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TED Conference In Long Beach Gets Chamber Choir Touch

Published: February 15, 2013

The Chamber Choir

CSULB’s Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir will perform for Eric Whitacre’s talk at the TED Conference—Technology, Education and Design—to be held on March 1 at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.

“The Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB has a longstanding relationship with Whitacre, one of the top choral composers in the world,” said Chamber Choir Director Jonathan Talberg, a member of the university since 2000. “He has performed as a guest artist at CSULB on multiple occasions in the last decade. I have known Whitacre since the early 1990s and the Chamber Choir has performed his work at the National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association.”

The TED conference is one of the elite conferences of its kind in the world, Talberg believes. TED at its core is “leveraging the power of ideas to change the world,” he said. The Chamber Choir performed at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Western Convention in 2008, at the ACDA National Convention in 1993, the California Music Educators Association Conventions in 1997 and 2002, and the World Symposium of Choral Music in Netherlands in 1999.

“This conference discusses the latest ideas and innovations in the world,” said Talberg, a conductor in who has worked with all levels of singers—from elementary to professional—throughout the United States and Europe. “This performance represents a chance for CSULB’s Chamber Choir to receive wonderful exposure as well as our fellow participants, the University Singers from CSU Fullerton and the Riverside City College Chamber Singers. Riverside is one of CSULB’s feeder schools and this performance strengthens that relationship. CSU Fullerton is both CSULB’s biggest rival—in terms of recruiting students and its greatest collaborators with four performances with them in the last three years.”

Together, the three choral groups will perform Whitacre’s “Cloudburst.” “It is a new work for us,” he said. “The choir claps, snaps and thigh smacks in order to imitate the sound of rain. A thunder sheet, bass drum, handbells, suspended cymbal, wind chimes and piano contribute to the effect of a thunderstorm.”

Eric Whitacre

Whitacre is a composer, conductor, broadcaster and public speaker. His first album as both composer and conductor on Decca/Universal, “Light & Gold,” won a Grammy in 2012 and became the number one classical album in the U.S. and UK charts within a week of release. His second album, “Water Night,” was released on Decca in April 2012 and debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes and Billboard classical chart.

“The Chamber Choir is the Cole Conservatory’s top vocal ensemble,” said Talberg. “It is not gilding the lily to say these people are good. This is the most difficult voice program to get into in the state of California. Out of the 300 who audition, we accept 30. The Chamber Choir represents the best of the best.” Other upcoming performances include the “Mozart Requiem” in Celebrating Music, with the Kronos Quartet in the Carpenter Center, and their own concerts “Poetry in Song” and “Choral Chestnuts” in the Gerald R. Daniel Recital Hall.

“The Chamber Choir members are excited to participate in the TED talks,” said Talberg. “They enjoy the idea of being part of discussions that define today and the future. TED is a big part of the Internet culture and becoming part of that is exciting.”

Talberg feels confident the Chamber Choir’s experience will help prepare them for the TED venue.

“We have performed in the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s and St. Mark’s Basilicas in Italy, the Karlskirche in Vienna, and at the Great Hall of the People in China,” he said. “We are ready for this. With all the travel the Chamber Choir has put in over the last decade and a half, it is exciting to perform in our own backyard.”

Talberg is pleased and excited about the March appearance. “All musicians look for great performance venues and opportunities to make music and this is one of them,” he said. “We assure incoming students to the Bob Cole Conservatory that they will have unprecedented performance opportunities. This is one of those opportunities to present themselves through their work.”

–Richard Manly