You may instead opt to audition in the fall, but you are encouraged to sing for us now if you are ready. You don’t need to prepare a song, but if you have one you like, bring it. We will vocalize you and learn a little bit about your voice type. There is no sight-reading required for the spring auditions.
On Saturday, April 14, 2018, Kathleen Battle returned to Seattle to present her solo concert “Underground Railroad – A Spiritual Journey” at the Meany Center for the Performing Arts. Ms. Battle was courted for years by the University of Washington before this concert was finally brought to fruition. She was accompanied in this performance by jazz pianist Joel A. Martin.
Traditionally, Ms. Battle presents this concert with predominately African-American choirs. This time, however, local gospel choir The Sound of the Northwest combined with the UW Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Geoffrey Boers to present a spiritual journey of music and spoken word.
Kathleen Battle worked intimately with the choirs for three days to finesse the nuances of the performance. The choirs worked on unifying their sounds and spirits as Ms. Battle explained the depths of the texts and stylistic specifications for African-American spirituals.
During the performance, Ms. Battle was able to connect with the audience using spoken text from Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, and music that brought tears to the eye, lumps to the throat, and dedication to remember the past to make sure it’s never duplicated.
Having Kathleen Battle on the UW campus was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students of the Chamber Singers; and experience that taught them not only about their voices, but also about themselves.
For more information about this collaboration:
On March 7-10, the Northwest Region of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) will be holding their biannual conference, this year in Portland, OR. Several University of Washington students and alumni will be presenting at the conference this year. As a capstone to the week, the UW Chamber Singers, under the direction of Geoffrey Boers, will be performing on Saturday morning.
Detailed information about each of the sessions can be found here. You can find the information about the UW presenters below (this information is also on the NW-ACDA site)
Liberating Singers with Choral Improvisation
Sarah Riskind, presenter
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 • 5:00pm
Musical improvisation can heighten the joy of music-making, increase self-confidence, develop creativity, improve aural skills, reduce performance anxiety, relieve stress, and strengthen community in all ages and abilities. In choral music, improvisation is traditionally linked to specific arenas: scat-singing, Gospel solos, harmonizing folk songs, and aleatoric sections of notated repertoire. However, crossing these boundaries with freer improvisation can liberate singers from the fear of singing wrong notes. Introductory activities in this participatory session will be playful warm-ups and games ideal for school choirs, followed by other improvisations that many types of choirs can do in both rehearsal and performance settings. Inspired by Pauline Oliveros and her philosophy of Deep Listening, singers will become aware of interactions within the group, dense and sparse textures, developing motives, changing tone color, and shaping structure in music with minimal restrictions. In an entirely idiomatic way, innovations in choral music can be linked more closely with current developments in contemporary instrumental improvisation.
(Re)imagining the Changing Voice: Adolescence to Senescence
Geoffrey Boers, Jeffrey Larkin, and Jeremy Morada, presenters
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 • 5:00pm
As our culture ages, more and more singers are remaining active longer in life. Church choirs and community choruses are filled with aging singers, all of whom face challenges with their senescent, or aging, changing voices. As we are seeing an explosion of choirs for older adults, this session will explore a new and developing area of research and importance for ACDA. Attendees will explore and play with teaching techniques and activities which address methods through which aging adults can experience musical growth and satisfaction throughout their lives. Andragogy (pedagogy for adults), sight-singing and musicianship, perception, physical health, memory, and self esteem will be addressed.
Reinvigorating the Chestnuts
Meg Stohlmann, presenter
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 8:00am
The process of discovering new artistry and musicianship through “”tried and true”” repertoire should be a part of our standard choral curriculum. These “”Chestnut”” songs become part of the canon because of the music’s ability to stand the test of time. Instead of just performing these pieces through emulation of past performances, the reexamination and rediscovery of the music between both ensemble and conductor can prove to be a most rewarding endeavor. Through the use of the University of Washington Chamber Singers and the cooperation of Dr. Geoffrey Boers, we will demonstrate that there is always something new to discover or reimagine about repertoire, that we are never done making music, that the performance is never complete. Attention to text stress and poetry, voice and breath flow management, and emotional expression to the music will be demonstrated to enhance the artistry of the ensemble. Focus of the material will be on high school and collegiate choral literature with application to community based ensembles as well.
Dialogue and Participation in the Choral Performance of Sacred Harp Music
Leann Conley-Holcom, presenter
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 9:15am
Mounting interest in folk and world music has led to increased choral performance of Sacred Harp, or shape note, repertoire. Sacred Harp is a communal musical practice that originated in the singing schools of colonial New England and is still active today, with hundreds of singing chapters across the United States and several burgeoning international chapters. Participants do not rehearse or perform, and there is no conductor. Community and collective music-making are the sole purposes of Sacred Harp singing. Lack of awareness in the choral community regarding Sacred Harp and its widespread accessibility for participatory learning has perpetuated a distanced choral approach to this music. This session presents a new perspective for the choral performance of Sacred Harp that moves beyond entertainment, places participatory learning at the foreground, and advocates for greater dialogue between the choral and Sacred Harp communities. Attendees will experience elements of a ritual “singing.”
