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Tag: Pacific Lutheran University


Normanna Male Chorus of Tacoma hosts the 104th annual Sangerfest of all-male Norwegian choruses at Pacific Lutheran University

There aren’t too many musical traditions around here that go back 104 years, but the Sangerfest is one of them. An annual get-together of Norwegian male choirs from up and down the West Coast, the Sangerfest has been going since 1903 (with a few breaks) and this year the Normanna Male Chorus of Tacoma is the host choir, with a public choral concert this Friday at Pacific Lutheran University.

“The tradition of male chorus singing is very strong in Norway,” explains NMC director Jon Malmin. “Most villages have a chorus. And when the immigrants came over here they wanted to keep up that tradition.”

And they have. The 29-member Normanna Male Chorus is celebrating 125 years, having begun in 1888 as a Parkland chorus that later merged with a Tacoma chorus. And while the tradition used to be more widespread – at one point there were over 30 Norwegian male choruses in the region, Malmin says – there are still 11 Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association choruses, from Bellingham to San Diego, who’ll meet this week at PLU to sing and have fun. Read more »


Six youth choirs from the Northwest and Nairobi, Kenya, congregate in Tacoma this weekend for the first annual Youth Choir Festival Northwest at Pacific Lutheran University.

Six choirs of young people from as close as Gig Harbor and as far as Nairobi, Kenya, will meet and sing together this Saturday as part of the first annual Youth Choir Festival Northwest. Culminating the choral get-together will be a public concert at Pacific Lutheran University’s Lagerquist Hall, featuring all six choirs.

Designed for advanced middle school, high school and college choirs, the festival is the offshoot of the 14-year Fort Worden Children’s Choir Festival, which has hosted choirs from around the country to sing, learn and socialize together. The Fort Worden festival, which was held in May, also featured an African choir for the first time: the Makini Schools Children’s choir, also from Nairobi. In Tacoma, the Nairobi Girls’ Chorale (which has the same director, David Isindu) will participate and perform, staying at local homes and sightseeing. The choir has had recent internet success in Africa after a televised competition.

The cultural visit came after months of difficulty with visas, organizers said in a press release. “The U.S. government is especially cautious of allowing single, young adults into the country,” it said. Read more »


Science and music meet in Susan Botti’s “Cosmosis” at Pacific Lutheran University


Composer and soprano Susan Botti. Courtesy photo.
Composer and soprano Susan Botti. Courtesy photo.

Combining arts and sciences is getting trendy around Puget Sound these days – witness the Art+Science salons held by the University of Puget Sound at Tacoma Art Museum, the upcoming opera staged at the Pacific Science Center, combined art/science teacher trainings at the Foss Waterway Seaport, and the ‘science of art’ school programs at the Museum of Glass.

This weekend, Pacific Lutheran University adds their contribution with “Cosmosis,” a concert by the university’s wind ensemble and University Singers combining science, images, poetry and a science-based composition by Susan Botti.

“Music is built from scientific components – physics, acoustics… they dialogue naturally,” says Botti. “As a composer, I direct my attention to certain aspects of the world and add imagination and emotion, reflecting back some of what I perceive in the human experience.”

Botti’s a musician whose list of commissions as a composer (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra) is as impressive as her resume as a soprano (the Los Angeles Philharmonic, collaborations with conductor Tan Dun, premières with the BBC Scottish Symphony). The Cleveland native is currently on the composition faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and also teaches at Vassar.

She also performs many of her own compositions, and she’ll do just that on Saturday night. “Cosmosis” sets texts by American poet May Swenson on gravity and the Skylab experiment on Arabella, the first spider to spin a web in space. Read more »


Hear spirituals, gospel and American choral classics with Illumni Mens’ Chorale at PLU

Join the Illumni Mens Chorale this weekend in Seattle and Tacoma as they explore just what American music is, in concerts at Christ Episcopal in Seattle and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma

The program sweeps from Spanish Renaissance music written by Aztecs in Mexico City to 18th-century hymn writer William Billings, from “Deep River” to “Shenandoah” and from Rogers and Hammerstein to Morten Lauridsen, there’s something here for everyone, sung by the deep, resonant voices of the Seattle-based Illumni. Read more »


