Choir represents Texas in Wales

A trip to Europe to perform at a renowned music festival was not enough for members of UH Concert Chorale. They wanted to prove they were among the best.

Consider that mission accomplished, as Concert Chorale won the Chamber Chorus division at the 2009 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales. The group added a second place finish in the Mixed Choir competition and third in Youth Chorus and Folk Song Chorus to complete a successful competition.

The judges verbally praised the choir, addressing the audience with words such as ‘exquisite’ and ‘superb.’ Concert Chorale Director Betsy Weber felt the judges enjoyed the group’s selection of American texts.

‘They clearly loved a lot of our repertoire and seemed particularly interested in (Moores School of Music Director) David Ashley White’s ‘I Saw Eternity,’ a new piece by Washington composer Eric Barnum, ‘The Sounding Sea,’ and an old chestnut, ‘If I Got a Ticket,’ arranged by Robert Shaw,’ Weber said. ‘These were all American composers on American texts.’

Weber said the highlight of the trip was watching the Concert Chorale members sing with confidence under the pressure of cameras and a large, knowledgeable audience.

‘I will never ever forget that feeling of watching those young singers pull this off,’ Weber said.

Individual members of Concert Chorale also executed well in solo competition.

Vocal performance sophomore Ashley Johnson placed second in the Vocal Solo (age 15-20) category, while vocal performance junior Lazaro Estrada finished third in Songs from the Shows category.

Johnson said she was overwhelmed by the experience, but had plenty of encouragement.

‘It was an absolutely phenomenal experience,’ Johnson said. ‘I performed for more than 1,000 people, including the other members of the UH Concert Chorale in the audience who cheered me on. I was terribly nervous, but once I got on stage, it was exhilarating.’

Concert Chorale members represented UH and the U.S. in the opening ceremony, in which Chancellor Renu Khator was present in the audience. They also represented Texas, donning shirts with the state flag.

‘The festival required that we wore a national costume while on the grounds,’ vocal performance sophomore Elizabeth Sharonov said. ‘Seeing as how there were other groups from the U.S. participating in the festival, we decided to represent Texas.’

Aside from the successful results, the competition gave Concert Chorale members a lasting memory.

‘Performing as a soloist in such a prestigious festival felt like a dream,’ vocal performance sophomore Meghan Wilhelm said. ‘It was an honor to be representing UH and the U.S.

The festival was something I will never forget in my entire life.’

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