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Program for San Francisco Girls Chorus – Chorus School Level IV

Friday, June 3, 2022 at 8 pm

download a copy of this program here.
download translations of sung texts here.

San Francisco Girls Chorus
Chorus School Level IV

Graduation Ceremony & Concert

Dr. Anne K. Hege, Level IV Director
César Cancino, Level IV Accompanist


Welcome Remarks

Traditional, arr. Alice Parker, set by James Rodde
Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal          

Yossi Spivak, arr. Shira Cion
Ma Navu
            Soloists: Shiva Swaminathan Strickland, Cate Cross, and Magdalena Sambajon Mercado

Morton Lauridsen
Dirait-on from Les chansons des roses

Pekka Kostiainen
Moni kakku päältä kaunis…
      Armahan kulku
      Onpa tietty tietyssäni

Orlande de Lassus, arr. Level IV
medley: Sicut rosa inter spinas / In pace in idipsum

Florence B. Price
The Moon Bridge

Michael McGlynn
            Soloists: Shiva Swaminathan-Stickland, Theo Alling, and Calista Stone

Sheldon Secunda, arr. Carl-Bertil Agnestig
Donna, Donna

George Frideric Handel
from Dixit Dominus
      Movement I: Chorus
      Movement IV: Chorus
      Movement VI: Chorus (excerpt)

Marcy Heisler & Zina Goldrich, arr. Mac Huff
Taylor, the Latte Boy
            Soloist: Cate Cross

Nacio Herb Brown, arr. Anita Kerr
Singing in the Rain
            Soloist: Amelia Berger

Graduation Ceremony

Introduction to Graduate Speaker by Dr. Anne K. Hege
Level IV Graduate Speaker – Francisca Li
Graduate Remarks by Dr. Anne K. Hege
Ceremony and Presentation of Graduate Certificates

Fanny Mendelssohn
Wandl’ich in dem Wald des Abends

Kinley Lange
Esto Les Digo
            Soloist: Vibhuti Singh


Ma Navu
music by Yossi Spivak, arr. Shira Cion
text: Isaiah 52:7

How pleasant on the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, proclaiming salvation, proclaiming peace.

Dirait-on from Les chansons des roses
music by Morton Lauridsen
poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, English translation by Barbara and Erica Muhl

Abandon surrounding abandon, tenderness touching tenderness… Your oneness endlessly caresses itself, so they say: self-caressing through its own clear reflection. Thus you invent the theme of Narcissus fulfilled.

Moni kakku päältä kaunis…
music by Pekka Kostiainen
text from the Kanteletar

I. Armahan kulku
This way my treasure has walked here my beloved has been
this way my dear one has stepped and my fair one has wandered here she has sat on a rock. The rock is much brighter, the boulder better than the next the heath twice as fair and the grove five times more flowery all the forest more pleasant because that treasure of mine walked, that dear one of mine stepped.

II. Onpa tietty tietyssäni
His image is fastened in my mind
My sweet one in my memory,
My little bird flies along with me
My dear one under my wing.

medley: Sicut rosa inter spinas / In pace in idipsum
music by Orlande de Lassus, arr. Level IV

Sicut rosa inter spinas
Sicut rosa inter spinas illis addit speciem,
sic vernustat suam Virgo Maria progeniem:
germinavit enim florem,
qui vitalem dat odorem.

As the rose amongst thorns adds beauty,
so the Virgin Mary adorns her offspring,
for she brings forth a flower,
who gives sweet life.

In pace in idipsum text: Psalm 4: 9-10
In pace in idipsum dormiam et requiescam:
quoniam tu Domine singulariter in spe constituisti me.

In peace I shall sleep and rest:
for you, O Lord, alone, has settled me in hope.

music by Michael McGlynn
Traditional Irish text

“Who is that down there knocking the (stone) walls?” “Me, myself” says Cúnnla.
“Who is that down there pulling the blanket off me?” “Me, myself” says Cúnnla.
“Who is that down there tickling the soles of my feet?” “Me, myself” says Cúnnla.
“Cúnnla dear don’t come any nearer to me!” “My soul I will!” says Cúnnla.

from Dixit Dominus
music by George Frideric Handel
text: Psalm 110

Movement 1: Chorus
The Lord said unto my Lord: Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot-stool.

