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Biola Chorale selected to perform

Students prepare for rare performance opportunity at upcoming conference.  |  John Uy/THE CHIMES


The Biola University Chorale proudly represented Biola’s music program at the American Choral Directors Association Western Division conference, a divisional music conference from Feb. 24-27. This is only the second time Biola has been selected to perform at a divisional convention, making this opportunity a significant honor for students.

One of Three

“In my 18 years, no other Christian college in California has been invited to sing at a divisional,” said Shawna Stewart, Biola Chorale conductor and director of choral activities. “We are one of three mixed-level ensembles to perform.”

The chorale performed their set in a preview concert on Feb. 21, along with the Tesoro High School Vocal Ensemble and the Fullerton College Chamber Singers, two groups also selected for the conference.

The ACDA conference features performances from choruses of all levels as well as notable speakers and music workshops. One of the most significant factors is the gathering of choral directors at the conference.

“We get to stand up there and sing for hundreds and hundreds of choral directors — the top choral directors in the west coast,” said Leanna Crenshaw, senior music performance major. “So this is a huge landmark for us and for the university.”

Encouraging Recognition

A successful performance from the chorale encourages other directors to spread the word about Biola, especially to prospective music students.

“On a practical level, this is a huge recruitment opportunity for us,” Stewart said. “There are around 900 choral conductors that will be there. For the high school, middle school and church choir conductors… this puts Biola on the map for them.”

However, it is clear this is not the chorale’s only objective. Stewart and the members of the chorale expressed that their main goal is to share the love of God through their musical performances.

Singing for the Same Purpose

“We talked about how everything we do on that stage is for the glory of God, and that meant a lot to me,” said Jared Hughes, junior music education major. “It was an amazing thing for me to realize that we were all singing for the same purpose.”

Their common goal, as well as their long practice hours together, allowed Biola’s Chorale to become a close-knit community. Although many members were simultaneously rehearsing for the Biola opera, they sacrificed time to work and prepare for the ACDA performance. As a result, they were able to develop a strong bond as a group.

“We’re just one family, a big family,” Crenshaw said. “A quirky, eccentric family.”

Meeting Mind and Heart

The program they performed included a diverse array of literature from multiple genres, time periods and countries. Expressing a variety of emotions and sounds, their selections include a Bach piece, “Das Lamm,” a spiritual, “In Dat Great Gittin’ Up Morning,” a song from the Philippines, “Kruhay,” and a modern piece titled “How Do I Love Thee?” composed by Biola graduate Trevor Gomes.

“My intent was to meet both the mind and the heart of the listener on, hopefully, every piece,” Stewart said.

The rich music and masterful execution certainly reflects the dedication and talent of the students in this year’s chorale. From the amount of effort they put into the recognition they received, they reflect a unique side of Biola and the music program.

A Triple Threat

“I can’t imagine doing this with any other group of students,” Stewart said. “I’ve told them many times that they’re a triple threat in Christ — that they have the mind, they have the heart and they have the voice. I’m just so grateful that we get to do this together.”

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