The University of Michigan Chamber Choir, led by Jerry Blackstone, director of choirs and chair of the conducting department at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD), will embark on a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand beginning July 4, 2014. The tour is the result of a prestigious invitation to headline the 2014 National Conference of the New Zealand Choral Federation (NZCF) in Hastings, NZ.
The tour kicks off following a recording session at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor and a "bon voyage" concert at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, 9844 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, on Monday, June 30 at 7 p.m. The concert is free ($10 suggested donation) and open to the public.
The premier choral ensemble at U-M, the Chamber Choir performs a wide variety of the most challenging repertoire, ranging from renaissance to contemporary music. The 32-voice ensemble is composed largely of graduate and upper-level voice, choral music education, and conducting majors.
The Choir's "down under" tour will feature collaborations, workshops, and six concerts throughout Australia (Brisbane and Sydney) and New Zealand (Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, and Hastings). Cross-cultural experiences, particularly with Maori singers at the Museum of New Zealand, are highly anticipated.
The tour culminates with the 2014 NZCF Conference, July 16-19, where the Chamber Choir will present a featured concert. The performance will include recently premiered works by SMTD composition professor Kristin Kuster and graduate student Daniel Knaggs, made possible by the William and Delores Brehm Endowed Commission for Choral Works, and a work by graduate student Greg Simon, winner of the 2013 Brehm Prize in Choral Composition. A professional recording will be made of these new works and other tour repertoire. Blackstone will serve as the keynote leader for conference and will conduct master classes and present several other conference sessions.
The Australia and New Zealand tour is being made possible by a grant from the Office of the Provost, the Friends of Choir support group, and the Global Tour Fund, created by alumni of the 1961 Symphony Band that toured Russia and the Middle East.
Performances by Chamber Choir can be seen on their YouTube channel, titled "U-M Chamber Choir."