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Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco – December 15, 2023

Friday, December 15, 2023 at 8 pm

download a copy of this program here.

Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco
Carols by Candlelight

Matthew Otto, Artistic Director
Sian Wittke, assistant conductor
Margaret Halbig, collaborative pianist
Bradley Christensen, baritone
Amos Yang, cello


Cecil Frances Alexander (1818–1895), arr. David Willcocks (1919–2015)
Sing-Along Carol: Once in Royal David’s City
            Zoë Cort & Laura Petrocelli, soloists

Welcome & Land Acknowledgement

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), arr. Matthew Otto (b. 1985)
Fantasia on Christmas Carols
            Bradley Christensen, baritone; Amos Yang, cello

Bob Chilcott (b. 1955)

Pietro Yon (1886–1943)
Gesù Bambino
            Bradley Christensen, baritone; Matthew Otto, organ

Franz Biebl (1906–2001)
Ave Maria
            Heron Lundeen & Sadie Oliver, soloists
            Eve Nudd, Catherine Ong, Zoë Cort, Aria Gupta, Saskia Petitt, Audrey Wong, sextet

English Traditional, arr. David Willcocks (1919–2015)
Sing-Along Carol: The First Nowell

Hildegard von Bingen (circa 1098–1179)
Karitas habundat
Karitas à Four, arr. Zanaida Robles (b. 1979)

J.S. Bach (1685–1750)
Christe eleison from Mass in B Minor

Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978)
            Eve Nudd & Lily Galante, soloists

Adolphe Adam (1803–1856)
O Holy Night
            Bradley Christensen, baritone; Matthew Otto, organ

Traditional Spiritual, arr. Rollo Dilworth (b. 1970)
Go, Tell It on the Mountain

English Traditional, arr. Paul Carrey (b. 1954)
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Felix Bartholdy-Mendelssohn (1809–1847), arr. David Willcocks (1919–2015)
Sing-Along Carol: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Franz Xavier Gruber (1787–1863), arr. John Rutter (b. 1945)
Stille Nacht/Silent Night

View the sung texts and translations here

Land Acknowledgement

We wish to acknowledge that the Young Women’s Choral Projects operates on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone, the original peoples of the San Francisco Peninsula. The area comprising the City and County of San Francisco was originally inhabited by the Yelamu, an independent tribe of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples. We affirm their sovereign rights as First Peoples and pay our respects to their ancestors, elders, and relatives. We also recognize that, as settlers, we continue to benefit from living and working on their traditional homeland. We strive to deepen our own understanding of local Indigenous communities and ways of knowing, uplift contemporary Indigenous voices and cultures, and reframe our responsibilities to land and community. At YWCP, we are grateful for the opportunity to make music on this land.

About the musicians

The Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco transforms the lives of young women through exceptional artistry in choral performance and brings the expressive power of their music to the community, the nation, and the world. Founded in 2012 by Dr. Susan McMane, and now led by Artistic Director Dr. Matthew Otto, YWCP includes six levels of choral experience for young women ages 4-18 from across the San Francisco Bay Area. Through YWCP, participants of richly diverse socio-ethnic backgrounds find their voices as singers, artists, and women in a nurturing environment that empowers them to achieve artistic and personal excellence.

The Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco is the premier ensemble of the Young Women’s Choral Projects. The Chorus comprises singers ages 12-18, and has been praised for its beauty of sound, stellar musicianship, and dynamic programming. Acclaimed in the American Record Guide for its “refined and beautifully controlled singing,” the Young Women’s Chorus has also won many competitive, national awards including the American Prize in Choral Performance, the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America and American Composers Forum, and the ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award. Recent activities include a debut performance at Carnegie Hall in 2018; concert tours to South Africa (2019), France (2022), and Argentina (2023); the premiere of the opera Abraham in Flames in 2019; and performances with the London Philharmonia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. Performing repertoire from early music to contemporary selections, the Chorus annually performs a professional series of concerts in the Bay Area, and commissions new works by leading composers.

Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco

Noemi Barbagli
Lena Beer
Amelia Cheung
Alex Cohen
Imogen Cornes
Zoë Cort ✦
Nola Evans
Chloe Faison ★
Camille Fanvu
Charlotte Fanvu
Lily Galante ★
Rowan Gleser
Anna-Sophia Gruzman
Aria Gupta
Cecilia Heath ★
Beatrice Hord
Nora Hunter
Hilde Kirsch Kutz
Lydia Kleinbart
Heron Lundeen ✧
Claire Malaney-Lau
Kalpana Narlikar ★
Amelie Nordström
Eve Genie Nudd
Sadie Oliver ★
Catherine Ong ★
Saskia Petitt
Laura Petrocelli
Aria Ramsinghani ✦
Kären Rindal
Jodie Rivera ✧
Hazel Robinson
Naomi Williams
Sarah Wolfe ★
Audrey Wong ★
Sophienne Yuen

Chorus Manager    Section Leader        Music Librarian

Dr. Matthew Otto, Artistic Director, is an award-winning Canadian conductor, educator, and collaborator. From 2010-2023, he served on the faculty of the world- renowned Toronto Children’s Chorus, including as Director of Education and Interim Artistic Director. In addition to conducting several ensembles, he oversaw their choral curriculum, educational outreach programs, and conductor apprentice program. In 2013, he co-founded the Toronto Youth Choir (TYC) to offer a space for innovation, inclusion, and musical excellence to youth and young adults ages 14-30. During his tenure, the TYC performed with The King’s Singers, Irish Youth Choir, Choir of Trinity College Melbourne, musica intima, Missouri State University Chorale, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

As a strong advocate for the choral arts in Canada, Matthew was President of Choirs Ontario, a board member of Choral Canada, and a founding member of Bridge Choral Collective. He has worked extensively as a guest conductor, lecturer, clinician, and adjudicator. In 2016, Matthew co-organized Chorus America’s Choral Management Institute in Toronto and served on its faculty.

