Members of the Western Michigan University Chorale intensely bonded over language and music during the months leading up to the Kaunas Cantat International Choir Festival and Competition, says Dr. Kimberly Dunn Adams, director of choirs at WMU. That unity made all the difference in the competition, which was held in Birštonas, Lithuania in early May.
The choir prepped works in several Baltic languages, and a variety of other works, including American spirituals. After a travel day of nearly 24 hours, leaving Kalamazoo on a bus and flying from Detroit to Frankfurt to Vilnius, the choristers found their hotel, changed into concert dress, and gave their first performance in the opening showcase of the festival, says Adams. Two days later, after competition rounds in three categories, the Western Michigan University Chorale earned gold in all three categories and was awarded the Grand Prix.
One of Adams' successful strategies at the competition was to make each performance fresh by adjusting tempos, phrasing and affect, so that the judges would hear the choir's flexibility and musicality. She expressed pride in the singers, who enjoyed a week visiting Latvia and Estonia after the festival's conclusion.
The University Chorale will take part in the Fall Choral Showcase on October 22, and A Choral Christmas on December 2.