Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Please take a moment to read the "Overview of SMC Choirs" (see tab above). There is one audition for all choirs which is an assessment of your musical "ear" (how accurately can you sing back a melody that is played for you), your general technical ability (quality of your voice and ability to blend/sing flexibly), and your ability to sing harmonies (hold your part against another part). You need to have a basic ability to follow sheet music and the resourcefulness to learn your music outside of class. RETURNING STUDENTS: unless you sang in the touring choir we need you to re-audition - we need returning students to SIGN-UP for an appt. 6-9pm on MON, Sep 1 by visiting this link: CLICK HERE.

Auditions for Fall: Tue, Sep 2, 4:45pm, Art Rm 105
STEP ONE - sign-up for a "new student" audition time online: Click here. There may be some available slots on Mon, Sep 1, between 6-9pm: if you need that time, please email me at julie@julieford.org. (If you are unable to sign-up now for whatever reason, you can sign-up during the first day of class).

STEP TWO - download a PDF of the audition piece, Shambala, and learn the voice part you wish to sing in your audition (sop, alto, tenor, or bass; we typically need more altos than sopranos, so if you can audition as an alto please do so).

STEP THREE - Attend the open rehearsal: we will go over "Shambala" together, mostly singing by rote.  You'll then hear about the semester and meet the directors and returning singers. We'll conclude after about thirty minutes and then commence with one-on-one audition appointments.

What occurs in the audition (one auditionee sings for a panel of three: the director, the assistant director, and one advanced returning student).
1 - vocal warm up with the director (up and down a mini-scale on "la-la", etc); this helps us hear the quality and range of your voice
2 - sing a simple harmony with one other person
3 - listen to a series of three pitches and sing them back accurately. These get increasingly challenging to allow us to test the limits of your musical memory and discernment of intervals.
4 - sing any piece of your choosing, a cappella, that is 60 seconds long. Any style is fine. If you have no idea what to sing, we will have you sing "happy birthday to you."
5 - sing your part on the piece provided (PDF of Shambala - see link above) along with another singer or two.
6 - we thank you and send you on your way. Those who are ready to sing in the choir will be invited to call-backs BY EMAIL (and results will be posted here on the blog on Sep 4 or 5). Those who we think need more training to prepare for choir will be advised to first take a beginning voice or piano or musicianship class as a starting point, with encouragement to re-audition in the spring.

QUESTION - What if I want to start looking the Chamber Singers call back piece ahead of time? ANSWER - you may do so. It is "Mekletaja" (a Latvian carol) which will be sung on neutral text (e.g. la, la, la) for the audition.  To download a copy of Mekletaja, click here-  (JUST FIXED THIS LINK so it should work now!).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chamber Singers & Glee Club each earn GOLD MEDALS at World Choir Games

A letter from Martin Rokeach, Chair of Music Program at SMC:

Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Saint Mary’s College Choirs,

On Sunday night the Saint Mary’s College Chamber Singers and Glee Club proudly returned from the World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia, each with their own respective Gold Medal. It is difficult to convey the stimulation, intensity and gratification of the experience. Our students joined 460 choirs and over 27,000 singers from 73 nations around the globe.

Before departing for Latvia choir members returned to campus for three days of full-time, high-intensity rehearsal. Though their spring concert in the chapel was excellent, the Glee Club and Chamber Singers surpassed themselves by the time their plane left the ground. But even after arriving in Europe, directors Julie Ford and Sharon Kim gently pushed them to continue working and sharpening their performing skills. By the time their two capstone concerts took place in front of audiences of about 400 each they were not the same ensembles you heard two months earlier. What a pleasure to see our students push themselves to their very limit.

Musical standards at the Choir Games were very high, weak ensembles were not invited to participate. Competing against fifty-five other choirs in the Mixed Chamber category, the SMC Chamber Singers’ stunning 20-minute performance earned a Gold Medal, placing them among the top eight ensembles. In the Popular Music category, our Glee Club competed against twenty-nine other choirs. Their 4-song set was, to my ear, flawless --  the only time in my 30-year teaching career I couldn’t find a single detail to improve. They also also garnered a Gold Medal, placing among the top six ensembles.

Despite the highly competitive nature of the games there was a spirit of intercultural warmth and friendship. Song was in the air. Choirs that couldn’t speak the same language sang together and applauded for one another in parks and on buses. Saint Mary’s students spontaneously “jammed” with choir members from Venezuela, Uganda and China.

I am so impressed with our thirty students, each one a delightful soul. They are:

Miguel Angeles, Zachary Barbieri, Michael Blackburn, Marissa Catabingan, Rebecca Capriulo, Isabella Cha, Daniele Citti, Bryce Cloke, Brandon English, Angelica Estrella, Lindsay Ford, Sarah Gleason, Peter Kenton, Erin Kinda, Jeffery Klink, Maddi Larsen, Angelina Mafi, Conor Maher, Felicia McPhaul, Alexandra Miller, Bailey Minardi, Angelo Montero, Katelyn Russell, Delaney Scott, Lucas Shimizu, Andrew Smyth, Shawn Tachovsky, Thinus Venter, Emily Wallace,andAngelica Whaley.

For many of them it was their first trip outside the U.S., and they were thrilled and grateful. After landing in Helsinki they had a tour of the city, and then a 2-hour ferry ride across the Baltic took them to Tallinn, Estonia’s beautiful capital. One singer described the 800-year old medieval section of the city like “stepping into a Disney storybook.” They toured Tallinn, spent time on their own, and then gave a concert to an appreciative Estonian audience. After a long bus ride to neighboring Latvia they not only performed but also toured the city of Riga and enjoyed a fair amount of free time there. In both Estonia and Latvia they gained a sense of centuries past and also recent Soviet history, vividly conveyed by our guides.

Tremendous compliments go to Choral Director Julie Ford and Assistant Director Sharon Kim. Both are superb musicians, teachers, people-managers, and passionately hard workers. Our students and the College are blessed to have them on the faculty. We are also very grateful to Cathy Davalos for all her movement coaching.

Planning for the trip seemed endless and could never have happened without the dedication and attention to detail of Frank Murray and Jeanne DeMatteo. The Performing Arts Department is so grateful for the support of Steve Woolpert and Beth Dobkin, what an impact their devotion to the arts made both to our program and each individual student. Finally, many of our singers could never have attended without considerable financial assistance. Thanks, double thanks, and triple thanks to Lisa Moore of the Development Office and our generous donors: Br. Mel Anderson, Br. Dominic Berardelli, Jonathan and Kathy Clarke, Bill and Sandi Feaster, Rand Morimoto, Ron and Mary Olowin, Carole Swain, and the late (and sorely missed) Diana Wu and her husband George.

Congratulations singers and deepest thanks to all!

Martin Rokeach, Music Program Director
Performing Arts Department