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The Choirs

Founded in 1965, WomenSing is an auditioned chorus known for its vibrant and beautifully blended sound. True to its mission, WomenSing’s repertoire includes both “the traditional and the unexpected,” from great landmarks of the treble choir repertoire and seldom performed works and new music, including commissioned works by nationally recognized composers.  Under the direction of Artistic Director Ofer dal Lal, the 40-plus singers hail from almost every East Bay city, and draw audiences from throughout the Bay Area.

WomenSing often collaborates with other major performing groups, and creates special events using choral music to raise awareness of community and global issues. In addition to concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area, WomenSing has toured the United States and around the world. During the summer of 2019 WomenSing traveled to Greece, and joined with El Sistema Greece to perform at Eleonas Refugee Camp with their children’s chorus. Early in 2020 the choir hosted the Jerusalem Youth Chorus of both Jewish and Palestinian singers.

 

Last year, WomenSing commissioned renowned composer Shawn Kirchner to compose a concert-length work, The Light of Hope Returning.  WomenSing premiered the piece in December 2019 to a sold-out audience. The choir is thrilled to bring this piece to new audiences in an international collaboration to premiere on December 21st, 2020.

Elektra Women’s Choir from Vancouver, Canada has been a leader among women’s choirs since 1987. Under the direction of Artistic Director, Morna Edmundson, the choir is known for its adventurous programming and performance excellence. Elektra delivers its mandate through a highly-acclaimed concert series featuring outstanding guest artists. The choir is a leader in repertoire development, performing worthy music from the past and new works. In its first three decades, Elektra has commissioned and premiered over 100 compositions and arrangements.

 

The choir’s recordings extend the reach of its repertoire internationally on a multitude of digital platforms, and its extensive YouTube channel further promotes the choir’s repertoire discoveries. Elektra has released 16 CDs and its website offers a permanent repertoire resource for other choirs. Its celebrated outreach programs encourage, train, and mentor the next generation of youth and adults: singers, conductors, and composers. A multiple, national prize-winning ensemble, Elektra has been honoured to perform at major conferences of choral professionals worldwide.

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Shawn Kirchner

Composer

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Shawn Kirchner is a composer/arranger, singer, and pianist based in Los Angeles whose choral works are sung throughout the world. A tenor with the Los Angeles Master Chorale since 2001, Kirchner also served as the ensemble’s Composer in Residence from 2012-2015, a position formerly held by Morten Lauridsen. With the Master Chorale, Kirchner has performed with the LA Philharmonic in many collaborations with the world’s leading conductors and composers. He is also a member of LAMC’s touring company of Lagrime di San Pietro, presenting the fully staged, Peter Sellars-directed Renaissance masterpiece at the Salzburg Festival and other major international venues as well as concert series at American universities. Kirchner has also sung for dozens of feature film soundtrack sessions, including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Avatar, and La La Land.

Best known worldwide for his choral setting of the Kenyan song Wana Baraka and Heavenly Home: Three American Songs, which have been praised by the LA Times as “arranged with mastery,” Kirchner has also produced cycles on the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and William Blake. His writing for the voice ignites the enthusiasm of singers and his works are often programmed or commissioned for festivals, conventions, and honor choirs. Kirchner’s works are published by Boosey & Hawkes, Oxford, Santa Barbara, and through his own website. His original songwriting ranges in style from jazz and gospel to folk and bluegrass, the latter featured on his CD Meet Me on the Mountain.


Kirchner was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and earned a BA in Peace Studies with a focus on foreign languages from Manchester University before pursuing a MA in Choral Conducting at the University of Iowa, where his teachers included William Hatcher, Richard Bloesch, and Donald Jenni. His principle creative mentor is the songwriter Steve Kinzie.

Kevork Mourad

Animation Artist

Born in Qamishli, Syria, Kevork Mourad now lives and works in New York City. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia. Mourad has been a resident teaching artist at Brandeis University, Harvard University, and Holy Cross (Worcester). He is the only visual artist member in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and is featured in the film “Music of Strangers” (2016).

