Chamber Choir: International Champions

The Portland State Chamber Choir won the Grand Prix at the largest choral festival in Asia. Portland State was the first American choir ever to compete in the Bali International Choral Festival July 14-20, which featured over 100 choirs.

“This trip was a profound experience for Chamber Choir students,” says Ethan Sperry, the Barre Stoll Director of Choral Activities in the PSU School of Music. “Asian choirs have a distinctive approach to music, and our ears were opened to a new palette of sounds.

“I hope that we offered a similar experience for the people hearing an American choir for the first time.”

The Chamber Choir won two categories: Music of Religions and Gospels & Spirituals. They earned the highest score in the entire festival in Gospels & Spirituals, and were proud that their presentation of this distinctly American art form had such an impact on judges from other countries.

During the 10-day trip, the Chamber Choir toured cultural sites, visited a program to alleviate poverty and sang at a charity concert to raise money for homeless youth. The choir also joined two Indonesian choirs to sing opera chorus at a gala for Catharina Leimena, Indonesia's first opera star.

“Our goal was to sing our best—and we did,” Sperry says. “We’re grateful to have had the chance to share music with singers from all over the world, and extremely proud to bring the grand prix trophy back to Portland State.”

This is the second international competition that the Chamber Choir has won in recent years. In 2013 they were the first American choir to win the Grand Prix at the Seghizzi International Competition for Choral Singing, held in Italy.

"The Doors of Heaven," the Chamber Choir's recording of works by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, will be released on Friday, August 11, by Naxos, the world's largest classical music label. The CD is available for pre-order on Amazon.

-- Suzanne Gray