WP Chamber Choir and Chamber Winds to Perform During Concert Tour in Belgium and France

The combined WP Chamber Choir and Chamber Winds, with faculty members Teresa Purcell-Giles (far left, second row) and Diane Falk-Romaine (far right, third row)

The William Paterson Chamber Choir, the University’s elite vocal ensemble, along with four small instrumental chamber ensembles, are headed to Belgium and France during spring break for a performance and cultural tour that will take them to Antwerp, Bruges, Chartres, Paris, and Normandy.

The 37-member group, which includes students and alumni, will present five concerts during the 10-day tour. Among the performances are participation in Mass at the Antwerp Cathedral, along with concerts at St. Salvatore and Donatius Church in Bruges, the Parish Church St.-Mer-Eglise, the Church of Madeleine in Paris, and at the Normandy and Utah Beach memorials.

“The opportunity for our students to make music in these beautiful and historic places while also building a global perspective is one that will impact them for the rest of their lives,” says Teresa Purcell-Giles, assistant professor of music and director of bands at William Paterson University, who is coordinating the tour along with Diane Falk-Romaine, professor of music education and interim director of choirs, and Christopher Herbert, associate professor of music and coordinator of vocal studies. “The students attending the tour underwent a rigorous audition process in order to qualify, so this is a real achievement for our students.”

The tour was originally organized by the late Lauren Fowler-Calisto, professor of music and director of choral activities, who died in December 2023. “Lauren had such a passion for creating opportunities for students to visit and make music in different parts of the world,” says Purcell-Giles. “Her dedication to facilitating international tours is such a special part of her legacy in our Department of Music.”

Students auditioned for the group in the spring of 2023 and for the last year have dedicated themselves to singing and performing an ambitious program of a capella choral music and instrumental chamber music that is representative of composers from this part of the world. The program includes choral music in Latin, French, and English from a range of time periods. In addition to performing pieces in Latin that are part of the Mass liturgy, they will perform sacred classics such as Francis Poulenc’s “Cantique de Jean Racine,” sung in French. The program also includes a number of Americana works, including the folk songs “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and “Down by the Riverside.”

The instrumental chamber ensembles are comprised of a woodwind trio and low brass quartet and will perform music from the Renaissance to the present day, including a Canzona by the Renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli, a drum and fife duet by the 20th century French composer Henri Tomasi, and a trio by the contemporary Netherlandish composer, Herman Beeftink.

Three of the choir members—Cassandra Sutter of Riverdale, Viviana Kaszubski of Boonton, and Scarlette Horvath of Morris Plains—will also serve as student/guest conductors.

Other members of the choir include Andie Baldwin of Blairstown; Timothy Barral of Mahwah; Kyra Cioffi and Eva Tobin of Rutherford; Alejandro De los Santos and Arthur (AJ) Ysorida of Dover; Philip Engle of Hopatcong; George Ferguson of Bergenfield; Owen Gavigan of Hillsborough Township; Sarah Gray of Bloomingdale; Amya (Koi) Hamlett of Paterson; Thomas Jefferson of Cape May Court House; Virginia (Ginny) Lackey of Waldwick; Haleigh Longo of Stroudsburg, PA; Julia Macedo of West Milford; Jessica Momanyi of Edison; Angelo Oliver of Hackettstown; Nicole Parente of Palisades Park; Ethan Raymond of West Orange; Kylie Sciarra of Hawthorne; Austin Sidito of Holbrook, NY; Isabelle Thomas of Wayne; Zoe Vandergast of West Caldwell; Giovany Vega of Haledon; Joseph Villalona of Passaic; and Emily Wynne of Verona.

Instrumentalists include Mila Ballela, flute, of Hackettstown; Alejandro De los Santos, euphonium; Sophia Delgado, flute/piccolo, of Pequannock; Bernadette Duran, saxophone, of Bergenfield; George Ferguson, trombone; Christopher Jenkins, percussion, and Jessica Miller, trombone, of Roxbury; Christian Pomerantz, percussion, of River Edge; and Giovany Vega, euphonium.

Amelia Makus, a local choir director, will also serve as a guest conductor.

In addition to performing in concert, the students will have the opportunity to visit the Bayeux Cathedral, the D-Day memorials at Utah and Normandy Beaches, Mont-St-Michel, the Chartres Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum, and to take a river cruise down the Seine.

The group will be posting throughout the trip. Follow them on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/voiceatwpunj/.