A Night of Musical Excellence

by Briauhnna A. Phelps

To the delight and awe of their family and friends, the Azusa Pacific University Chamber Singers took the stage at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena on Friday, January 28.

Led by Michelle Jensen, M.M., who has conducted the group since 2000, the concert served as a platform for the group to share their gifts and love of music, and as Jensen’s recital for her doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Southern California.

“I was absolutely blown away by the sound,” said Robert Hernandez, a photography major from the Art Institute of Hollywood. “I was asked to photograph the group by a friend and thought nothing of it, like it would be just another choir concert. But then they began to sing, and I couldn’t believe the sound that was coming from such a relatively small ensemble. It was a touch of heaven.”

The ensemble, which has a reputation of the highest level of musicianship, performed Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices and Morten Lauridsen’s Mid-Winter Songs, a cycle that celebrated its 21st anniversary in orchestral form the night of the concert. They ended the evening with the classic hymn Were You There? as well as an encore performance of Sydney Guillaume’s Twa Tanbou, one of the ensemble’s favorite pieces from this year’s repertoire.

“What I love about being in Chamber Singers is our ability to sing very different types of music back-to-back and well,” said April Overholt ’11. “We can make the transition from Renaissance to 21st-century compositions, which have very different sounds and require different types of vocal technique.”

Friday night’s ensemble was a very special collection of current Chamber Singers members and alumni. “In the choir, I have at least one member from every year I’ve conducted Chamber Singers,” Jensen explained. The orchestra was also composed of the finest musicians, many of whom are concertmasters and first chairs in their respective ensembles.

“It was such an honor to perform with musicians of that caliber,” said Ray Fairly ’11. “They brought such a strength and beauty to the Lauridsen cycle. It was a true blessing.”

The members of Chamber Singers attribute their professionalism and excellence to Jensen. “Working with Michelle is a dream come true,” said Aubree Stansbury ’09. “She is incredibly knowledgeable and pushes us to be our best.”

“Michelle is constantly reinforcing a work ethic in us that will help us succeed both as musicians and as productive members of society,” added Christopher Roney ’09.

In April, Chamber Singers will present another full concert entitled “The Land I Love.” For more information about Chamber Singers or other School of Music ensembles, visit www.apu.edu/music/ensembles.