Internationally Renowned St. Olaf Choir Shares its Artistry with Seattle

Under the direction of conductor Anton Armstrong, the St. Olaf Choir kicks off an 11-city tour on January 31, 2018 at Seattle's Benaroya Hall. For more than a century the world-renowned St. Olaf Choir has set a gold standard for choral singing and for this tour the ensemble's 75 singers present an eclectic program of sacred and secular choral masterpieces that range from Baroque classics to American folk songs, world music, hymns, and spirituals.

Two St. Olaf choir members will have the unique experience of performing for a hometown crowd. Soprano Kayleigh Shaffer is from Tacoma and a senior majoring in Vocal Music Education; alto, Helena Webster from Oak Harbor is a sophomore majoring in Vocal Performance.

The tour program features music by West Coast composers, including an arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach's Chorale (Pieta) by Seattle based John Muelheisen, This is the Day by Stanford Scriven of Portland (who is a 2011 St. Olaf College graduate and past member of the St. Olaf Choir), To Music by David Conte of the San Francisco Bay area, and Sure On This Shining Night by Morten Lauridsen of Los Angeles.

Joining the St. Olaf Choir and Armstrong on their tour is violinist and violist Charles Gray, professor of music at St. Olaf College. A former member of the Rochester Philharmonic in New York and the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan, Gray is currently a substitute member of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

On January 31st from 1-3pm St. Olaf Choir hosts a High School Choir Workshop at Shorewood High School. Members of the press are invited to attend as Anton Armstrong directs as the choir performs for, and studies with high school singers from the Seattle Children's Chorus, Meadowdale, Kamiak, Bothell and Shorewood High Schools. Phone interviews are available by contacting Jennifer Rice at the number listed above.

"Hearing the St. Olaf Choir in concert is more than just a musical experience," says Anton Armstrong. "Our singers, performing at the highest artistic level, convey a message of hope. Our music provides a bridge to what can unite us at a time when the world is so divided." Armstrong adds: "We often hear from concertgoers who tell us they are not only struck by the sound and uniformity of the St. Olaf Choir, but also by the earnestness of what comes through the voices of our young singers. The St. Olaf Choir performs at the highest artistic level, focusing on body, mind, spirit, and voice. Our singers touch the hearts and souls of listeners, and our audiences leave transformed."

Tickets are on sale now and range from $30-$45. Student and group pricing is available. Visit www.benaroyahall.org or call (206) 215-4747. The Benaroya Hall Ticket Office is on the corner of Third Avenue and Union Street. Ticket Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.

ABOUT ST OLAF CHOIRFounded 106 years ago by F. Melius Christiansen at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., the St. Olaf Choir is internationally recognized as a creative force behind America's a cappella choral tradition. Now in his 28th year as conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, Anton Armstrong is only the fourth conductor in the ensemble's history, beginning his tenure in 1990. In addition to his role as a professor of music at St. Olaf College, he is in demand in the international choral scene as a guest conductor and lecturer.

The St. Olaf Choir has a long history of innovation. It became one of the first to tour the nation regularly starting in 1920. The St. Olaf Choir also began recording in the 1920s and performed on air when radio was in its infancy. The annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival has aired on national and international radio and television for more than 40 years, and continues to serve as a prototype for these types of holiday broadcasts. The singers commit to balancing full course loads with rehearsals five days a week; choir members perform concerts entirely from memory. Anton Armstrong has conducted the St. Olaf Choir since 1990. There have been only three conductors of the St. Olaf Choir before Armstrong: Kenneth Jennings, Olaf Christiansen and the founder and first conductor F. Melius Christiansen.

Touring, recording and broadcasts are all major components in the artistic life of the St. Olaf Choir. The St. Olaf Choir has performed for capacity audiences in major concert halls across the nation and overseas since 1920. The St. Olaf Choir traveled to Asia in June 2017, presenting concerts at Minatomirai Hall in Tokyo and the Kyoto Concert Hall in Japan, followed by performances in South Korea at the Busan Cultural Center Grand Hall in Busan, Gyeongju Arts Center in Gyeongiu, and the Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul. Other recent tours have included Norway, England, Wales, Ireland, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Berlin, Australia and New Zealand. Annual tours attract audiences totaling 25,000.

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