San Diego’s summer arts calendar usually finds the choral music scene in vacation mode. The universities and churches give their singers an extended break, and choral directors run off to conferences and festivals elsewhere.
This year Patrick Walders, San Diego State University’s Director of Choral Studies, decided to give San Diegans a piece of the festival action and with several colleagues has put together the San Diego Summer Choral Festival at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Bankers Hill and St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Pacific Beach, a four day event for singers and directors that will culminate in a festival concert Sunday, July 28, at 7:30 p.m., at the Pacific Beach church.
Walders is modeling his San Diego festival after the successful Choral Works early music festival at Washington D.C.’s National Cathedral, a weeklong summer festival he participated in when he taught at Virginia’s James Madison University, his post before joining the SDSU faculty two seasons ago.
“The San Diego festival will be a condensed version of what we did at the National Cathedral,” he explained, “but we will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day and work on a broader range of music—from the Renaissance composer John Dowland to the 20th-century gospel music guru Moses Hogan.” Of course, it would we taxing to sing 12 hours a day, so Walders will alternate rehearsing with performances by the festival faculty, vocal lessons, and classes in vocal pedagogy, which he gives the more trendy name “vocal yoga.”
“I like to start every day with an hour of voice building technique that encourages healthy vocal production.”
On Friday at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Walders will conduct the San Diego Pro Arte Voices, a professional ensemble in residence at the festival. This 8:00 p.m. choral concert is free and open to the public.
This spring, Walders invigorated the SDSU choral program with a performance by the SDSU Aztec Concert Choir of jazz composer Randy Klein’s recently commissioned work “For My People,” a song cycle cum oratorio based on the poetry of the African-American poet. A month later he brought together his SDSU choir, the San Diego Master Chorale, the Concert Choir from Pepperdine University, and the SDSU Symphony Orchestra in a massed-choir concert of Ralph Vaughn Williams peace oratorio “Dona Nobis Pacem.”
For more information about the Festival that runs from July 25 through July 28: sdscf.instantencore.com.