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College of Arts and Humanities

Chamber Choir

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2009 Chamber Choir

Chamber Choir, CWU’s premier choir, is a rigorously Dr. Gary Weidenaar conducting rehearsalsauditioned ensemble of experienced choral singers. 

The demands placed on the singer-musicians are great, with much of the note learning occurring outside of rehearsal. Musical integrity is maintained through consistent individual part checks.

The reward for this expended effort for the singer is a series of unforgettable experiences resulting from music made at a high level.

“Stunning”, “Thrilling”, “A sound of liquid gold”,
“My socks are officially knocked off”, “Transcendent”

are descriptors from audience members after recent Chamber Choir appearances – showing that the listeners appreciate the effort as well.

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Of equal importance is the character of the person – maturity, perseverance, a strong work ethic, a supportive nature, a constant desire to improve and willingness to put one’s ego second to the group’s needs are expected of each member.

Chamber Choir maintains a busy schedule of performances both on and off campus, with multiple concerts each quarter.

Close up of chamber choir singer

Since 2006, when Dr. Gary Weidenaar took the baton, the choir has received invitations to appear at five state & regional conferences and one international competition:

  • the 2008 & 2010 WMEA State Conferences
  • the 2010 ACDA Northwest Conference
  • the 2011 Northwest NAfME Conference
  • the 2015 Tolosako Abesbatza Lehiaketa competition, in Tolosa, Spain
  • the 2016 ACDA Northwest Conference
  • the 2020 ACDA Northwest Conference
  • the 2020 NAfME State Conference

Chamber Choir regularly programs music from the Renaissance to compositions of the 21st century, while including music of other cultures as well. 


Meticulous attention is given to performing music of various periods or parts of the world in the style appropriate to that era or culture including adjustments of not only style but tone color also.  The Choir regularly premiers new works by composers.

Recent premiers have included pieces by Tuomas Laurinen (Finland), John Muehleisen (Washington), CWU faculty members Vijay Singh, Scott Peterson, and Martin Kennedy. The choir regularly programs music composed by its members - including pieces by Matthew Woodard, Kati Davi, Daniel Schreiner, Colin Stave, Nelson Green, Matthew Shreve, and others.   

Composer/Pianist Ola Gjeilo and the choir have a special relationship which has blossomed over an 9 year period.  The first collaboration took place in April of 2011, when the New York-based Norwegian composer spent 3 days on campus. Out of his visit came a series of videos which are entitled "In the Moment", in which he improvised piano parts to his normally unaccompanied pieces.  Since then, Mr Gjielo has returned to the CWU campus 3 times for additional recording sesssions. 

Chamber Choir also presents major works with orchestra. Recent performances have included Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms (2007), and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music (2008). Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (2008 with the University Chorale) and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (2010), Handel's Messiah - with 17 student soloists (2014), Mahler's 2nd Symphony (2016) and Brahms' Requiem (2018).

In March, 2011 the choir was invited by Hinako Hovhaness, wife of deceased composer Alan Hovhaness to present his Magnificat (for choir, soloist, and orchestra) to celebrate the 100th year of his birth. The concert was performed in Seattle's Benaroya Hall.

On campus events include a choral concert each quarter featuring all of the traditional choral ensembles and an annual collaboration with the orchestra at Halloween when the two groups combine to present sold-out concerts to local school children and, a few hours later, to the community. The choir regularly hosts visiting choirs of all ages as they stop by for clinics, exchanges, or shared concerts allowing them to sing in the superior acoustics of the CWU McIntyre Music building Concert Hall.

Off campus, in addition to Conference appearances, the Choir regularly takes part with other Washington Universities in annual inter-collegiate sings. 

The choir is humbled by the consistent support given to it at concerts - a reminder of the strong, proud tradition created by alumni which forms a cultural river that has flowed out of Ellensburg to other parts of Washington and beyond.


  • M, W Th Fr – 2:00-3:15
  • + 1 hour required sectional

Entrance Requirements:

  • Rigorous audition
  • Must commit to the full academic year
  • Open to sophomore level or higher
Warming up at benaroya


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