Celebrated opera baritone Sherill Milnes comes to Tacoma for public talks, workshop and fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program

Opera fans, rejoice: Sherill Milnes is coming to town. No, not to sing – the former opera superstar’s heyday was in the last quarter of the 20th century, and it was a big one, ranging over almost every baritone role in the repertoire and every major house on several continents. But Milnes will be giving four public events: one this Saturday at a interview meet-and-greet fundraiser for Tacoma Opera’s Young Artist program, free one-hour talks at both the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University next Monday, and a vocal workshop Monday night at UPS.


Read more »


Continuo conference and concerts bring the best in early music to Pacific Lutheran University next week.

Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Courtesy image.
Harpsichordist Byron Schenkman. Courtesy image.

Early music lovers, rejoice. Pacific Lutheran University is teaming up with the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies (based at Cornell University in New York) to hold its annual spring conference right here in Tacoma/Parkland, with workshops, presentations and no less than five concerts featuring the best in regional and national musicians, all open to the public.

The focus of this year’s conference is the art of continuo – the accompaniment line that underscores all baroque solos, constructed often from just a single bass line with “figures” (numbers indicating chords) to tell the musician which harmonies to play, and leaving the rest up to improvisation, collaboration and musical know-how. It’s tricky to learn, even trickier to do in performance, changing each time (rather like jazz, but 200 years older).

Among the presenters and clinicians are Edward Parmentier (University of Michigan), Charlotte Mattax Moersch (University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana), Gregory Crowell (editor, “Clavichord International”) and Seattle’s Stephen Stubbs (artistic director of Pacific Musicworks). Local students and professionals alike will benefit from the masterclasses, lectures and demonstrations offered next Friday and Saturday in PLU’s music buildings (see westfield.org to register).

But it’s the public concerts that are the real treat for the general public, offering a banquet of early music over five days (beginning next Thursday) from Haydn choral masses to recitals to Handel’s opera “Apollo and Daphne.” Here’s the line-up: Read more »


Critic’s Picks: Theater at PLU, choral and organ at Christ Episcopal Tacoma, Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet and Click Flick at the Grand

The Christ Church choir. Courtesy image.
The Christ Church choir. Courtesy image.

Organ recital and Lent evensong at Christ Church

Two musical events at Tacoma’s Christ Episcopal this week celebrate the beautiful Brombaugh organ and the wealth of Lenten choral music: an all-Bach organ recital by Naomi Shiga at noon today and choral evensong on Sunday with music by Byrd, Brahms and more. Recital: 12:10 p.m. today, entry by donation. Evensong: 5 p.m. March 17, free. Christ Episcopal Church,
310 N. K St.,
253-383-1569, ccptacoma.org

How I Learned to Drive” at PLU

Pacific Lutheran University’s school of drama continues the Pulitzer- and Obie-winning “How I Learned to Drive” this weekend. The Paula Vogel play set in the 1960s and’70s is sometimes described as one of the most disturbing love stories in theater, dealing with pedophilia, incest and misogyny. It’s presented as part of the university’s SOAC series on themes of empowerment in the arts. 7:30 p.m. today and March 16; 2 p.m. March 17. $8. Studio Theater, Phillips Center for Performing Arts, Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Ave. S., Tacoma. 253-535-7411plu.edu

Modern Masterpieces by Pacific Northwest Ballet Read more »


Critic’s Picks: Illumni Chorale at PLU, “Messiah,” Magical Strings at Rialto and Northwest Repertory Singers

Christmas with Illumni chorale at PLU

The Illumni Men’s Chorale present “An American Christmas,” with both traditional and brand-new carols premiering live on YouTube during the concert. Tickets are free, support for this can be given at christmasshouldbefree.org. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16. Lagerquist Hall, Pacific Lutheran University, 868 Wheeler St. S, Tacoma. 206-659-5894, illumnimenschorale.com

TSO Chorus sings a different “Messiah” Read more »