Willamette Choral Musicians Begin Winter Tour with Concert

The Willamette University Chamber Choir and Willamette Singers, under the direction of Wallace Long, will present their Winter Tour Kickoff Concert Saturday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. in Hudson Hall at the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center at Willamette University.

The performance will include a variety of sacred and secular works, both a cappella and accompanied. The concert is free and open to the public, although donations are encouraged to help students pay for the tour.

The students will be performing in cities across Oregon, Washington and Idaho during their week-long Winter Tour, with high school students joining them in each town.

The choir will feature "Cloudburst," a spectacular piece by one of today's most prolific composers, Eric Whitacre. "Cloudburst" received first prize in the 1993 American Choral Directors Association Composers of the Future competition and is described by the composer as "a ceremony, a celebration of the unleashed kinetic energy in all things." The Willamette Singers will perform Willamette alumnus Randy Crenshaw's arrangement of Toto's "Africa."

Choral ensembles from McKay High School, under the direction Gretchen Longwell, and North Salem High School, under the direction of Kerry Burtis, will also perform, along with several other Salem high school choir members.

The Willamette Chamber Choir is a 40-voice ensemble that performs throughout the Northwest. Archbishop Desmond Tutu invited the choir to perform in South Africa in 2004, and music from their South African tour is featured on their fifth CD, Thula Sizwe: A Celebration of Hope. Their latest CD, In the Heart of the World, was released in fall 2006.

The Willamette Singers is a 16-member vocal jazz ensemble. The Singers' 13th CD, Come Rain or Come Shine, was released in fall 2009.

Both groups have recently performed at regional, national and international conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, the Music Educators National Conference, the Oregon Music Educators Association and the International Association of Jazz Educators.