Concerts have been performed in collaboration with Houston-based musicians and even national touring acts. The group performed at the 2008 Latin Grammy Awards ceremony at the Toyota Center, participated in the 2009 “Star Wars In Concert” at Jones Hall (featuring C3PO actor Anthony Daniels), opened for the Temptations at the Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting in 2012 and backed platinum-selling artist Josh Groban in 2014. The group closed out 2015 backing up popular singer-songwriter Jim Brickman at Cullen Performance Hall. “The benefits of these kinds of performances is to show students how their classical training will translate into professional music making,” she said. “They also get a glimpse into how these concerts work. When we performed in the Josh Groban concert, we never saw him until the night of the concert. We worked with the music director and his band and a stand-in vocalist during rehearsals. It’s all very interesting to see how these concerts are put together.” The Chorale also extends its reach into local churches. It performs frequently in the city’s most beautiful places of worship, including Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. This year, the group performed a rare concert at Houston’s Villa de Matel Convent.
Miami (in 2007). In 2009, Weber entered the Chorale in its first international festival and competition. The group traveled to Llangollen, Wales for the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. During its European debut, the group took first place in the festival’s chamber music Previous page: The Concert Chorale competition. performed at Villa Two years later, the de Matel in March. group returned to Europe This page: Betsy Cook Weber directs for Florilège Vocal de Tours the chorale during in Tours, France. During rehearsal at Moores that trip, it earned second School of Music. Opposite: The choir place in the Mixed Choir at Villa de Matel. Competition and an award for Best New Work (the work “I Cannot Live with You” by UH music professor David These concerts entertain and inspire Ashley White). In 2013, it performed at the Houstonians, as well as educate singers on International Chamber Choir Competition classic works. in Germany, where it received first prize and “On the many occasions Dr. Betsy Weber the Gustave Charlier-Anna Maroye Prize for and the UH Concert Chorale have performed best interpretation of a religious chorale work in the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the (“Splendid Jewel” by Steven Paulus). artistry and care are top notch,” said CoIn 2015, the group further cemented its Cathedral organist and music director Crista international reputation with top honors at Miller. “My favorite performance, however, Germany’s Grand Prix of Nations. was in March 2014. Betsy approached me about These events not only promote the chorale, having the Chorale perform Frank Martin’s they further showcase the University of beautiful ‘Mass for Double Choir’. She wanted Houston as a haven for student talents. this to be as the composer wished—to be sung “It became abundantly clear to me that within the context of a live Mass, rather than if the Chorale simply stayed at home and a ‘mere’ concert. Students from Chorale who delivered concerts, the students would not regularly sing at the Co-Cathedral led the get the recognition they deserve,” Weber said. Gregorian chants, visibly demonstrating a “Outside validation is very important. There laboratory environment for student leadership. are not collegiate level choral competitions Dr. Weber’s vision in creating this experience in the U.S., so we had to look outside of the for the students and for the public attending country for that kind of recognition. These the Mass was very moving on all levels— experiences have validated what people in artistic, scholarly and spiritual.” Houston know—UH has a world class singing program.” Catherine Goode agrees. During her WORLD STAGE freshman year, the singer journeyed with the Houstonians aren’t the only ones to Chorale to France. She returned to Europe experience the Concert Chorale’s talents. three more times with her fellow singers Weber has taken the group to prestigious before graduating in May 2015. music conferences, including the Texas Music “Performing for a variety of audiences Educators Association Conference in San means that our music and efforts are able to Antonio (in 2005 and 2008) and the American touch that many more people,” said Goode, Choral Directors National Convention in
46 UNIVERSI T Y OF HOUS TON Magazine • SPRING 2016