Movement IV: Chorus
The Lord has sworn, and will not repent.

Movement VI: Chorus (excerpt)
The Lord upon thy right hand, shall wound even kings in the day of his wrath.

Wandl’ich in dem Wald des Abends
music by Fanny Mendelssohn
poem by Heinrich Heine

When I wander in the evening woods,
In the dream-like woods,
Ever at my side wanders
Your tender form.

Is this not your white veil?
Is this not your mild face?
Or is it only moonlight
Breaking through the darkness of the firs?

Is it my own tears
That I hear softly running?
Or are you, beloved, truly walking here,
Weeping close beside me?

Esto Les Digo
music by Kinley Lange
text: Matthew: 18

Where two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be also.

About the artists

Level IV Graduate Speaker – Francisca Li
This year’s Level IV ensemble is the hardest working group I’ve ever had. This group has mastered the most challenging repertoire I have done in all my years with Level IV. It is an ensemble filled with leaders, creative minds, hard workers, and strong musicians. The graduate speaker is a Level IV graduate who demonstrates the qualities that SFGC fosters. This year’s graduate speaker is Francisca Li. Francisca Li is a graduate member who has continued to show her commitment to Level IV through her time as a section leader leading our S1s. She is always ready to participate and share her thoughts in our musical discussions. And this year, what has been most remarkable to me is her growth as a singer. She has worked steadily over this year to master her breath control and ability to support great singing through the high range. Francisca’s willingness to keep putting in the work and continue to grow as a singer, even after disappointments, is a testament to her tenacity, commitment to SFGC, and vision of herself as a singer. Francisca has truly realized and stepped into a new level of singing this year through her consistent hard work. For these reasons, Francisca is this year’s graduate speaker.

Level IV Singers

Theo Alling ➹~
Amelia Berger
Gloria Cebrian
Charlotte B. Choi
Cate Cross ➹~
Natalie Falero
Julia Howe
Rebecca Jia ➢ ~
Aram Kim
Francisca Li ➢ ~
Sierra Valencia Lyon ➹ ~
Magdalena Sambajon Mercado ➹~
Margot Pecceu
Mackenzie Pederson
Iris Pradal
Wilhelmina Naumann Ratto
Elizabeth Rogers
Katherine Rogers
Vibhuti Singh ➹
Leonora Steward
Calista Stone
Shiva Swaminathan Strickland ➹~
Anayah Tin
Ana Camila Vazquez Gonzalez ➹
Pearl Watson
Venus Yu ➹~
Miroslava Zagal

➹ 2022 graduates     ➢ graduate members      ~ section leader

Dr. Anne K. Hege, Level IV Director, creates musical worlds that invite an awareness of and attention to the body and our present moment. In her work as a conductor, composer, vocalist, instrument builder, and scholar, she explores the roots of musicality in the intersection of ensemble interaction, technology, embodiment, and expression. In 2014, she completed her Ph.D. in Music Composition at Princeton University where she studied the role of the body in the creation of meaning in musical performance. Her research was guided by and has influenced her work as a conductor, vocalist, and composer.

Working as a choral conductor since 1999, Hege studied conducting with Melvin Strauss, Neely Bruce, Marika Kuzma, and Judit Hartyanyi. She founded and directed Folk3000 (1999–2001), Albany Community Chorus (2000–2004), Cuatro Vientos (2004–2006), and Celestial Mechanics (2007–2010). Hege was the conductor of the Holy Names University Chorus (2013–2016) and artistic director of Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble (2013–2017). Currently, she is the artistic director of the Peninsula Women’s Chorus and on the voice faculty at Mills College.

