Willamette Singers win Best Undergraduate Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble

by Adam Torgerson,

  • Willamette Singers

DownBeat magazine has recognized the outstanding talent of a Willamette University choral group for the third time in four years.

In the magazine’s annual Student Music Awards issue in June, DownBeat will honor the Willamette Singers, a 17-member vocal jazz group, as Best Undergraduate Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble for its latest CD, “Green Garden,” which includes an arrangement of "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" by music professor Mike Horsfall.

DownBeat awards are given to students and student groups from middle schools, high schools and universities from around the world. Professional musicians and educators judged audio submissions on such qualities as musicianship, creativity, improvisation and technique.

"Winning the DownBeat award for a third time is just as exciting as the first," says Choral Director Wallace Long Jr. "The credit belongs to the students who’ve worked for countless hours at rehearsals, outside sectionals and personal practice. Their dedication led to this recognition.”

Long’s sentiment was echoed by Willamette Singer Collyn Johnson ‘17, “To me as a senior about to leave, this award symbolizes how strong the Willamette Singers is as a musical force as well as a family.”

Both Johnson and fellow singer Maddy Goldman ‘17 encouraged students interested in music to take classes at Willamette. “If you have the chance to make music with your peers in college, go for it!” says Goldman. “I would not be the same person I am today if it weren't for Dr. Long and this amazing group.”

Fortunately for graduating seniors, Long’s musical family has reunions. And they’re planning the next for November 3-4 to celebrate Long’s 35-year tenure at Willamette. More than 200 alumni returned for the 2012 reunion, and Long is inviting all choir performers – including those who sang before Long arrived in 1983 – to return for the Gala Concert in November.