Nov. 21, 2022 —CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI)’s winter concert— “De Colores, A Cultural Celebration of Choral Music”— will sweep the audience around the world with musical selections from Mexico to South Korea to East Africa to Great Britain and more.  

 “I have had so much fun programming musical selections that reflect a wide range of cultures and their languages,” said the director of the Channel Islands University Chorus, KuanFen Liu, who holds a doctorate in Musical Arts (DMA). “We have had native speakers come in to teach us diction and pronunciation to make sure we are honoring the languages as best we can.”  

In Liu’s continuing quest to highlight underrepresented musicians, the beginning of the program will feature pieces by Black and women composers, such as “Through the Dark,” by award-winning American composer Andrea Ramsey; “We Shall Walk Through the Valley” by Undine Smith Moore, known as the American “Dean of Black women composers”; and the 23rd Psalm by Black musician/composer Bobby McFerrin, which he wrote for his mother.  

 The 55-member chorus, which is comprised of members of the CSUCI campus and the community, learned the correct pronunciation for pieces such as “TāReKiṬa” by Indian-American composer Reena Esmail, which is performed without musical accompaniment, using voices to mimic instruments. The choir learned the piece syllable by syllable, phrase by phrase.  

The choir also learned enough Swahili to sing a piece called “Baba Yetu” by Grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin. It will be accompanied by the djembe, a traditional African drum.  

 The musical selections will demonstrate how music can unify cultures, such as one song in which two soloists weave a song together in both Arabic and Hebrew.  

 “The Arirang is popular in both North and South Korea, for example, even though they’re divided. These are folk songs people sing to give themselves courage when times were tough,” Liu said. “To remind themselves better days are coming so we must keep strong.”  

A highlight of the program will be selections from “Jubilate Deo” by American composer Dan Forrest, which will be sung in seven different languages. In December, the Chorus will sing two out of seven movements.  The Chorus will sing its entirety of seven movements in April 2023.  

“It’s inclusiveness, understanding different languages, different cultures, different music,” Liu said. “It can all break down barriers. The reason there is hostility between cultures is because we don’t understand one another, and when we don’t understand one another, we exclude one another.” 

The concert will also include the Santa Paula High School Concert Choir under the direction of CSUCI alumnus Jerry Cruz.  

“We’re including 30 Santa Paula High School singers,” Liu said. “This is our effort to continue to do our part to develop wonderful choral programs in high schools. This is our way of exposing high school students to choral music by having them come to rehearsals and we’re going to sing at Santa Paula High School.”  

“Ventura County is very blessed to have a diverse cultural representation that makes our community rich, strong, and vibrant,” said Dean Butler, president of the Channel Islands Choral Association (CICA), which sponsors the University Chorus.  

Concerts are scheduled for Friday, December 2, 7 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 25 N. Las Posas Rd., Camarillo and Sunday, December 4, 3 p.m. at the Santa Paula High School Auditorium, 404 N. 6th St., Santa Paula. A $20 donation will be requested at the door to help support choral music in Ventura County.   

Back to Top ↑