ASU Choirs 2021–22 season aims to lift all voices

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Faculty and students in Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s six choral groups spent the last year thinking about the ways people are oftentimes unintentionally excluded.

“We made changes to the structure of our program, we examined all of our materials and we had thoughtful discussions about what we need to do to live up to our desire to include all people,” said David Schildkret, director of choral activities and professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

The theme for the 2021–22 choral season is "Lift EVERY Voice," and each concert will close with the groups singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as "the Black National Anthem," was a hymn originally written as a poem in 1900 by Johnson, a lawyer, school superintendent and NAACP leader, in celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Johnson's brother, John Rosamond Johnson, composed the music.

Selecting the repertory for a season is complex, Schildkret said, as the music must always serve the individual choir members' growth and education and also improve the ensemble as a whole.

He said all six of the choral ensembles are making a conscious and deliberate effort to perform more music by women, LGBTQ and underrepresented composers.

The Concert Choir opened their season with music by three Black composers, three female composers and a Latino composer. Sol Singers performed two works by a transgender composer. The Holiday Gala will feature "Break Forth," a work for large chorus, brass, timpani and organ by Black composer Adolphus Hailstork, one of the country's preeminent composers.

The Choral Union will be performing music previously rehearsed and planned for spring 2020, including the “Missa Brevis” by Zoltán Kodály in February and “Gloria” by Antonio Vivaldi in April.

Schildkret said the ensembles were not able to sing together in any meaningful way for three semesters and are still discovering the impacts of the pandemic.

“Singing is especially personal, so it takes time for singers to learn one another's styles and how to match their voices,” Schildkret said. “Coming back together has been emotional – at times overwhelming – and challenging. We are all having to relearn the art of ensemble singing. We are having to relearn how to listen and how to keep moving forward.”

He said whatever a singer is feeling affects their voices and getting back to a regular schedule has been challenging and at times stressful for everyone.

Now that they are singing together again, Schildkret said he hopes audiences enjoy this year’s season.

“We hope and believe that more people will be reached more deeply when listening to a broad range of voices,” Schildkret said. “Ultimately, we want each concert to be an uplifting experience for the listener and fulfilling for the singers.”

2021–22 choral season

View the full season.

7:30 p.m. Dec. 3
Holiday Choral Gala
“Let Our Rejoicing Rise!”
six ASU choral ensembles
ASU Gammage
ASU Gammage Box Office (Admission: $12; ASU students free)

7:30 p.m. Feb. 17
ASU Philharmonia and Gospel Choir
“Resilience”
ASU Gammage
Free admission

7:30 p.m. Feb. 26
ASU Barrett Choir Pops Concert
ASU Gammage      
ASU Gammage Box Office (Admission: $12; ASU students free)

2 p.m. Feb. 27
ASU Choral Union and Concert Choir
“Ring with Harmonies!”
ASU Gammage
ASU Gammage Box Office (Admission: $12; ASU students free)

7:30 p.m. Feb. 28
Arizona Statesmen and Sol Singers
“We Sing!”
Dayspring United Methodist Church
Herberger Institute Box Office (Admission: $12; all students free, any level or institution)

7:30 p.m. April 5
Spring Choral Showcase
Arizona Statesmen, Concert Choir and Sol Singers
“May We Forever Stand!”
ASU Gammage
ASU Gammage Box Office (Admission: $12; ASU students free)

7:30 p.m. April 8
ASU Philharmonia, Choral Union and Barrett Choir
“Metamorphosis”
ASU Gammage
Free admission

Lynne MacDonald
lamacdon@asu.edu

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