Congratulations to the CUW Kammerchor choir and the CUAA Concordia Choir for being named National Semi-finalists for the American Prize.

In 2023, the University of Concordia Wisconsin and Ann Arbor is celebrating ten years together as “One university, two campuses.” What better way to mark that milestone than by having two choirs, one from each campus, competing for the same prestigious national award?

Earlier this month, CUW’s Kammerchor vocal ensemble and CUAA’s The Concordia Choir were both named National Semi-finalists in the choral performance—college/university (smaller program) division for the American Prize. It’s a high honor only a handful of ensembles are bestowed each year.

This week, Kammerchor and its director, Dr. Alexa Doebele, were named National Semi-finalists for the American Prize Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music in the college/university ensemble and conductor division.

“We love it when we’re able to celebrate student achievement on both our campuses at the same time,” says CUWAA President Erik Ankerberg, PhD. “We may be located in different time zones, but we remain one in the Spirit and one in our mission to serve Christ and glorify God, especially through the arts.”

A blessed coincidence

Ironically, neither of the groups’ directors knew the other was also entering the competition. Now they are very happy to be celebrating together.

“We are thrilled for our combined Music Department at CUWAA to be honored for choral excellence in this way,” says Dr. John Boonenberg, assistant professor of music at CUAA and the Kreft Endowed Chair in Music. “CUWAA is carrying on the time-honored tradition of top-notch choral performance at Lutheran collegiate institutions at both of our campuses, and our students continue to shine brightly and use their God-given gifts to inspire.”

The 2021-22 CUAA Concordia Choir was honored for its performance at the annual “Concordia at Hill” concert in May 2022. The 2021-22 CUW Kammerchor was honored for a performance at the 2022 Spring Concert.

Small schools, big accomplishment

Even though she feels confident that Kammerchor could compete at the highest levels, Doebele, director of choral activities at CUW, is glad the competition has recently instituted a separate division for smaller colleges and universities.

“It’s nice to have a greater opportunity to let the world know about the excellence of our choral programs,” says Doebele. “Neither CUW nor CUAA has a huge choral program like the big state schools do, but we’re just as proud of what our students are capable of accomplishing.”

Finalists for the prize will be announced later this spring, with winners named later in the year.

About Kammerchor (CUW)

2021-22 Kammerchor

Director: Dr. Alexa Doebele

Kammerchor (German for “chamber choir”) is an auditioned mixed voice ensemble of approximately 40 singers, which sings a wide variety of choral literature from the Renaissance to the present, including concert pieces, anthems, spirituals, and hymns. As a touring ensemble, Kammerchor has sung in worship and concert virtually all over the continental USA, several times to Canada, and overseas to locations as varied as Brazil, China, and several locations in Europe.

About the Concordia Choir (CUAA)

The CUAA Concordia Choir performs at Hill Auditorium in 2022.

Director: Dr. John Boonenberg

The Concordia University Choir is a select ensemble comprised of approximately 50 students from many academic disciplines of the university. The choir performs a wide variety of sacred choral literature ranging from Renaissance motets to the masterworks of the twentieth century. Since the founding of Concordia, Ann Arbor in 1963, the Concordia Choir has maintained a reputation of excellence in choral music and performs regularly both on and off campus.

About the American Prize

The American Prize sponsors a wide range of prestigious competitions designed to “evaluate, recognize and reward the best performers, ensembles, composers and administrators” across the United States. Since its inception in 2010, thousands of entrants from all 50 states have competed in divisions that include professional, college/university, community, and high school age solo artists and groups.

The Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music recognizes and rewards the best performances of American music by ensembles and individual artists worldwide, based on submitted recordings. Applications are accepted from professional, college/university, community and high school age solo artists, chamber ensembles or conducted ensembles, competing in separate divisions, and from composers with excellent recordings of their works.

Want in?

Since 1881, Concordia University’s mission has been teaching and preparing students for careers and vocations that serve The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Music has always been an integral part of that mission. The music department contributes to the spiritual, cultural, artistic, academic and co-curricular aspects to University life on campus. As the campus has grown in scope and size the music department has become more integral to the University mission.