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 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)
More information here.
Defiant Requiem Documentary on PBS
Jen Rodgers, one of our choral conducting DMA students, took the initiative in bringing UW musicians to a homeless encampment this winter. Men’s Glee, Women’s Chorus, and members of University Chorale were among the performers at Tent City 3. Read a thought-provoking article about the experience, featured on the School of Music Website!
“Graduate choral conducting student Jennifer Rodgers discovers what is possible when a university that provides space for a homeless encampment also has a world-class music department.”
The lighter side of the UW Choral program was in full display during the Holidays as the University Chorale and Chamber Singers enjoyed light-hearted music around Seattle. University Chorale collaborated with the Seattle Symphony Holiday POPS, kicking the holiday season into high gear. And if you can’t tell “Who” these singers are, they are members of the UW Chamber Singers singing at a Christmas party at the Seattle Center—dressed up like Who’s from Whoville, and singing music from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Continue to follow the joyful, energetic and ever-changing profile of UW Chorale and Chamber Singers, as they travel to New York’s Carnegie Hall in April, and perform the athletic and dramatic Verdi Requiem with University of Washington Symphony Orchestra this June!
University of Washington Chamber Singers, Director of Choral Activities Geoffrey Boers, and UW graduate students and alumns in choral conducting performed at an Estonian Independence Day recognition ceremony in Odegaard Library last week. The celebration was a gathering of the Baltic Community, captured by UW TV, coinciding with the opening of a photo art exhibit celebrating the Song Festival UNESCO tradition in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Dr. Boers and Dr. Wyers combined a “tour choir” which combined to travel and perform in the 2014 Latvian Song Festival. University of Washington has the only choral library collection of Baltic music in the US, established in 2005.
Two of University of Washington’s top choirs finished up a busy quarter last week, with performances on campus and across the community. The UW Chamber Singers (prepared by Geoffrey Boers, director), sang four performances of Handel’s Messiah in a collaboration with regional early music ensemble Pacific MusicWorks, under the direction of Stephen Stubbs, who was recently nominated for a Grammy. Their innovative approach was lauded in a recent review of the performance by Phillipa Kiraly at CityArts Online.
UW Chorale sang four Holiday POPS concerts with Seattle Symphony, under the direction of nationally renowed POPS conductor Stuart Chafetz (prepared by Giselle Wyers, director). The chorus had the opportunity to back up Broadway and TV star Capathia Jenkins, as well as collaborating with Tony deSare, composer, singer and pianist.
Stay tuned for more performance information after the new year, and enjoy these photos from the recent events.
The University of Washington Chamber Singers kicked off their year with a dazzling performance of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers with Pacific MusicWorks October 24th, under the direction of Grammy-award winning conductor Stephen Stubbs. University of Washington Director of Choral Activities Geoffrey Boers prepared the chorus in a series of intensive rehearsals that began even before the school year started. The performance took place at the historic St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle. Stay tuned for information about our upcoming on campus choral concerts, including our fall concerts November 20th (University Singers, Women’s Chorus and Men’s Glee) and December 3rd (UW Chorale and Chamber Singers), and Carolfest December 9th, all at 7:30 pm.
Don’t miss University of Washington Summer Chorale’s upcoming performance of “Eternal Light”, a Requiem by Howard Goodall, under the direction of DMA candidate Brenda Mohr. The performance takes place Wednesday, August 12 at 7:30 pm at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. UW Summer Chorale is also proud to present guest chorus E-STuudio Youth Choir from Estonia, under the direction of Külli Lokko, who will perform selections from their West Coast tour. Admission is free and open to the public.
The University of Washington Chorale and Chamber Singers just completed a three-performance run of Rodgers and Hammerstein POPS concerts with Seattle Symphony under the direction of Steven Reineke, who also serves as Principal Conductor of the New York POPS. The combined choirs were joined by outstanding soloists Jonathan Estabrooks, Ashley Brown, and Aaron Lazar. Our performance earned us a “Rave” in the Seattle Times and ignited some promising future connections with the Seattle Symphony.
UW Choral Festival of Excellence April 13, 2015
Please consider joining the University of Washington Choral Department and guest clinician Dr. Eric Johnson of Northern Illinois University on April 13, 2015 at the Meany Theater for the Performing Arts at UW. Your students will enjoy a videotaped on-stage clinic with Dr. Johnson, an off-stage clinic with Dr. Geoffrey Boers, Director of Choral Activities at UW, and a special directors luncheon. Visit the UW Choral Festival Page for all the details and registration flyer!