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.
The University of Washington Choral Cohort had a strong representation in the Choral Journal, the official periodical from the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Three of our current UW students as well as one alumnus all had CD Reviews featured in the February 2018 issue.
Second-year DMA student, Elisabeth Cherland, reviewed the CD Deo: Jonathan Harvey, which was recorded by the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge. She was especially enthusiastic about three of the pieces on the album: Come, Holy Ghost; I Love the Lord; and The Annunciation, which, by her estimation, made this album worth owning.
Another of our second-year DMA students, Gerrit Scheepers, wrote his review about Facing West: Choral Music of Conrad Susa and David Conte, recorded by Cappella SF Chamber Choir. As he stated, the works from these two composers are not widely recorded, so this CD is a valuable addition to the recording library. He effused praise for Cappella SF Chamber Choir’s impeccable balance, intonation, and diction.
Meg Stohlmann, a third-year DMA student, reviewed soft blink of amber light, recorded by the Houston Chamber Choir. The disc contains commissions and premieres from five American composers written for the choir’s twentieth anniversary. Many of the pieces featured unique instrumentation (including marimba) and several female poets and composers. As Meg said, this CD is “a must-have for conductors searching for new repertoire.”
Lastly, UW Alum Brad Pierson (2013) had a review of Buxtehude and His Circle included in this issue as well. Recorded by Theater of Voices, this album not only features two beautiful works from Buxtehude, but also works from lesser-known composers who were friends and contemporaries of the famed composer. The CD liner notes (in English and Danish) add valuable information about the composers included on this album.
These four add to the UW tally of reviews in the Choral Journal this academic year. In the October 2017 issue, third-year DMA student Sarah Riskind and second-year DMA student Steve Danielson also contributed CD reviews.
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.
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.
– Amanda Huntleigh, DMA
Dissertation title: Choristers’ Perceptions of Laban-based Conducting Gestures
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!
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!
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.
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.