This popular annual program by the Chamber Singers, University Chorale, University Singers, Women's Choir, Gospel Choir, and UW Men's Glee Club, features seven conductors, six choral ensembles, five hundred singers, four graduate conductors, three choral faculty, two hours of great music, and one impressive grand finale.
Geoffrey Boers, Chamber Singers
Geoffrey Boers is Director of Choral Activities at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he is the Mary K. Shepman Endowed Professor of Music. Under his direction, the choral program at the University of Washington has grown to include nearly twenty graduate choral conductors each year, as well as nine ensembles conducted by five faculty and many graduate students, with nearly 600 singers participating.
Geoffrey conducts the UW Chamber Singers, the university's premier ensemble of graduate and advanced singers. The Chamber Singers performs nationally and internationally, most recently having returned from Hungary for a concert tour. Last Spring, the choir performed Monteverdi's rarely heard masterpiece, 1610 Vespers. He also teaches graduate choral conducting and choral pedagogy, and serves as faculty advisor as part of the graduate choral curriculum. He is the recipient of the University of Washington's prestigious Royalty Research Foundation Grant, which allowed him to travel to the Baltic region and to establish the UW Baltic Choral Music Library, the first of its kind in the United States.
Geoffrey maintains an active conducting, teaching, workshop and clinic schedule. Recent engagements have taken him to Australia, mainland China, Thailand, Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall, and Kennedy Center, where he serves as Artistic Director for the Washington D.C. Choral Festival. He especially enjoys working with conductors and their choirs with focus on building communication through gesture and expressivity, and building community within the ensemble. Geoffrey is also exploring the idea spirare, or the connection between breath and spirit, in disciplines as far reaching as Yoga , Tai Chi and world faith systems. This study is leading to evolving thoughts of gesture as it relates to breath, evocation of sound, and touching the heart.
In addition to his position at the UW, Boers is the conductor of the Tacoma Symphony Chorus and will conduct the Tacoma Symphony in numerous performances this season.
Giselle Wyers, University Chorale
Giselle Wyers is the Donald E. Petersen Associate Endowed Professor of Choral Music at the University of Washington, where she conducts the University Chorale and teaches courses in choral conducting and voice. University Chorale's debut CD,Climb, won third prize in the collegiate division of the American Prize for Choral Performance in 2012, and their CD Refuge is currently in the finals for the same award. University Chorale's 2008 performance of the Genesis Suite with Seattle Symphony was termed "brilliant" by the Seattle Times.
Under her direction, University Chorale has enjoyed high profile performances for the President of Latvia as well as the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. The chorus tours regularly; recent trips have taken them to San Francisco as well as Estonia, Finland and Latvia. They have collaborated in performances with Seattle Symphony Spring and Holiday POPS (2015), National Medalist of the Arts Ann Hamilton, British singer-songwriter Imogen Heap, the national touring company of It Gets Better, and Sapience Dance Collective.
As a guest conductor, Wyers has led high school honor choirs and all-state choruses in New York (Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center), Georgia, Connecticut, Nebraska, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Vancouver, Canada. She has conducted semi-professional ensembles across the United States and in Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, and Sweden.
Wyers is a leading national figure in the application of Laban movement theory for conductors. Each summer she team-teaches choral conducting with James Jordan at Westminster Choir College, and has led workshops on Laban across the United States. She has published two substantive articles on the subject, both published through GIA Publications in the textbooks Music for Conducting Study (Jordan/Wyers) and The Conductor's Gesture: The Language of Movement (Jordan/Wyers).
Wyers’ choral works are published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing Company as part of the "Giselle Wyers Choral Series," and have been performed in the United States, Canada, Cuba, and across Europe. She has been commissioned by such choruses as Chamber Choir of Europe, A Capella Koor Cantabile of Netherlands, Choral Arts Ensemble, Dolce Canto Chamber Choir, Georgia Tech Chamber Singers, University of Tennessee Men’s Chorus, Cambridge Chamber Singers, Cascadian Chorale, Cantori Chamber Singers of William and Hobart Smith Colleges, and Central Bucks HS choir in Pennsylvania.
Wyers' dedication to exposing audiences to the music of contemporary American composers has led to publications in various national journals. She is especially interested in exploring how modern composers use music as a form of peace-making and social justice. "Waging Peace through Intercultural Art in Kyr's Ah Nagasaki," appears as the cover article of the May 2008 Choral Journal, and discusses how the act of creating and premiering a musical work can serve as a gesture of reconciliation between cultures. Her professional vocal ensemble Solaris specializes in the performance of contemporary American choral literature, and they have released a full album on Albany Records.
Wyers holds a D.M.A. in conducting from the University of Arizona, where she studied with Maurice Skones, and minored in historical musicology with John Brobeck. She earned a master's degree from Westminster Choir College, where she founded the Greater Princeton Youth Chamber Orchestra, and a bachelor's degree from UC Santa Cruz, where she founded the San Lorenzo Valley Community Chorus and Orchestra.
Phyllis Byrdwell, Gospel Choir
Phyllis Byrdwell, director of the UW Gospel Choir, is Minister of Music at Mount Zion Baptist Church of Seattle and also a music educator for Lakeside School. She has conducted several seminar workshops on Gospel music throughout Washington state and nationally, and served as a songleader for the Baptist World Alliance conference in Birmingham, England in 2005.
Byrdwell was inducted into the Washington Music Educators Association's Hall of Fame in 2002 and serves on the Seattle Symphony Board of Directors.
A School of Music alumna, she holds a bachelor's degree in music and bachelor's and master's degrees in music education.