Chamber Singers to Present Concert Before Leaving for England

The UT Chamber Singers ensemble will be traveling to England later this month to perform in some of the country’s most historic and best-known cathedrals.

The trip is the third choral sojourn for the group. In 2012, they traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland to perform in some that area’s most famous cathedrals. They went to Carnegie Hall in 2007.

To kick off their upcoming England trip, the singers will present a free farewell concert for the community at 8:00 p.m. on July 16 in Farragut Presbyterian Church, 209 Jamestowne Boulevard.

The concert, entitled “Across the Pond,” will feature selections from the Anglican genre of Choral Evensong, which includes such musical forms as Preces and Responses, a call-and-response form of singing. This choral genre also includes the chanting of psalms by the choir, a practice that dates back centuries. The musical elements of Choral Evensong have been written by hundreds of composers.

The forty-six-member chorus departs on July 18 for their thirteen-day United Kingdom adventure, during which they will have a twelve-day residency filled with rehearsals and singing during cathedral Chorale services at several famed venues—historic Canterbury Cathedral and Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London. They also will perform a benefit concert at Saint Peter’s Anglican Church in Canterbury, with the proceeds going to the cost of restoring church windows damaged by Nazi bombs during World War II.

“As in 2012, we will have a few students who are traveling abroad for the first time. This is such a wonderful opportunity for them—to see some historic places, experience another culture, and perform in some of the most well-known venues in the world,” said Angela Batey, professor and associate dean for diversity in the College of Arts and Sciences, who coordinated the trip. Batey conducts the Chamber Singers, teaches conducting courses at the graduate levels, and is widely recognized as a prominent conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and teacher.

“All of our students will come home full of stories and photos, as well as valuable life lessons learned along the way,” Batey added.

In preparation for the trip, students were invited to take a course called Cultural Studies of England this past spring. The class helped them become familiar with the geography of Great Britain, and students understand the economic, political, religious, and philosophical differences between Great Britain and the United States. Students learned about British language and cultural practices along with the artistic genres of Choral Evensong and Psalmody.

“A little advance preparation goes a long way,” Batey said. “It gives students context that helps them more fully understand and enjoy the experience.”

While in England, the ensemble will perform nearly forty pieces of music, including compositions by British and American composers. A special feature will be the premiere of Canticles in C by UT alumnus David Pegel in Canterbury Cathedral. The canticles were composed specifically for the Chamber Singers and Batey. His choral anthem “Love” will be premiered at Westminster Abbey.

Batey said the trip underscores UT’s commitment to provide opportunities for students to broaden their horizons by experiencing the culture of another country. It is also an example of Experience Learning, UT’s new initiative that encourages using classroom learning while engaging in real-world activities.

As in past years, the Chamber Singers’ trip will be the subject of a documentary.

Two members of UT’s Video and Photography Center will travel with the choral group to collect film to produce a documentary. The same team filmed the UT choral group’s Ireland trip and Carnegie Hall performance.

The documentary produced from the trip will be featured on UT’s website and social media channels, and also may be shown on Knoxville’s East Tennessee PBS channel.

CONTACT:

Russ Hollingsworth, UT’s Video and Photography Center (traveling with the group) (865-974-0977, russ.hollingsworth@tennessee.edu)

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)