Category Archives: Status Updates

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! ✌

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!

Chorale On Fire

Firelight_Banner_2_880x399On Friday, November 6th, the Chorale performed in an amazing concert with Grammy winning composer Mateo Messina. We were on fire, well, everyone was on fire! All the guest artists were phenomenal, including Sweet Water, Shawn Smith, Sela Tuiono, and the Columbia Boys and Girls Choir, and they really gave us a kick in energy when we were on stage. Although the performance was entertaining and the purpose was to raise money for Seattle Children’s Hospital, the meaning stretches far beyond that. 11041117_10153718356817692_5806972078393432465_nWe were lucky to have him come over to our rehearsal before the concert and gave us his thoughts and inspirations behind the project. Fire is a central part in the human history, but the idea of fire has changed from a necessity for survival to a symbol of stories from our past, of our lives. Everyone, healthy or ill, rich or poor, has the responsibility to pass on their stories to the next generation. This is the second time for the UW Chorale to work with Mateo, with the first time in 2013 also for the benefit concert (See A Symphony of Perspective). Every time we work with Mateo, we receive gifts that are not just music, but also new ideas, perspectives, and inspirations. We enjoyed working with Mateo a lot and looking forward to our next coopration.

Even though the Firelight concert was over last week, the UW Chorale has not burn out the fire yet. We are already looking ahead into December and have our minds and focus directed to our Fall Choral Concert “The Unbreakable Mirror.” On Monday during our rehearsal, we quickly reviewed our songs for the repertoire and had a small performance by the boys and girls in the Chorale. There will be one song in the up-coming Chorale concert that will be sung by males only, and another one by females only. The girls and boys in the choir have been split in separate rooms to practice these two songs during rehearsals, and on Monday was the first time we’ve ever heard each other.

IMAG0187The song that the boys performed was called Gao Shan Qing. Now, I have to step out side as a blogger and acknowledge the boys form my personal view – they were fantastic!! Their enunciation was great; I could almost understand every Chinese word they sang. Their color and power was also just right and beautiful. You can really see that they’ve worked hard on the material.

IMAG0198The girls performed after they boys, and the song was called Hymn to the Waters. It’s a song that requires a lot of internal energy while being very quiet and light. The tempo was much faster then expected, but the girls were great in adjusting quickly and get into the space faster. The tone of the girls were clear and smooth, dispite from the fast tempo, and beautifully created an image of falling angels (at least that’s how I’d like to think of ourselves as).

There are many things and projects still in progess, in Chorale and in our lives. We enjoy every moments possible and try to make the best music out of very opportunity. At the moment we are still working on the details of our songs, and with time, we will definately give you – our friends, families, and fans – another memorable experience.

Fall 2015: Welcome Chorale – Young and Fresh

12118722_10153664456047692_3656384484927003832_nIt’s Fall again! Lots of new faces, activities, holidays, and of course singing! This year, the University of Washington Chorale is very lucky have lots of new and beautiful voices join the ensemble. We learn and grow each year as we sing together to create beautiful moments, and yet we seem to get younger and fresher at times. This year is definately one of those times with most of our new voices Freshmen, and it will be exciting to see how these young voices grow and create their Chorale in a few years. We are also lucky to have two new but amazing assistant conductors: Brenda Mohr and Sarah Riskind, join us this year.

12049215_10207864889521681_6343614547908108513_nWith a group of about 60 people, it is hard to get to know everyone who we’ll be singing together for the rest of the year. But we’re not worried about that, because we have had our first annual choir retreat on the Saturday of October 10th. (Photo left: University Chorale: Refuge, see here for more detail.) The best way to know people around you is to get comfortable singing next to them. And so we did! We started off singing, eat and chat, and played bonding games. The new Chorale Cabinet was also selected during our retreat. And of course, we ended the retreat with our beautiful voices.

12088242_10153704962047692_6176512150685883438_nOur goal this year is to continue reaching our voices out to the public, on or off campus. We have already started with a small ensemble of UW Chorale Carolers singing Auld Lang Syne for the Business School end of the year promotional video on Monday, November 1st. Special thanks to them for their extraordinary performance that gets us off to a good start!

There are many more events that the Chorale will be doing this year. Here are some, listed below, that will take place this Fall that you might be interested in. Chek them out and buy tickets now!