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Recent commissions include Israel in Egypt, for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Sound of Stone to accompany the exhibition “Armenia!” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Well Wish Ya, a dance performance piece with the OYO Dance Troupe in Namibia. His performance, Home Within, co-produced with clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, has toured the world. The 2016 recipient of the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize, his animated film 4 Acts for Syria made its 2019 premiere at the Stuttgart Animation Festival. He was recently asked by the Aga Khan Foundation to create a site-specific 20-foot drawing-sculpture called Seeing Through Babel, at London’s Ismaili Center, addressing the importance of diversity in our contemporary times.

Allison Girvan

Vocal Soloist

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Allison Girvan’s music career has seen experience as a professional singer, arranger, director, and clinician. She has been a featured soloist on recordings and in performance with ensembles including musica intima, Elektra Women’s Choir, The Vancouver Chamber Choir, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and as a vocalist for studio sessions for radio, T.V. and feature film. Allison has worked extensively with Canadian Celtic Tenor, John McDermott, on recordings, international tours, and the PBS specials, A Time to Remember and Sharing Christmas. Her debut solo cd, Resonance, combining her love of world music and her love of languages, was released in 2007 the follow up cd, Fishing By the Light of the Ancestors was released in 2014 and the concept album of Allison’s original fully-staged production, Quintessence, was released in spring 2020.

Allison is the founder and director of the children’s choir, VoixVive ; youth choirs Solstice and, Corazón; and young adult choir, Lalin. She is an award-winning educator and was named Nelson’s Official Cultural Ambassador for 2019. Allison lives in Nelson BC where she continues to create, perform, record and teach.

Morna Edmundson

Artistic Director / Elektra Women's Choir

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Morna Edmundson is one of Canada’s best-known choral conductors with a strong reputation for excellence. Passionate since childhood about choral singing, she obtained degrees and diplomas in vocal music in Vancouver, Bellingham, and Stockholm, Sweden where her teachers included Eric Ericson.

In 1987, she co-founded Elektra Women’s Choir with Diane Loomer, a treasured partnership that lasted 22 years. In 2009, Morna became Elektra’s sole Artistic Director, continuing the choir’s strong leadership role in concert presentation, commissioning, recording, and mentorship.

In addition to her work with Elektra, Morna is the Artistic Director of EnChor, a Vancouver-based, auditioned, mixed choir for mature voices. For 14 years Morna shared her love of quality repertoire with a new generation of singers in her role as Associate Artistic Director of Coastal Sound Music Academy, where she was Music Director of the mixed-voice Youth Chamber Choir. Morna has adjudicated in North America and Asia, conducted honour choirs in several states, co-directed the American Choral Directors Association National Women’s Honour Choir, and gives frequent workshops with choirs of all ages.

In 2000 she was presented with the Healey Willan Award for outstanding service to the BC Choral Federation, an organization she serves as a member of the Willan Council. In February 2009 Morna was a recipient of the BC Community Achievement Award, which recognized her gifted organizational talent, leadership by example, and her encouragement of others to pursue their musical and choral goals. In June 2011 Morna received a Vancouver YWCA Woman of Distinction award in recognition of her work with Elektra. Since 2013, she has served as a Board member of Chorus America, the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that gives voice to the choral field.

Ofer dal Lal

Artistic Director / WomenSing

Ofer dal Lal is a conductor who lives in the Bay Area and works internationally. In his fourth year with WomenSing, Mr. dal Lal also leads the San Francisco Bay Area Chamber Choir and Mission Peak Chamber Singers. He serves on the board of Livermore Valley Opera and has served on the faculty of California State University East Bay, teaching choral conducting for undergraduate and graduate and students.

Mr. dal Lal first came into prominence as the musical director and conductor of the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir – an organization of five choirs consisting of 150 singers and one of Israel’s leading non-professional choirs. He relocated to California after completing a master’s degree magna cum laude in conducting at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel-Aviv.

Among the ensembles he has conducted are the world-renowned Stuttgart Chamber Choir and Classical Philharmonic Orchestra (Germany), Berlin Radio Choir (Germany), Oregon Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra (Oregon, USA), Salt Lake Vocal Artists (Utah, USA), Israel Philharmonic Choir (Israel), Voces Nordicae (Sweden), Studium Canticum (Cagliari, Italy) and Manado State University Choir (Indonesia).