribution to the exhibition. For the rest of the duration of the exhibit, Chorale members, Dr. Wyers, and community members are welcome to stop in on their own time and fill the museum with Hamilton and Wyers’ poetry. Read UW alumna Kelly Huffman’s impression of the exhibit or click on the hyperlinked title above to find more information.

And some final information about Chorale: we are planning to have a cookie dough fundraiser this quarter. Choir members will be contacting friends and family and collecting orders between October 15th and October 29th, and the cookie dough will be distributed on November 12th, in time to make delicious batches of cookies for Thanksgiving! Also, you may have noticed that the blog has limited content at the moment, and that is because of all the new faces among our members, Cabinet, and conducting team, as well as a plethora of exciting performances planned for the coming 9 months that made the existing blog content out of date. Updated content will be posted shortly!


verb. work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something


Why is collaboration important? Like the above definition suggests (courtesy of Oxford Dictionary), people collaborate to create, and often times what comes as a result exceeds the expectations of the creators. This year, University Chorale has had some fortunate opportunities to work with other artists, each for different reasons.


Chorale at Ann Hamilton’s gala

Sometimes, people collaborate for a great cause. Like how we coordinated with Mateo Messina, Imogen Heap, and Pomplamoose in a benefit concert for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Or how we contributed our singing talents to a fundraiser and gala at the Henry Art Gallery for visual artist Ann Hamilton.


Sapience and Chorale take the stage of Meany

Other times, we collaborate to tell a story. Like how we coordinated with the Sapience Dance Company to convey a message of peace with Randall Thompson’s A Peaceable Kingdom. Or how we joined University Symphony and Chamber Singers in expressing the sorrows of death and begging for forgiveness in the final hour with Duruflé’s Requiem.


Women of Chorale and Vita in Canto share a rehearsal

We also collaborated with other choirs to share our singing experiences. Like how we exchanged songs with the Olympia High School choir and toured them around campus. Or how the women of Chorale shared with a Russian women’s choir, Vita in Canto. They’re under the direction of UW Masters graduate, Yuly Kopkin, and at the time were touring the United States.

As the school year winds down, and we reminisce about the people we’ve worked with, we bring our memories and our experiences to the stage for one more collaboration. This time, we will be working with saxophonist Michael Brockman in our concert, Out of Darkness. Our combined efforts will tell the tale of rising out of darkness in times of strife, and celebrate the times when life shows us the light. It will feature the saxophonist’s world premier of his composition, Ēka Satya, and a composition by our very own Dr. Wyers: A Lantern Voice.

10277182_10202020143840685_5779827530574878337_nWe hope you will join us for our final concert of the 2013-2014 school year!

Maurice Duruflé!

What have we been up to lately? Words cannot express fully all that we’ve done so far, so let’s recap using multimedia!

Over the past few weeks (and in fact, much of winter quarter), we’ve been relentlessly rehearsing for this concert:


We had our Spring Retreat, where we thoroughly worked on this quarter’s repertoire, and where this happened.

During a rehearsal in Meany Hall, we practiced some Laban techniques.

We worked with Dr. Johnathan Talberg, who provided great insights on Duruflé’s Requiem. Fun fact: he studied under the maestro who conducted the premiere of this piece!

Finally, Dr. Wyers conducted a choir… of instruments. Yeah, that joke fell flat, but you should check out this video anyways. She’s a natural! (Oops, I accidentally made music puns).

Get excited! All of this preparation will come to fruition this Tuesday, April 22nd. It will be a beautiful concert!

Yo te diera, mi bien, por tus amores hasta la sangre que hierve en mis arterias.

If love makes one feel deep pain
And condemns one to live in misery
For your love, I would give you, my dear
Even the blood that boils within my veins

If it is the fountain of mystic grief
And makes men drag long chains
I swear to you I will drag them across
The infinite and black seas of my sorrows.

Have we caught your attention? Above is a translation of Juramento (Matamoros, arr. Silva), one of the many songs we are singing in our concert. Get ready for an exciting evening dedicated to Latin American composers and poets! In case you’re not intrigued enough, the rest of our program will feature songs about:

  • Nighttime descending upon the tree of the lonely soul
  • A prayer, asking for mercy in times of strife
  • The lament of the guitar and how it incessantly longs for something lost
  • Killing off the darkness within us
  • The life and times of a cat (yes, you read that correctly: a cat)

By the way, it’s in two days! Plus, we will be sharing the stage with Ballard High School’s Chamber Choir (under the direction of Courtney Pelavin), as well as the University of Washington’s Chamber Singers: their program about stars will surely make this a cosmic evening. We hope to see you all there!


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

‘Tis the season! Time for turtle-necked baristas and warm drinks, scarves and heavy coats, and conversations by the fireplace. Peppermint white mochas are a must!

How are you preparing for the holidays? Maybe you’re decorating a tree, or you’re hunting down the perfect wrapping paper for all the gifts you bought. Perhaps you’re frolicking and playing the Eskimo way whilst walking in a winter wonderland. Or maybe hearing carols will get you in the holiday spirit! If that’s the case, you’ve two opportunities to hear University Chorale sing you into the season.

This Wednesday, December 4th will be our annual CarolFest. All of the choirs of the University of Washington will be participating, singing the classics and bringing cheer to all those who listen.  Even more exciting is that all choirs will combine to sing variations on Silent Night to commemorate the 150th death anniversary of composer Franz Grüber. Come join us in Meany Hall at 7:30 pm for this wonderful celebration of the holidays!

A concert hall not your style? Maybe hearing carols out in the brisk Seattle air is your forte. Despite the chilly weather arriving this week (because baby it’s cold outside), Chorale will join hundreds of carolers in Westlake Center for the 27th Annual Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition and Fundraiser this Friday, December 6th from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. What makes this event even more special is that all funds earned during the competition will benefit the Pike Senior Center and Food Bank. It’s a great opportunity to spread the season’s joy, so stop by in your cozy sweaters and mugs of hot chocolate and sing along in this beautiful tradition.

On behalf of the University Chorale, please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents by the tree! Happy Holidays!