  • Firelight: Mateo Messina on November 6th (Fri), 2015
    • UW Chorale will be joining Mateo Massina again after the 16th Annual Children’s Benefit Concert and perform his original composition of Firelight.
    • Location: Benaroya Hall
    • Time: 8:00pm
    • Tickets: $42-$200
    • Learn more and buy tickets here.
  • Fall Choral Concert “The Unbreakable Mirror” on December 3rd (Thu), 2015
    • UW Chorale and Chamber Singers will be having a concert together to show case what they have learned in the Fall quarter
    • Location: Meany Theater
    • Time: 7:30pm
    • Tickets: $10 all tickets
    • Learn more and buy tickets here.
  • Carolefest on December 9th (Wed), 2015
    • Six choral ensembles offered at the University of Washington Seattle will be holding a performance together to celebrate the holiday
    • Location: Meany Theater
    • Time: 7:30pm
    • Tickets: $10 all tickets
    • Learn more and buy tickets here.
  • Seattle Holiday POPS on December 11 (Fri), 12 (Sat), and 13 (Sun), 2015
    • Conducted by Stuart Chafetz, UW Chorale will be joining Bradway star Capathia Jenkins and acclaimed pianist/ singer Tony DeSare, along with the Seattle Symphony to celebrate the holiday
    • Location: Benaroya Hall
    • Time: Dec 11 (Fri) – 8pm, Dec 12 (Sat) – 2pm, 8pm, Dec 13 (Sun) – 2pm
    • Tickets: $35-$76
    • Learn more and buy tickets here. 

Check your calendar and ask your friends and family to come support the UW Chorale. You don’t want to miss out all these fun. We’d love to see all your faces!

Springtime Melodies

The UW Chorale is jubilantly bringing the spring academic quarter to a close, celebrating our 3 months of studying musical literature with a concert last week and a second concert this Friday, June 5th. Our conductor, Dr. Giselle Wyers, was on sabbatical this quarter, and we were led instead by our two assistant conductors, Debi Johanson and Elizabeth MacIssac. We tackled a diverse range of literature, including an A Cappella version of Billy Joel’s “Lullabye” and a choral arrangement (one of the first of its kind) of a traditional Arabic melody.

IMG_2984      We were invited this quarter to continue to build our relationship with the Seattle Symphony, through participating in LinkUp, a musical outreach program that teaches 3rd through 5th grades students about the Symphony. Several UW Chorale soloists led a full house of elementary school students (and there was a week of these performances) in interactive songs, at Benaroya Hall. Additionally, a larger ensemble (approximately 10 students) sang “O Fortuna” with the Seattle Symphony, accompanied by over 2000 school children playing recorders.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.36.59 AM     Last Wednesday, May 27th, we sang the first portion of the musical literature we studied this year. We excelled musically under the fearless and inspired instruction of Debi and Elizabeth, who each picked half of the songs from our repertoire to conduct for the concert. It was a very moving concert, ended with the recognition of our student leadership, the Chorale Cabinet, and of our graduating seniors or leaving members, whose hours of enthusiastic music-making are appreciated greatly! Dr. Wyers also joined us on stage, and we recognized her for her excellent foundation of instruction for us this year, as well as organizing and managing the LinkUp project for the choir.

We will perform together with the UW Chamber Singers and the UW Symphony this coming Friday, June 5th. At this concert we will join the Chamber Singers and Symphony for two songs, Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky” (1938) and Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” (1965). In between, the Chamber Singers sing Verdi’s “Stabat Mater” (1897) with the UW Symphony. We are thrilled about capping off our year with these two beautiful works.


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!


Welcoming the Holiday Season with Song!

IMG_7084Some quick updates: On October 30th, the women of Chorale accompanied the UW symphony to perform a beautiful rendition of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Additionally, the cookie dough fundraiser officially finished! Cookie dough was distributed this week, just in time for the Thanksgiving weekend! I know I’m looking forward to lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies!


University Chorale also got some great community outreach opportunities over the past couple weeks: last week several leaders within the choir (pictured to the right) traveled downtown and recorded several SeaHawks-themed christmas carols for radio station HOT 103.7 that will be aired in the coming weeks. Tune in on Monday morning and you will possibly hear this talented group singing!

UPDATE (11/24): Click here for a video of the ensemble above performing the Seahawks vs. 49ers version of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.


Also, yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting a choral exchange with the Rogers High School Choir. Kassey Castro (pictured to the left), a leader within Chorale, led the warmups, and Rogers High School alum (and Chorale member) Jonah Melchert sang an excellent solo in Italian to show some of what he has achieved in the music program at UW so far, and Rogers High School alum (and Chorale member) Evan Shelton spoke about the benefits of participation in choir from a non-music major’s point of view.

wolflogo2Lastly, some information about our near future: on December 2nd we proudly present our Fall Concert, in which we will sing various pieces of music we have rehearsed since September. The next night, the UW Chorale will be participating in the annual UW Carolfest, joining many other choral groups at the university to sing a diverse collection of seasonal music. Following that, on December 10th, a small ensemble of Chorale members will be singing during the opening of 100.7 The Wolf’s Hometown Holiday! All but the Suite tickets are sold out, but if you go like our Facebook page and keep your eyes trained on our updates, there may be a chance that you could get a ticket after all!


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!