Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

U of R launches one-of-a-kind vocal chamber music degree

Key faculty for the new Master of Music in Vocal Chamber Music program include (left to right) Nicholle Andrews, Christopher Gabbitas, and Joseph Modica. (Photo by Coco McKown ’04, ’10)

Music students seeking a professional career as choral musicians can soon apply for the one-of-a-kind Master of Music in Vocal Chamber Music at the University of Redlands School of Music. Beginning in September 2019, the new program will tap internationally known performer Christopher Gabbitas of The King’s Singers, who will join award-winning U of R faculty Nicholle Andrews and Joseph Modica.

“The engagement of Artist-Professor Christopher Gabbitas as our colleague enhances the international prestige of the School of Music,” said U of R President Ralph W. Kuncl, “and will undoubtedly recruit budding choral artists from around the world.” 

“This new program is a unique opportunity for singers to become choral artists of the highest caliber,” added Andrew Glendening, dean of the U of R School of Music. “The professional opportunities are truly exciting.” 

This two-year master’s program will enroll eight students each year, who will complete 32 units—16 units over two summer sessions and 16 online units over four semesters. This schedule will enable the students to continue their professional performing careers during the program.

The program coursework will focus on both highly advanced ensemble singing and the commercial understanding of what it takes to be a professional vocal chamber musician. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the principal eras of Western classical choral music and their most prominent composers, including contemporary performance practice, concert and recording repertoire, recording techniques and preparation, and 360-degree analysis of professional choral music-making within a chamber choir context. 

Courses will include vocal diction, Western polyphonic music through the ages, body mapping, and succeeding in the music industry. Each cohort of students will rehearse and perform in quartets, octets, and larger chamber choirs. 

“This unique degree course seeks to teach students how to deal with the business aspects of the music industry—from setting up an entity, presenting events and fundraising, to the process of making, distributing and selling recordings,” Gabbitas said. “Musical excellence, of course, remains the key to success, and students will first and foremost be expected to bring outstanding musicianship and choral ability to the course, but this is so much more than simply a chamber music degree—this is for singers who want to create the next wave of professional ensembles within the United States and beyond.”

Andrews and Modica look forward to working with Gabbitas in the new endeavor.

“Joseph and I are excited to have Christopher join our team,” said Andrews. “Christopher’s experiences as an internationally renowned performing artist will bring real life experiences that move beyond those of the academic realm. In bringing together our unique skillsets and personalities, there is no doubt our students will benefit from our multiplicity of perspectives.” 

For more information on the new program, visit U of R’s Master of Music in Vocal Chamber Music web pages.