choral music

Kalamazoo Children's Chorus

Taylor Gudbrandson, the newly-appointed artistic/executive director of the Kalamazoo Children's Chorus, speaks with Cara Lieurance about her new role and her goals for the 40 year-old organization, which nurtures young singers from elementary through high school with different choirs for several singing levels. She recalls participating in the Chorus while still in high school, and how it offered the stability and artistic challenge she wasn't getting from her school choir. Gudbrandson also pays tribute to Fred Sang, who retired as artistic/executive director in July.

Choral conductor Nick Sienkiewicz graduated in April from Western Michigan University with degrees in music and biochemistry. He also helmed the Unitarian Universalist Community Church choir and was working with the Kalamazoo Children's Chorus. But the pandemic changed all that. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Sienkiewicz shares his science-oriented perspective on how choral activity was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and why it's important to use current research to find ways to continue singing. 

Sienkiewicz summarizes some of the recent developments in our understanding of the transmission of the virus, and vaccine development. He says that even with his background in biochemistry, it's still a challenge to read and absorb the latest research published in different science journals. That contributes to laypeople's confusion about COVID-19. It doesn't help that official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control  is being contradicted, questioned and even changed by the current administration. But, he says, the efforts of scientists working around the clock to combat COVID-19 is a beacon of hope.

Sienkiewicz will attend Indiana University-Bloomington this fall to pursue a Master's degree in Choral Conducting.

Ad Astra Music Festival

Austin McWilliams had recently earned his master's degree in choral conducting from Western Michigan University and was working for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra when COVID-19 abruptly ended all musical activity within a few days. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, McWilliams remembers getting the news that other schools were shutting rehearsals down, and after one final choral rehearsal, so were his. It was quite a blow. The much-anticipated performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion was going to bring together hundreds professional and student performers just before Easter for a work which hadn't been presented in decades. 

courtesy photo

Our Lady's Consort is an undergraduate choir at the University of Notre Dame. On Friday, Feb 21 at 7 pm at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo, the group will perform on the Sacred Music at the Cathedral series. The first half of the free program will be sung in Latin; the second, in English. Cara Lieurance talks to Howard Eckdahl, the doctoral student music director of Our Lady's Consort, for a preview.

courtesy of the artist

Song On The Times is the newest album from the a cappella quartet Windborne, which performs at 3:30 pm on Sunday, Nov 10 at Gull Lake United Methodist Church in Richland, MI. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Jeremy Carter-Gordon talks about the themes of freedom, equality, and justice that unite the songs on the album, some of which date back 400 years. 

A portion of the proceeds from the concert will go to the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home Foundation.