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Program for Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco

Sunday, December 5, 2021 at 4 pm

download a copy of this program here.

Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco
Carols by Candlelight

Susan McMane, conductor
Chloe Tula, harp
Margaret Halbig, piano


Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)
A Ceremony of Carols
             Wolcum Yole!
             There is no Rose
             That yongë child
                   Sonia Banker, alto
                   Marybeth Ong, soprano
As dew in Aprille
             This Little Babe
In Freezing Winter’s Night
                   Emma Yin, soprano and Sedi-Anne Blachford, alto
Spring Carol
      Sasha Feldman, soprano and Enrica Waugh, alto
Deo Gracias

Javier Busto (b. 1949)
Salve Regina

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943), arr. Nadezhda Averina
Bogorotise devo, raduyisia

Christine Donkin (b. 1976)
Emma Yin, Marybeth Ong and Sonia Banker, sopranos
(in order of appearance)

Randall Thompson (1899–1984)
Pueri Hebraeorum

John Rutter (b. 1945)
The Angels’ Carol

Traditional English Carol, arr. Peter Harvey
The Twelve Days of Christmas

Program notes, texts and translations

Download a copy of the program notes, texts and translations here.

About the artists

Founded in 2012, the Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco is recognized nationally and internationally as a world-class choral organization for girls and young women, ages 4-18. YWCP choristers are divided into six levels of choral training where they find their voices as singers, artists, and women in a nurturing environment that empowers them to achieve artistic and personal excellence.

Captivating sound, dynamic programming, sensitive artistry, and musical depth are words used to describe the Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco, the premier ensemble of YWCP. Founded and conducted by Dr. Susan McMane, the Chorus has caught the attention of major arts organizations both here and abroad.

Recent activities include a debut performance at Carnegie Hall in 2018, a concert tour to South Africa in 2019, the premiere of the opera Abraham in Flames in 2019, and performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, and local professional groups Cappella SF and Sonos Handbell Ensemble.

Every year YWCP presents a concert series in the Bay Area and this season the premier chorus performs Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols at Old First Concerts, a special collaboration with Grace Cathedral entitled Boundless Grace, with the San Francisco Ballet School Training Ensemble and guest instrumentalists, a Gala fundraising concert, and two showcase concerts with all four YWCP choruses entitled Angelic Voices and Our Wonderful World. This season’s concerts include premieres by Frank La Rocca and Rollo Dilworth. The Chorus will conclude its season with a concert tour to France.

Acclaimed in the American Record Guide as having “refined and beautifully controlled singing,” the Young Women’s Chorus has won many competitive awards including the American Prize in Choral Performance, the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America, as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award and the ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award, from Chorus America and the American Composers Forum. The ensemble has shared the stage with renowned artists such as Jake Heggie, Frederica von Stade, Christine Brewer, Kronos Quartet, Kitka, Charles Dutoit, Esa-Pekka Salonen and others. Performing repertoire from early music to contemporary selections, the Chorus regularly commissions new works for young women’s voices from leading composers.

Considered one of the finest conductors of choral music in the nation, Dr. Susan McMane, Artistic Director, has centered her professional work on transforming young women’s lives through excellence in choral music. In 2012, she became the founding director of the Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco, where she conducts the auditioned, premier chorus of young women in grades 8–12 and oversees the YWCP training program for younger girls. She encourages her singers to reach for excellence in music and life, and has taken her choirs to important venues including the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., for the first inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama in 2009, to Carnegie Hall and to numerous world stages.

Dr. McMane has won many honors including three GRAMMY® Awards with San Francisco Symphony, and the 2007 “Symphony of Excellence Arts Award” from the Pacific Musical Society. In 2014, her work earned her recognition as an “outstanding community youth choir director” from The American Prize, and in 2017 she was awarded the CEDAW Women’s Human Rights Award for Girl’s Empowerment and Education from the Commission on the Status of Women.

Because of her advocacy for new music, Dr. McMane’s choruses won the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming three times: in 2004, 2011 and 2017. Dr. McMane is responsible for commissioning over 25 new works for young women’s voices from prominent composers such as Chen Yi, Tania León, David Conte, Augusta Read Thomas, Frank La Rocca, Rollo Dilworth and many more. She has prepared her choirs for performances with many leading symphonic conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Helmut Rilling, Charles Dutoit, Nicholas McGegan, and Kurt Masur. In addition, she personally has conducted ensembles on tour in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Canada, Wales, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Japan, South Korea, China and South Africa. In 2011, she was invited to bring her chorus to Cuba, on a cultural exchange mission granted by the U.S. and Cuban governments.

Many high-level musicians have commented on Dr. McMane’s talents. “Susan McMane is one of the finest conductors of choral music I have encountered anywhere. With her at the podium one may always expect excellent music performed at the highest level. And she accomplishes this in a way that makes her beloved to her singers and raises their awareness as musicians and human beings.” (Kirke Mechem, composer) “Her skill as a musical director is most impressive. Her warm relationship with the girls, her musical standards, and her conducting technique are all of the highest order. Her work is not only a gift to the Bay Area; it is a gift to the entire musical world” (Robert Moore, critic for American Record Guide).

Pianist Margaret Halbig moved to the Bay Area in 2011 and joined the accompanying and vocal coaching staff at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has been the pianist for the Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco since 2014. An advocate of new and contemporary music, Margaret has been the pianist for the New Music Collective, Wild Rumpus, since its inception in 2011. Margaret is also the pianist for Frequency 49, a wind and piano chamber ensemble exploring the interdependent relationship between color and sound unique to this combination of instruments. In summer 2016, Margaret joined the faculty of the Bay Area Vocal Academy, providing comprehensive vocal training to young singers, as coach and pianist.

Margaret earned her DMA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, under the tutelage of Robert Koenig and also holds performance degrees from the University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory, and University of Evansville, Indiana. Her primary teachers include Jonathan Feldman, Robert Weirich, and Anne Fiedler.

American harpist Chloe Tula has been widely recognized as a rising talent in the classical music world. Uniquely at ease as both a featured soloist and orchestral musician, Ms. Tula enjoys a varied, most recently having completed a three-year fellowship at the New World Symphony, in Miami Beach, Florida, where she was lauded as a “standout” with “keen musicianship and elegance” (South Florida Classical Review).

In demand for the musicality and clarity she brings to the orchestra, other engagements have included performances with the San Francisco Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, the Santa Fe Opera, and The Knights (NYC). She has worked with conductors from all over the world, including Michael Tilson Thomas, Andris Nelsons, and Stephane Dénève, and artists Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, and John Williams. Ms. Tula was a 2019 Harp Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and has also appeared as Principal Harpist of the Lakes Area Music Festival.

Ms. Tula recognizes the need for being a multi-faceted advocate for music. In the 2018-19 season, she launched an ambitious recital series titled Tales from the Harp in a partnership with the Miami-Dade Public Library System to promote children’s literacy and exposure to the harp in South Florida.

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