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
Pictured: Miriam Anderson, David Wimett, Geoffrey Boers, Giselle Wyers, and Leann Conley-Holcom
On June 9-10, six choral conducting students graduated from the University of Washington! Several had some words to share about their experience in our program and thoughts about the future:
The UW choral conducting program was a wonderful place to build relationships with an amazing community of musicians, develop as an authentic leader, and invest in myself as a vocally-grounded conductor. Now that I have completed my degree, I look forward to creating movement-based applications for vocal and conducting instruction that combine some of the empirical findings from my dissertation with my immersive experiences becoming a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst. In the fall, I will continue in my position as Assistant Director of Choral Activities and Lecturer at Smith College.
I am grateful for my time at the University of Washington and for the ways that I have been encouraged to grown as a conductor, scholar, and individual. The nurturing environment, inspiring and challenging mentoring, and mutually-supportive community of choral graduate students did so much for me. I’m a proud Husky and alum of this program!
– Leann Conley-Holcom, DMA Dissertation title: ‘Come, All My Dear Brethren, and Help Me to Sing’: Dialogue and Participation as Foundations for the Choral Performance of Sacred Harp Music
The choral conducting program at the University of Washington is incredibly unique. You are surrounded by peers and mentors who all have tremendous gifts. Over the past two years I have become not only a better musician and conductor, but I’ve become a teacher- something I was not expecting. I’m not yet sure what I will be doing next year, but whatever I choose, I am sure that the experiences I’ve had and skills I’ve learned at UW will be integral to my success.
– Miriam Anderson, MM
Master’s exam topics included: Prison Choirs, Yoga for Musicians, Dance for Conductors, South and West African Choral Music and Percussion Accompaniment, Mozart Mass in C Minor, Mahler’s choral works, and more
We are also thrilled to congratulate DMA recipients Ryan Ellis and Brenda Mohr, as well as MM recipient David Wimett!
Right: Leann Conley-Holcom, Brenda Mohr, and Ryan Ellis
Left: Miriam Anderson, Geoffrey Boers, and David Wimett
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)
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.