Hege’s compositions have been recognized with awards such as The Elizabeth Mills Crothers Prize, The Gwen Livingston Pekora Prize in Music Composition, and a Mark Nelson Fellowship. She has composed for film, installation art, dance, and concert settings. Her works have been performed by So Percussion, Volti SF, Clerestory, Princeton Laptop Orchestra, Ensemble Klang, NOW Ensemble, Newspeak, Flux Quartet, New York Virtuoso Singers, loadbang, among others. From 2008–2015 and again in 2022, Hege composed musical scores for Carrie Ahern Dance with over 40 performances of these works in locations including the vaults of 14 Wall Street, a retired Lyceum, and Dickson’s Farmstand in Chelsea Market. Hege has received awards and grants including a New Music USA Project Grant, an INNOVA Records Project Grant, Composer in Residence (Resound Ensemble), Visiting Artist (CCRMA, Stanford University), Research Affiliate (Center of Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University), among other awards. She is currently finishing her opera, The Furies: A Laptopera, to premiere November 11-13, 2022 at Stanford University and will be releasing her first album, The Tape Machine, on INNOVA Records this coming fall.

César Cancino, piano, enjoys a musically diverse career as pianist, musical director, conductor, and composer. He studied piano with Alain Naudé, a pupil of the great Dinu Lipatti. He was for many years the musical director/pianist for Teatro Zinzanni in San Francisco and for several years toured with singer/songwriter Joan Baez as her musical director and pianist. In 2021 he appeared as pianist/accompanist for LA Opera’s After Hours Latina Composers series. Mr. Cancino has performed throughout North America, Europe and Australia in such venues as Montreux Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Atlanta Summer Pops Symphony and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Artistic Director, has prepared and conducted the San Francisco Girls Chorus since 2013, including performances with renowned ensembles such as the Philip Glass Ensemble, The Knights, Kronos Quartet, New Century Chamber Orchestra, Voices of Music, TENET Vocal Artists, the San Francisco Symphony, and San Francisco Opera.

Ms. Sainte-Agathe continues to bring high-profile guest artists and ensembles from across the United States and beyond to work in collaboration with the choristers of SFGC. She most recently joined forces with The King’s Singers and Roomful of Teeth to further SFGC’s creative energy during the COVID-19 pandemic with several unique video and audio projects that were released in spring 2021. This season, Ms. Sainte-Agathe welcomes legendary American folk-jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin as SFGC Artist-in-Residence and will lead a rare performance of excerpts from his groundbreaking 1997 Sony Classical album Circlesongs.

Through transformative choral music training, education, and performance, Ms. Sainte-Agathe empowers young women and champions the music of today throughout the choral world. Recent commissions by Theresa Wong, Susie Ibarra, Cava Menzies, and Matthew Welch will continue to build upon SFGC’s legacy of creating and presenting new repertoire for treble chorus.

In the 2021–2022 season, Ms. Sainte-Agathe will join forces with GRAMMY Award-winning Kronos Quartet to conduct the world premiere of At War With Ourselves by Michael Abels throughout the U.S. She will also serve as Artist in Residence in Choral Conducting at the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music in Stockton, CA.

During the 2019–2020 season, Ms. Sainte-Agathe, in collaboration with Berkeley Ballet Theater, created and conducted Rightfully Ours, a fully-staged choral music and dance production that brought together young singers and dancers for an entire program of new music and choreographies. Featured works included world premiere commissions by Angélica Negrón and Aviya Kopelman. Ms. Sainte-Agathe also served as Artist-in-Residence for the Kronos Quartet’s Festival 2019.

In February 2018, Ms. Sainte-Agathe made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Philip Glass Ensemble, conducting with Michael Riesman in Glass’s Music with Changing Parts. Ms. Sainte-Agathe also conducted the Philip Glass Ensemble in another performance of this work making her debut at London’s prestigious Barbican Center in October 2019. In October 2017, she conducted The Photographer by Philip Glass and in June 2016, she conducted SFGC alongside The Knights and Brooklyn Youth Chorus for the New York Philharmonic Biennial Festival at Lincoln Center. She also collaborated with The Knights for the SHIFT Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Her first recording as SFGC’s Music Director, Final Answer, was released on Orange Mountain Music in February 2018, and her second recording, My Outstretched Hand, featured composer Aaron Jay Kernis, The Knights, and Trinity Youth Chorus and was released in July 2019. Between 2014 and 2016, she prepared choruses for Lisa Bielawa’s made-for-TV opera, Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser. She also served as Choir Master with Taylor Mac, recipient of MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Grant,” for the Holiday Sauce production at the Curran Theater in December 2018.

