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Pacific Chorale Launches New Choral Music Education Initiative

Pacific Chorale begins its newest education and community program—Choral Advantage—August 6–12, 2012 in association with California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). Sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Choral Advantage is a one-week choral music intensive for high school students focused on building a strong understanding of music theory and vocal production. Taught by distinguished faculty from CSU Fullerton’s College of the Arts—Dr. Robert Istad and Dr. Christopher Peterson—along with several professional singers and educators, students will be introduced to choral music literature and sing in large and small ensembles during the week. Choral Advantage will conclude with a performance showcase on Saturday, August 11 at CSU Fullerton’s campus, highlighting the students’ entire week’s work. Student registration for Choral Advantage is now available online.


Dr. Robert Istad, Director of Choral Studies from CSU Fullerton states, “Choral Advantage will be an incredible opportunity for young singers by giving each singer the opportunity to couple a life-changing musical experience with world-class instruction in musicianship and voice training.” Each day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., students will attend classes in voice to improve their singing technique as well as attend music theory/musicianship classes to improve upon music reading and artistic understanding. Electives of various topics will also be offered for students to explore their own unique musical interests.


“Students attending will amazed by how much fun it is to sing with others who share their passion for choral music,” says Dr. Christopher Peterson, Professor of Choral Music Education at CSU Fullerton. “They will grow as musicians, and will be able to express their musical creativity in many ways. The friends they make, and the musical skills they will develop, will make this incredible week the highlight of their summer. It’s not just another choir, but choral music education experience that they will cherish for a lifetime.”


For more information about Choral Advantage, please contact Katherine Yang, Director of Education and Community Programs, at Katherine(at)PacificChorale(dot)org, or call (714) 662-2345.


Dr. Robert Istad is the assistant conductor of the Pacific Chorale and Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he conducts the University Singers and Concert Choir, in addition to teaching courses in conducting, advanced interpretation, and literature. He has prepared choruses for Esa–Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, as well as conductors Bramwell Tovey, Eric Whitacre, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, John Alexander, William Dehning, David Lockington, and Mark Manderano.


Istad received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, his Master of Music degree in choral conducting from California State University, Fullerton, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral music at the University of Southern California. Istad is also the artistic director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers and Long Beach Bach Festival.


Christopher Peterson is Associate Professor of Music at California State University, Fullerton where he directs the CSUF Concert Choir, the Titan Men’s Chorus, and teaches classes in choral music education. In spring 2011 he was named the 2010-2011 Cal State Fullerton ASI Outstanding Educator of the Year. From 2001–2007 he was Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Dr. Peterson taught music in the public schools of Maine for nine years, including elementary, middle, and high school music instruction.


He is the author of articles published in the Music Educators Journal, is a contributing author for the textbook series Experiencing Choral Music, published in the United States by Glencoe, and is Series Editor and a choral arranger for Hal Leonard’s Close Harmony Series for Men and the Close Harmony Collection. Recently he held the position of State Choral Representative for the California Music Educators Association (CMEA), and is currently the CMEA Southern Section President. Peterson also is the Western Division Technology Chair for the upcoming Reno Convention of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA).


For six years Dr. Peterson conducted the Milwaukee Youth Chorale, a mixed honor choir for high school students affiliated with the Milwaukee Children’s Choir. Dr. Peterson maintains an active schedule as a choral clinician, guest conductor, and judge for festivals and choral performance events across the United States and internationally. Recent engagements have taken him to England, Sweden, Japan, and New Zealand.

In his spare time, Dr. Peterson sings bass with the Masters of Harmony, eight-time International Men’s Chorus Champions of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He earned the Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Southern Maine, and the Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Maine. He earned the Doctor of Philosophy in Choral Music Education and Conducting from Florida State University where he studied with Rodney Eichenberger, Andre Thomas, and Clifford Madsen.


Currently celebrating his fortieth season as Artistic Director and Conductor of Pacific Chorale, John Alexander is one of America’s most respected choral conductors. His inspired leadership both on the podium and as an advocate for the advancement of the choral art has garnered national and international admiration and acclaim. In his long and distinguished career Alexander has conducted hundreds of choral and orchestral performances in 27 countries around the globe. Noted as a specialist in conducting the choral/orchestral masterworks, he is also a strong proponent of American music, programming groundbreaking works by California composers and bringing numerous West Coast and world premieres to Southern California performance halls. Choruses prepared by John Alexander have performed under many of the most renowned conductors on the world stage, including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Slatkin, Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Lukas Foss, Keith Lockhart, John Mauceri, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustavo Dudamel, Carl St.Clair, Bramwell Tovey, Marin Alsop, John Williams, JoAnn Falletta, Sir Andrew Davis, Nicholas McGegan, Ivor Bolton, Ludwig Wicki, Gerard Schwarz and Max Rudolf.


Founded in 1968, Pacific Chorale is internationally recognized for exceptional artistic expression, stimulating American-focused programming, and influential education programs. Pacific Chorale presents a significant performance season of its own at the Orange County Performing Arts Center and is sought regularly to perform with the nation’s leading symphonies. Under the inspired guidance of Artistic Director John Alexander, Pacific Chorale has infused an Old World art form with California’s hallmark innovation and cultural independence. Pacific Chorale has a membership of 140 professional and volunteer singers. In addition to its long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, the Chorale has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall on numerous occasions. Other noted collaborations include the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony, and the Long Beach, Pasadena, Riverside and San Diego symphonies. John Alexander and the Chorale have performed in 29 cities around the United States, and have toured extensively in Europe, South America and Asia.


Throughout its 40-year history, Pacific Chorale has established a successful track record of implementing quality, meaningful and relevant education programs. Pacific Chorale’s Education Department has won numerous awards, including the Orange County Department of Education’s “Outstanding Contribution to Education Award” in 2002 and Chorus America’s inaugural national “Educational Outreach Award” in 1997.



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