Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers Shine in San Jose

Chamber Singers rehearsing at Saint Joseph BasilicaThe Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers and Glee Club have been busy performing around the world and racking up honors the past few years. After taking home two gold medals from the 2014 World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia, performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2015, and attending the Laurea Mundi International Choral Competition in Budapest over the summer of 2016; the choir started off its spring semester with a special performance. Each year, the California State Music Teachers Association hosts the California All-State Music Conference (CASMEC) which invites music educators from K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, and community music education organizations for professional development. Additionally, select groups are invited to perform as featured ensembles. The Chamber Singers were selected to perform at this year’s conference. Here’s the kicker—this was the first year the choir applied for consideration.

Julie Ford, director of the Music Program as well as the Glee Club and Chamber Singers, said she was surprised and elated to have the choir selected on its first try. As part of the application process, “You have to submit a recording of your group and then they are chosen by a blind panel,” said Ford. With the choir’s success over the past couple of years, sending over a few stellar recordings wasn’t a hard task at all. “We included some of the recordings from Carnegie Hall, which were particularly good,” said Ford. Following the blind panel deliberations, the Chamber Singers were selected along with 16 other performance groups from across California.

“The timing was challenging as the conference was on the first Friday of the first week of the spring semester,” said Ford. The members of the choir came back from the Jan Term recess two days early to take part in a mini boot camp. “We had been planning all fall, to make sure we were ready to go by December, and trusting that our two-month hiatus wouldn’t impact the performance,” said Ford. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the choir had to do some shifting around to cover parts for a few members who had to leave the group. Yet, said Ford, “They all rose to the occasion.”

The three-day conference was held in San Jose at the Fairmont Hotel, with the concert venue at Saint Joseph Basilica. The Chamber Singers were selected to perform, Feb. 17—and were the only collegiate group featured that day. Luckily for the Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers, they have had plenty of experience performing in a sanctuary, as they regularly perform in the Chapel on campus. Having the chance to perform at the Basilica allowed the group to take advantage of the beautiful acoustics of the space. The group received rave reviews in-person, and Ford continued to receive accolades via email and social media. “It was awesome. They hit it out of the ballpark,” said Ford. “I think it was the best performances of each of the songs in their repertoire.”

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