Ms. Sainte-Agathe served as Music Director for the Young Singers program of the Montpellier National Symphony and Opera in France from 1998–2011. In this capacity, she trained young singers for opera and symphony concerts and productions. She participated in eight recordings with the Montpellier National Orchestra and The Radio France Festival.

Dr. Laney McClain Armstrong, Director of Choral Studies, is a singer and conductor who has made choral music and education her life’s work. As a conductor and educator, Dr. Armstrong strives to cultivate a love of music in each singer through quality programming, building skills and musicianship, and devotion to the music and texts. She has toured internationally with the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Harvard University Choir as a singer, and was one of the founding members of the Choral Fellows program at Harvard University in 2001. She received a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship in 2009 while a student at the University of Washington that supported her study of Estonian language and culture. As part of her fellowship, she assisted in cataloging entries in the University of Washington’s Baltic Choral Collection. Dr. Armstrong has worked with singers of many ages, teaching middle school and high school, serving as the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Musicianship at the Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley, and working in many capacities at the San Francisco Girls Chorus. She currently works music teacher at the Renaissance International School in Oakland and is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco-based women’s ensemble, Musae.

Dr. Armstrong holds a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in Afro-American Studies and a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon under the direction of Dr. Sharon Paul. In 2013, she received a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington, where she studied with Dr. Geoffrey Boers. Her dissertation, entitled From the mouth and from the heart: the Spiritual Folksongs of Cyrillus Kreek, explores the life of the Estonian composer and his arrangements of folk hymns, with a focus on those written for treble voices. Dr. Armstrong holds a Level I Certification in Kodaly teaching and has prepared singers to sing with the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony, and Opera Parallèle.

About the San Francisco Girls Chorus
Stunning range, flexibility, drama, and power are among the hallmarks of the 43-year-old San Francisco Girls Chorus’s Premier Ensemble, recognized as one of the world’s leading youth vocal ensembles. Led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the Premier Ensemble has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices.

Over the last year, SFGC has embraced the challenges of distance learning by presenting eight virtual performances, premiering seven new works as well as five commissions, and collaborating with renowned guest artists and ensembles from across the Bay Area, United States and beyond, including Virtual Artists-in-Residence The King’s Singers (Fall 2020), Roomful of Teeth (Spring 2021), and TENET Vocal Artists, among many others.  Through its innovative Online Learning Program, SFGC has utilized technology to keep its hundreds of choristers engaged and advancing in their musical activities and performing live together from their own homes. Most recently, SFGC presented three sold-out presentations of The Line Between, a special video production at the Fort Mason FLIX drive-in theater that included world premiere commissions by Cava Menzies, featuring Roomful of Teeth as part of its virtual residency, and Chorus School Composer-in-Residence Susie Ibarra (2020-2021).

This season, SFGC welcomes American folk-jazz singer Bobby McFerrin as Artist-in-Residence and will present a live performance of excerpts from his 1997 improvisational studio album Circlesongs; two SFGC commissioned works including the world premieres of Matthew Welch’s four act choral-opera Tomorrow’s Memories: A Little Manila Diary and Theresa Wong’s In Stillness I Sing, a special collaboration with pianist Sarah Cahill that will also be featured in three KALW radio broadcasts; performances of two previous SFGC commissions by 2021 Pulitzer Prize winner Tania Leon and 2019–2020 Rome Prize winner Pamela Z; and numerous collaborations with artists, ensembles and organizations from across the Bay Area and beyond.

Additional highlights from the 2020–2021 season include the release of a video collaboration with The King’s Singers as part of its virtual residency featuring an arrangement Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah; the world premiere of Music for Hard Times by former Chorus School Composer-in-Residence Danny Clay (2018–2019) in collaboration with The Living Earth Show and San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the world premiere of Music of the Birds by Sahba Aminikia, a co-commission with Kronos Quartet, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Turkey’s Sirkane Social Circus School; and a unique video project with Ars Minerva that combined excerpts from Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans alongside arias by women composers of the Baroque era.

