Only 24 choirs from around the world chosen for this triennial international festival
HOUSTON, January 7, 2019 – Houston Chamber Choir has been selected to participate in the prestigious World Symposium on Choral Music 2020 (WSCM2020), to be held in Auckland, New Zealand July 11-18, 2020, where 24 of the best choral ensembles in the world will perform. The festival, held every three years in different locations across the globe, received a record 179 entries this year. This is the first such invitation for the Houston Chamber Choir, which was notified of the honor right before Christmas.
“The opportunity to represent our City, our State and our Nation at this gathering of the world’s top choirs has long been a dream of mine,” says Robert Simpson, Founder and Artistic Director of the Houston Chamber Choir. “Now that we have achieved this lofty goal, I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude to the musicians, staff and board whose dedication and talents have propelled us to this level. This is truly a Team Win.”
The World Symposium on Choral Music is the peak global event of the International Federation for Choral Music – its own “Olympics” and world congress rolled into one. Drawing together the leading choirs, conductors, composers and administrators from all over the planet for a superlative experience of concerts, seminars and workshops, the Symposium has also come to be a public showcase for the best the choral world has to offer.
The theme for WSCM2020 is “People of the Land,” or “tangata whenua,” the name the indigenous Maori use of themselves and a concept that sits at the heart of New Zealand culture. The tangata whenua are guardians of the country’s natural resources, environment and sustainability – values and priorities shared by all New Zealanders, regardless of race.
“People and the Land” will be explored through choral music as the relationship humans have with the land that supports them: the sense of identity they derive from it and the tensions that arise out of it. The festival organizers hope this will be interpreted “freely and with flair” by participating choirs, encouraging them to draw from a broad range of repertoire and styles in their programming.
Houston Chamber Choir will perform two major pieces at the Symposium, one that is 45 minutes in length and the other about 25 minutes. Simpson says the music selections are still to be determined, but they will reflect the “People of the Land” theme. Additionally, the Choir will extend its stay and perform concerts outside of Auckland, to gain even greater exposure abroad. They will work with a concert promoter from Australia on venue selection.
“I was absolutely thrilled to hear Houston Chamber Choir was selected to perform at the World Symposium on Choral Music 2020!” says soprano Kelli Lawless of the Houston Chamber Choir. “I can't wait to represent Houston on the world stage in Auckland, New Zealand. I'm so proud to be a member of this organization that just keeps raising its standard of excellence year after year.”
“Being invited to the World Symposium on Choral Music in 2020 is such an honor,” says Houston Chamber Choir member, soprano Kammi Estelle, who is the twin sister of Lawless. “Representing the Houston arts community, as well as the United States, will be an experience that the artists in the Houston Chamber Choir will never forget.”
Houston Chamber Choir continues to be recognized for its outstanding work. In 2018, the organization received the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America, the advocacy, research and leadership development organization that advances the choral field. In 2015, the Choir received The American Prize for best choral performance in the country, and Simpson took home the award in the conducting category.