APPLETON, WIS. — The Lawrence University Concert Choir, under the direction of Richard Bjella, will enjoy a pair of spotlight moments when it performs March 7 at the American Choral Directors’ Association national convention in Oklahoma City. With more than 20,000 members, the ACDA is the world’s largest choral organization and several thousand choral leaders of the nation’s best choirs will be attending the convention.
Lawrence was selected from nearly 300 performance applications from choirs around the country. Only 20 choirs were selected for performances during the convention and Lawrence was one of just four mixed college/university choirs chosen to perform. The concert choir will have the privilege of performing twice on the convention’s final day, singing both in the morning and again during the conference’s final performance slot.
The 56-member choir, which includes freshmen through seniors, music and non-music majors, will sing a diverse program at the convention, covering late 16th century to 21st century music that spans the globe from Argentina to Australia. Selections include “Les Voici!,” a chorus from Bizet’s “Carmen,” Stephen Leek’s “Knowee” which debuted in 2008, and Philippe Rogier’s “Laboravi in gemitu meo.” The performance will be held at the 2,600-seat Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall.
Lawrence was selected for the convention through a blind audition process. The audition CD had to include recordings from three consecutive years of performances, insuring a history of high-quality work from the auditioning choir. In 2006, the Concert Choir was chosen to perform at the North Central ACDA regional convention in Omaha, Neb.
Bjella, professor of music, has served as the director of choral studies at Lawrence since 1984. A former president of the Wisconsin Choral Directors’ Association, Bjella has conducted more than 350 festivals and workshops in 25 states throughout the country, including appearances as the conductor of All-State choirs in Wisconsin, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. He also has extensive international guest conducting experience, leading choirs in London, Lucerne, Paris, Prague, Seoul and in 2006 directed the professional choir Polifonija on a four-city tour in Lithuania.