In recent seasons, SFGC embarked on a July 2019 debut tour of England and France that featured six performances in London, Windsor, Cambridge, and Paris; debut performances in February 2018 at Carnegie Hall alongside Philip Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble; and an April 2017 debut performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with The Knights for SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras. SFGC has also traveled the world as a musical ambassador for San Francisco, with tours to the Nordic countries, Germany, Japan, China, South Korea, and Cuba, and performed for the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Praised by Gramophone Magazine as a “remarkable tapestry of teenage voices,” SFGC has been a champion of the music of our time since its founding, having commissioned more than three dozen works by leading composers including Philip Glass, Richard Danielpour, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gabriel Kahane, Augusta Read Thomas, and Chen Yi.

In September 2019, SFGC released its most recent album, My Outstretched Hand, on Supertrain Records featuring The Knights and Trinity Youth Chorus. The album includes world premiere recordings of choral-orchestral works by three American composers, Lisa Bielawa, Aaron Jay Kernis and If I Were Not Me by Colin Jacobsen. Further demonstrating its commitment to the music of today, SFGC’s February 2018 album release, Final Answer, includes works by nine living composers, among them Philip Glass, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Lisa Bielawa, John Zorn, and Gabriel Kahane. The Premier Ensemble has been a recipient of numerous music industry awards, including five GRAMMY Awards, four ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America.

In addition to its Premier Ensemble, SFGC is renowned as a regional center for choral music education and performance for girls and young women ages 4-18. Hundreds of singers from 46 Bay Area cities participate in this internationally-recognized six-level Chorus School, hailed as “a model in the country for training girls’ voices” by the California Arts Council. Launched in March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SFGC created an innovative Online Learning Program that utilizes technology to bring choral music education to the homes of choristers across the Bay Area. For more information, visit

San Francisco Girls Chorus
Board of Directors
Mary Ruppert, President
Sarah Hollenbeck, Vice President
Charles Ferguson, Treasurer
Leah Fitschen Schloss, Secretary
Bernadette Aguirre
Madhavi Dandu
Jeanne Finley
Douglas Hall
Demetra Hill
Alison Huang
Kathleen Koomen
Ann G. Miller
Angela Taylor

Administrative Staff
Adriana Marcial, Executive Director
Alison Bernet, Director of Development
Monica Baruch, Director of Chorus School Operations & Community Engagement
Elaine Russell Robertson, Director of Artistic Operations
Johann Joson, Chorus School Manager
Anna Leal, Development Manager
Rabihah Dunn, Administrative Manager
Michelle Markey, Bookkeeper
Gracia Mwamba, Campus Liaison
Rachel Clee, Dean of Choristers
Brenden Guy, Public Relations Consultant
Beth Beauchamp, Webmaster

Chorus School Faculty
Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Artistic Director
Dr. Laney Armstrong, Director of Choral Studies
Dr. Justin Montigne, Director of Voice Studies
Dr. Anne K. Hege, Level IV Director
Terry Alvord, Level III Director
Monica Baruch, Level II Director
Audrey Chandler, Level II Assistant Director
Ariel Estebez and Gabriela Linares, Level I Directors
Kayla Wilfong and Christopher Street, Training Chorus Directors
Emily Kusnadi and Christopher Street, Prep Chorus Directors
Renée Witon, Music Theory Instructor
Bobby Chastain, AP Music Theory Instructor
Chesley Mok, Premier Ensemble Pianist
César Cancino, Level IV and Level III Pianist
Ian Llacer Chamberla, Level III Pianist
Nicholas Perez, Level III Pianist
Alice Kubo, Natsuko Murayama, Alyssa Tai, Level II Pianists
Christopher Hewitt, Kevin Lie, Jenny Ma, Aria Querubin, Level I Pianists
Aiyana Liu, Level I and Training Chorus Pianist
Angel Chuang, Nathan Crowe, Training Chorus Pianists

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