Spring 2023 Choir Season: Interview with the Director

Circle City Chorale Choir Director, Angela Rosser

In the middle of a busy Spring 2023 choir concert season, we sat down with Circle City Chorale’s Director, Angela Rosser, to talk about the state of the choir since the pandemic. Where has the choir been? Where are they going? And what can the community expect from the choir this season? The last few months have been busy, as the choir has been rehearsing since February. In the meantime, we also got a new slate of board members to help lead and grow the choir over the next couple of years. Circle City Chorale may have gone into the virtual underground three years ago, but it was always here and never stopped performing. Don’t call it a comeback; we’ve been here for years!

Choir in a Post-Pandemic World

How has the choir progressed since their exciting return to in-person singing after the COVID-19 pandemic saw them go virtual for almost two years?
I am exceptionally pleased with the choir’s growth, commitment, and joy in being back together to sing in person. We started rebuilding, post-Covid with a single choir (approximately 20 singers) all vaccinated and wearing special masks to now, three choirs (over 50 singers), and all Covid restrictions have been lifted. Overall, I think we have a much better appreciation of the music, singing in person, and not to mention the energy in the room being back together again!

How has Circle City Children’s Choir progressed since coming back to in-person singing?
Circle City Children’s Choir (C4) is back in action! After one virtual season during the pandemic, the children are now meeting in person. We are actively rebuilding our children’s program, including ages five through middle school! Our children’s program is now under the direction of Rachelle Randeen. The new group made its debut at our holiday concerts in 2022 and will be performing again in our upcoming spring concerts. We are thrilled to have them back!

Circle City Chorale Today

What has made this iteration of the choir special?
Although many singers worked through the challenges of our virtual choir experience, learning to utilize technology to stay connected, there is nothing like being back in person. With in-person singing, we experience a greater appreciation of the sound we create while rehearsing and performing. The camaraderie and joy in the group is stronger than ever! Singers are more energized after an extended period of being apart. The music we are creating together is extra special!

You’ve decided to resurrect the Circle City Singers small ensemble this season. What made you feel the time was right?
CCS is our auditioned advanced ensemble. Members are also a part of C3. This was a perfect time to have CCS start performing again. We have many talented singers this season, willing to take the extra time necessary to learn additional advanced repertoire. CCS will be performing songs in 8 or more parts, as well as several challenging a cappella pieces. I am thrilled to have the group performing again!

Spring 2023 Concert: United We Sing

The theme of C3’s Spring 2023 Concert is United We Sing. Briefly, can you explain what this means to the choir and what message, if any, you would like to resonate with audiences during the concert?
One of the songs in our repertoire this season is Umoja Tunaimba, which means “United We Sing” in Swahili. [We decided to title the spring choir concert United We Sing as the uniting theme]. The simple message delivered through the lyric touched my heart at a time when we are united again after facing the challenges of the pandemic. Our theme includes pieces with positive messages of unity, joy, peace, love, and hopefulness! The impact of the pandemic still lingers and I have a much better appreciation of things I had taken for granted in the past. I am hopeful that the lyrics and themes of this season will be uplifting, not only to our singers but to our audience as well.

Spring 2023 Repertoire

How did you choose this season’s repertoire? What kind of songs were you looking to have the choir take on this season?
I looked back at some of our favorites from years past that require a well-balanced, full-voiced choral sound. With our current talented group of singers, we have enough voices to perform six to eight-part harmonies and pieces with double choir voicing! In addition, since we have quite a few new members, I wanted to ensure that most of the repertoire would be familiar to the core group, establishing a strong foundation for the season. Positive messages, familiarity, a more challenging repertoire, and an opportunity to feature our talented singers were all major considerations in the repertoire selection this season.

Is there any song in this season’s repertoire that is particularly meaningful?
I have included a diverse selection of music this season, spanning multiple genres. I do make selections with specific intentions, including challenging the choir technically, the size of the choir, balance, and vocal capabilities of the choir in the current season. Most important is the emotion or feeling of the piece. This relies on the message the lyrics convey, along with the melodic and harmonic sense.

I have quite a few favorites this season, with the top spot going to And This Shall Be for Music! Others include Umoja Tunaimba (United We Sing), I Love You / What a Wonderful World, Let There Be Light, Proud, Don’t Stop Believin’, Sing Sing Sing, and Truly Brave. You can see by the song titles, we have a recurring, uplifting theme being presented throughout the concert!

What’s Next for the Choir?

What would you like to see from the choir, as a whole, in the future? Participation in other events or additions to the repertoire?
Moving forward, music education will be a key part of our programming for all choirs. There is so much we can all learn and improve upon! I would like to raise the bar and improve the skill set of all singers. We have already implemented a leveled sight singing program written by Karen Garrett.

Circle City Chorale will be looking for additional performance and community outreach opportunities. We have a co-sponsorship with the City of Corona and support from the California Arts Council that has helped our program through this rebuilding process. We hope to partner with performing arts organizations in the area and other local businesses as we rebuild. An exciting personal goal is to plan another choir tour. We were fortunate enough to travel to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest in 2016, creating wonderful memories. I hope to start working on another choir tour in the near future.