UNL Chamber Singers to perform in Oxford

Chamber Singers
Chamber Singers

UNL Chamber Singers to perform in Oxford

calendar icon24 Jul 2013    

The UNL Chamber Singers have been invited to perform at the Conference of the Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) in Oxford, U.K., in August and will be attending with support from the Hixson-Lied Endowment, Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and the School of Music.

The 25-member vocal ensemble provides a chamber vocal experience for singers and is under the direction of Associate Professor of Choral Music Therees Hibbard.

“We’re a small group who sings mostly a cappella pieces, and we sing classical repertoire, but we also do some really cool new things, some cutting edge things,” said Matt Heng, a senior advertising and public relations major from York, Neb., who is in his second year with the Chamber Singers. “Being a non-major, it’s a great experience to be surrounded by all these people who are so great at what they’re doing.”

Hibbard is excited about the invitation to perform.

“I feel like I was brought here to bring some of the world I have experienced to Nebraska because I’m definitely not a Midwest girl—though I’m learning” said Hibbard, who worked for 12 years as a choral conductor, performer, singing tutor and senior lecturer in the London area prior to coming to UNL in 2005. “But now it’s our turn to take Nebraska to the world, or at least a little part of it.”

The Chamber Singers will be one of four choirs to perform at the final Gala Concert, and the only international choir singing at the convention, as well as the only American university choir selected. In addition to performing at the convention, the Chamber Singers will serve as the demonstration choir for several conductors’ masterclasses and interest sessions. Prior to the conference, they will perform on tour at several prestigious concert venues in Great Britain, including St. James’ Church in Piccadilly, London; Ely Cathedral in Cambridge; and St. Bride’s Church on Fleet St., in London.

“I think it will make them aware that beautiful singing happens in amazing spaces and places everywhere,” Hibbard said. “Love of music and love of singing is what draws people together from all over the world.”

She has several sites in mind to show the choir while they are there.

“I hope to take them to the Handel House, where he wrote the ‘Messiah’ and to take them to the British Library to see a copy of Mozart’s work and a copy of Beethoven’s work—one is perfect, and one is a mess,” she said. “Just to let them have the full experience, and we’ll sing, sing, sing. When you come to a country to share music, you always leave gathering much more because you bring something to the people, rather than just being a simple tourist.”

Laura Gregoski, of Upland, Neb, graduated in May with her Bachelor of Music in Education. She has been a member of the Chamber Singers since her sophomore year, is looking forward to representing the University at the Conference.

“Being selected to perform at a music conference is a great honor, and I’m very thankful that the school and the college are helping us in this endeavor,” Gregoski said. “It’s not every day that a small-town girl like me gets the opportunity to go to England.”

Heng is looking forward to getting closer with the members of the Chamber Singers.

“I’m looking forward to being there with a group that’s as close as we are. When we’re together, we’re working,” he said. “So for me, I’m really looking forward to going over there and getting to have this great experience with other people that I know care about what we’re doing as much as I do.”

Hibbard plans to present a variety of work in England, featuring both American music and some classical pieces, including a piece by Nebraska composer David Foltz (“She Walks in Beauty”) and a new piece by School of Music alumnus Kurt Knecht.

“We’ll take the things that make us uniquely us,” Hibbard said.

The Chamber Singers are recognized as artists-in-residence at Sheldon and perform there twice a semester.

“It is absolutely amazing to perform in Sheldon,” Heng said. “Dr. Hibbard says the Sheldon is the extra member of our group. We like performing in other places, but when we’re in the Sheldon, we get a special sound. It’s pretty magical.”

At the conference, they will perform on the Saturday evening Gala concert in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

“It is a wonderful coincidence that our singers will bring their unique sounds from our Sheldon Museum to the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford,” Hibbard said. “We hope the similar names of these beautiful performing spaces will make us feel very much at home as we sing.”