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Participants in the choral music program perform in concert at the Eglise St. Esprit.
idyllic landscape of southern France is the setting for a special
University of Delaware program that has brought American choral music
students together with young conducting professionals for a
one-of-a-kind experience that emphasizes reaching beyond the notes on
the page to find the philosophical and sociological depth that lies
behind each musical gesture.
The University of Delaware Choral Academy Summer Symposium
Program, which began June 28 and concludes July 17, combines a musically
challenging experience with the beauty and culture of Aix-en-Provence.
The academy uniquely brings singers and conducting scholars together to
produce memorable concerts of classic choral music for the French
The Choral Academy program presents an exceptional opportunity for
students and friends of the UD community to engage in an immersive,
experiential program unlike any other of its kind, said Paul Head, UDs
director of choral studies and incoming chair of UD's Department of
Music. It was originally created as an opportunity for UD students to
have an international music experience with extended reach beyond the
University as an inclusive environment for the training of young
conductors. The outgrowth of this has become a robust, interactive
program bringing music, culture and the human condition to life for
diverse groups of students, alumni friends and music appreciators to
come together and celebrate the joy of music.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
UD President Dennis Assanis and his wife, Eleni, meet with Paul Head and the Choral Academy students.
In support of the program, UD President Dennis Assanis and his wife,
Eleni, paid a visit to the Choral Academy in Aix-en-Provence. Music and
the arts are among our critical educational priorities at the
University, Assanis said. It has been truly rewarding to see the
momentum we are gaining through programs such as the Choral Academy.
This applies not only to the enriching educational experience for our
students but also the opportunity to connect the University of Delaware
with international audiences. We are growing our footprint beyond UD,
and we are so grateful for the support we receive from our beloved
alumni and friends of the University.
This years program includes 26 UD students and 22 University alumni,
as well as 27 students from other institutions, including Westminster
Choir College, University of Southern California and Texas Tech, coming
from 23 different states. In addition, five professional choral
conductors and eight conducting scholars are participating.
All participants singers and conductors both were selected by
audition, with singers selected based on choral experience and vocal
ability. At the academy, singers and conductors rehearse daily, and
conducting scholars attend seminars on such topics as rehearsal
pedagogy, score study and conducting gesture. The schedule also includes
sightseeing tours and excursions to explore and enjoy the many delights
of the region.
Choral Academy students sing outdoors as they enjoy southern France.
Capping the academy are five public
concerts in beautiful historic venues: Cathedrale St. Sauveur, a
national monument of France dating back to the 12th century; Eglise St.
Esprit, an 18th century cathedral that is one of Frances national
heritage sites; and the Abbaye de Silvacane, a former monastery dating
from the 12th century. The concert repertoire includes works across a
wide repertoire -- from Bach, Handel and Faure to African-American
spirituals and folk songs to standards from the American songbook.
Emily Fareed, a rising sophomore and music major in UDs College of
Arts and Sciences, shared perspective on her experience so far: This
experience has been both magical and unifying. The people participating
in the Choral Academy are not just reading notes on a page; the music
is very special and connects with our hearts and souls. And that
experience is informed by very careful choices the music, the
composers, the meaning and the relevance, all of it comes together in
through an inexplicable connection that is very moving.
Alessandra Alcala, a rising senior at University of Montana, Missoula
who is participating in the program, added, There is honestly nothing
like this experience that was created by the University of Delaware. You
feel the shared purpose of the program as soon as you meet everyone on
the first day. Our best moments are when we are singing to each other,
and the opportunity to do so in France is very liberating. Through every
piece we sing, I discover something new the text, the harmonies, the
composers vision. I came here curious, and I will leave with a renewed
inspiration about my future with a clarity and focus I did not have
Participating in this program in a different country, you wonder if
language will be a barrier, Fareed said. However, we have all quickly
learned that there are no obstacles in speaking or understanding English
or French because music is a universal language, and I have met so many
amazing people who have inspired me.
Head, who is Unidel Distinguished Professor of Music at UD, is
leading the program, whose faculty includes such distinguished musicians
as Richard Bjella, professor emeritus from Texas Tech University; Duane
Cottrell, associate professor of choral studies at UD; and Andrew
Kreckmann, director of choral activities at the Sacramento State
University School of Music.
Article by University of Delaware staff; photos by Chad Zullinger and Glenn Carter