Welcome to the Vocal/Choral area of the School of Music. We have a long tradition of excellence dating back to our first performance of Handel's Messiah over one hundred years ago. Singers at Central Michigan University have a wide variety of performing opportunities through choirs and performance and music education degree programs. Enrollment in Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Women's Chorus, Men's Barbershop, and Festival Chorus is open to all university students by audition. Auditions are held on the evening prior to select freshman orientation sessions (see following list) and during the week prior to the start of classes in August. Alternately, students may contact conductors to schedule an appointment to audition for their respective choirs. In addition, Festival Chorus and Men's Barbershop are available without enrollment credit to faculty, staff, and members of the greater Central Michigan community. Our students have sung all over the United States, Europe, and China. Our faculty are highly trained, widely experienced, and committed to helping students attain their full potential as singers and artists. Private study with voice professors is available to those who apply and are accepted as music majors or minors.
2013 Summer Choral Audition Dates
- Will be posted January 2013
Women’s Chorus, under the direction of Dr. Alan Gumm since 2000, quickly gained recognition in the region as a choral ensemble of great finesse and artistry, with invitations to premiere several new works and to perform with the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra, Saginaw Choral Society, and with other women’s choruses around the state. A Saginaw News music critic commented on “the group’s clear sound, excellent vocal technique and magnificent tuning. The musical lines were beautifully shaped. This was expressive singing at its finest.” Works recently performed include Mozart’s Alleluia and Marriage of Figaro (jazz arrangement), Brahms’ Four Songs for Women, Harp, and Horns , and treble portions of Vivaldi’s Gloria , Randall Thompson Frostiana , and Holst’s The Planets with the CMU orchestra. Their repertoire has extended to include jazz standards such as Take Five and Mood Indigo , gospel numbers, spirituals, and arrangements of songs from cultures and countries around the world.
Concert Choir, directed by Dr. Nina Nash-Robertson, Director of Choral Activities, is an ensemble of 75-100 students whose majors represent a variety of specialties within the university. In addition to annual Fall, Winter (Juletide) and Spring concerts, they also join with the Festival Chorus and Symphony Orchestra for an annual performance of a major choral/orchestral work. This group also performs regularly with the Midland Symphony Orchestra. In addition to all the music performed with the Festival chorus, in recent years this group has also performed Berlioz Romeo et Juliette , Beethoven Ninth Symphony , Mahler Second Symphony , Verdi Requiem, and Vaughan Williams Mystical Songs and in the opera Die Fledermaus . The group also performs shorter choral works of all genres, including spirituals, folk-song arrangements, contemporary masterworks, and multi-cultural choral literature. In 2005 the Concert Choir performed Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem in Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphony Orchestra and five other choirs, with Nina Nash-Robertson conducting. In 2003, the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers joined for a 10-day tour of China with concerts in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. In March, 2007, they will perform Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece War Requiem in De Vos Hall, Grand Rapids, with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
Chamber Singers, directed by Nina Nash-Robertson, is CMU’s most highly selective ensemble of 20-30 singers, primarily upperclassmen and graduate students. Chamber Singers performs the highest quality music of all periods, but they focus on the a cappella literature of the Renaissance and other choral chamber music. Recent works include the Bach Lobet Den Herrn , Haydn Lord Nelson Mass , Mozart Magnificat , Brahms Zigeunerlieder and Liebeslieder Walzes , Ravel Trois Chansons , and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music . Chamber Singers has also been honored to sing the premier performance of many new choral works, perform at regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference, and have performed in Ireland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Austria, and China. Their May, 2007, concert tour to Ireland and France included performances in Dublin’s St Patricks’ Cathedral, La Madeleine in Paris, and Chartres Cathedral. The Chamber Singers are also pleased to host the annual Vocal Chamber Music Day where guests have included Chanticleer, the Kings Singers, Cantus, and the Brazeal Dennard Ensemble.
Men’s Barbershop, directed by composition professor Dr. David Gillingham, is associated with the national Barbershop Society under the name MountainTown Singers , performs in the community and around the state, and competes in Barbershop Society events. The group won its way to international competition in 2007-2008, its third year of existence. It is open to university students by audition and enrollment (does not count for music major/minor ensemble requirement) and to community men by audition and membership fee. Gillingham arranges many of the ensemble’s selections, in traditional Barbershop harmonic style.
Festival Chorus is directed by Nina Nash-Robertson. In a long tradition of “town and gown” choirs, Festival Chorus draws students, faculty, staff, and community members together in the fall semester to perform larger masterworks for chorus, soloists, and orchestra. Major choral/orchestral works performed in recent years have included Brahms and Mozart Requiem, Bernstein Chichester Psalms , Copland Old American Songs , Vivaldi and Poulenc Gloria , Handel Messiah , and Mozart Requiem . Members of the Festival Chorus recently performed Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem in Carnegie Hall.
Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Directed by Alan Gumm, Vocal Jazz Ensemble (VJE) specializes in the study, rehearsal, and performance of historical and contemporary vocal jazz music.
The course of study includes ensemble development and vocal improvisation in a variety of styles.
VJE is part of the CMU jazz program, performing regularly with one of CMU's big bands, with rhythm section, and a cappella.
VJE is open by audition to any student in the university, with auditions held at the end of each semester for the next semester’s enrollment.