(Re)imagining Relevance through New Music and Social Consciousness
Jeremiah Selvey, Wendy Moy, Justin Raffa, and Reginald Unterseher, presenters
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 8:00am
Hilton Pavilion West Ballrooom
The purpose of this panel discussion is to provide thoughtfulness on the importance of new music and social advocacy as we re-conceive the impact of the choral art in our various communities. The panelists will speak from the depth and breadth of their own experiences, as well as broader trends in the field, to provide practical ways to revitalize our choral communities by way of supporting the diversity of our humanity. This panel discussion will explore how we can integrate social consciousness and new music into our choral settings as a means of making the choral art more immediately relevant to our singers, communities, and audiences.
Jeremiah Selvey and Wendy Moy are UW Alumni.
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON Chamber Singers
Geoffrey Boers, conductor
Saturday, March 10, 11:30 AM.
The University of Washington Chamber Singers is the UW’s longest-standing choral organization, formed in the early 1930s. The group flourished and gained international recognition under the leadership of its conductors Gerald Kechley, Rodney Eichenberger, and Joan Conlon. The current Chamber Singers consists of graduate and advanced undergraduate music majors studying choral conducting, vocal performance, music education, as well as many students from programs across campus. They have been featured at many festivals, conventions, and workshops, including NWACDA, Musicfest Canada, and at the national conventions of the American Kodaly Educators, National Association of Schools of Music, and American Musicological Society. In relationship with the UW’s nationally recognized Baltic Studies program and Baltic Choral Collection, the Chamber Singers have travelled to the Baltic five times, and will return again in 2019. The choir has just released its first professionally produced CD “…behold again, the stars” on Centaur Records.
Every year, the Choral Music Department relies on the assistance and experience of the Graduate Choral Conducting Cohort. Under the leadership of Dr. Boers and Dr. Wyers, the cohort members direct University Singers, Men’s Glee, Women’s Chorus, and Recital Choir. They also act as Assistant Conductors for Chamber Singers and the University of Washington Chorale.
Click here to read their bios and get to know the current Choral Conducting Cohort.
Fall Auditions for the UW choirs are quickly approaching. They will take place from 9am-4pm on September 25 and 26. Singers have the opportunity to audition for Chamber Singers, University Chorale, or Recital Choir.
Sign up for an audition time by clicking here. After you fill out a form, you will see a link to select an audition time. For more information about the audition process, click here. We encourage you to sign up as early as possible!
Chamber Singers – The University of Washington Chamber Singers is a professional-level choir consisting of graduate and advanced undergraduate music majors, as well as advanced musicians of majors from across the UW community. Meets Monday through Friday 12:30-1:20 pm in Brechemin Auditorium.
University Chorale – The University of Washington Chorale is an auditioned advanced undergraduate ensemble of music and non-music majors from the Seattle campus. Meets Mondays & Wednesdays 3:30-5:20 pm in Music Building, Brechemin Auditorium and Room 213.
Recital Choir – The Recital Choir performs diverse literature directed by choral conducting graduate students. Meets Tuesdays & Thursdays from 4:30-5:20 pm in the Music Building, Room 213.
University Singers, Gospel Choir, and Women’s Chorus
If you’d like to sing in University Singers, Gospel Choir, Men’s Glee, or Women’s Chorus, there is no audition necessary– simply come to the first day of classes! You can register in advance or in the first week of classes.
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
- “Music Performance Anxiety and Conducting Gesture”– Poster Session (Gerrit Scheepers, D.M.A. candidate)
Oregon Music Educators Association Conference: Eugene, Oregon, January 11-14, 2018
- “Can You Hear Me Now?!: The Process of Conductor’s Auralization” (Jeffrey Larkin, D.M.A. candidate)
Washington Music Educators Association Conference: Yakima, Washington, February 15-18, 2018
- New Choral Literacy Rubric (Dr. Geoffrey Boers)
- Washington Junior All-State Treble Choir (Dr. Giselle Wyers)
- “The Power of the One-on-One” (Jeffrey Larkin and Meg Stohlmann), D.M.A. candidates
American Choral Directors Association Northwest Regional Conference: Portland, Oregon, March 7-10, 2018
- “The Changing Voice: Adolescence and Senescence” (Dr. Geoffrey Boers)
- “Dialogue and Participation in the Choral Performance of Sacred Harp Music” (Dr. Leann Conley-Holcom, D.M.A. Spring 2017)
- “Liberating Singers with Choral Improvisation” (Sarah Riskind, D.M.A. candidate)
- Artistry and Expression (Meg Stohlmann, D.M.A. candidate)
- UW Chamber Singers Performance
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.