Matthew has led performances of Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Mass in C Minor and Coronation Mass, Bach’s St. John & St. Matthew Passions, and has prepared choruses for Helmuth Rilling, Peter Oundjian, Masaaki Suzuki, Donald Runnicles, Nicholas McGegan, Bramwell Tovey, and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Passionate about music’s role in Western liturgy, Matthew has served as music director at several Toronto churches, most recently Christ Church Deer Park. From 2021–2023, he was a lecturer in Choral Music Education at the University of Toronto and, in 2022, directed their Soprano-Alto Chamber Choir.

Matthew holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition, Master of Music in Conducting, and Ph.D. in Music Education. His doctoral dissertation is entitled “Let the Music Win!” Towards a Re-imagined Choral Pedagogy: A Phenomenological Case Study of Chorister Experience at the Toronto Children’s Chorus, and traces the impact of high-level choral singing on youth.

Young Women’s Chorus Assistant Conductor Sian Wittke has a degree in Music Education with an emphasis on Choral Conducting from Berklee College of Music. Sian began teaching music in Boston in 2014 and was the choral director at Orchard Gardens School for two years before moving back to the Bay Area. She has worked with the Boston Children’s Chorus as well as the Oakland Youth Chorus, and was YWCP’s Choral Fellow in the 2017-18 season. Sian was the music director at San Francisco’s Adda Clevenger School for the past four years, and now teaches at Hamlin School.

Pianist Dr. Margaret Halbig moved to the Bay Area in 2011 and joined the accompanying and vocal coaching staff at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 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.

Bradley Christensen enjoys a busy multi-faceted career as a baritone, voice teacher, and guest clinician, and has continued to earn praise for his “most well-rounded instrument … focused, rich, and sympathetically communicative” (Natasha Gauthier, Ottawa Citizen). He holds four degrees: a BMUS (Hons) in Vocal Performance and a BA in Italian, both from the University of Auckland, and a MMus and a DMA in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Toronto. In 2016, he was invited by The Royal Conservatory of Toronto to hold one of seven positions in its prestigious Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program. He also furthered his development as a young artist with Opera on the Avalon, Highlands Opera Studio, and Opera North.

Bradley has had the pleasure of working with many arts organizations across Canada and internationally through the realms of opera, operetta, oratorio, chamber music, song recitals, and musical theater. Recent performance highlights include appearances with: Canadian Opera Company Concert Series, Cultureland Opera Collective, Confluence Concerts, Choral Connection, Bach Elgar Choir, New Opera Lyra, as well as a performance in Auckland, New Zealand of Brahms’ song cycle, Die schöne Magelone, staged by Aria Umezawa. Bradley made his US debut in 2017 performing the role of Agamemnon with Opera North in Offenbach’s La belle Hélène, while also covering the role of Fred/Petruccio in Cole Porter’s Kiss me Kate.

Awards include the Sondra Radvanovsky scholarship, awarded by the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists as one of 10 ‘Singing Stars: The Next Generation’; the Pears-Britten singing scholarship (University of Auckland); the Marie D’Albini scholarship in singing (University of Auckland); and a travelling scholarship to study in Italy in 2007 (University of Auckland). Bradley has also been a top 10 finalist in the New Zealand Aria Competition, the LEXUS Song Quest and the Rochester International Voice Competition.

Amos Yang has been assistant principal cellist with the San Francisco Symphony since 2007. He was previously a member of the Seattle Symphony. Yang has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, the Far East, and Europe, appearing at the Aspen Music Festival, the American Academy in Rome, Wigmore Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. He has collaborated with the Ying Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, pianists Ann Schein and Melvin Chen, violinist Earl Carlyss, and composer Bright Sheng.

Yang’s awards include the Performer’s Certificate at the Eastman School of Music and first prizes in the American String Teachers Association and Grace Vamos competitions. He was a finalist in the Pierre Fournier International Cello Competition and was awarded the CD Jackson Prize at the Tanglewood Music Festival for outstanding musical contribution.

Born and raised in San Francisco, he was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and San Francisco Boys Chorus. Yang holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School. His primary teachers have included Irene Sharp, Channing Robbins, Paul Katz, and Steven Doane. From 1996 to 2002, he was the cellist in the Maia String Quartet. He also served on the faculties of the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Iowa, Grinnell College, and the Interlochen Advanced String Quartet Institute. Yang serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Academy Orchestra.

Old First Concerts has volunteer opportunities available!

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distributing programs

box office

set-up and clean-up

Scheduling is flexible — you choose when to work! We especially need helping hands for our Friday and Saturday night performances.

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