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California Catholic Collegiate Choral Festival

As the voices of 120 choral singers reverberated in the Santa Clara Mission church, they created magic—and made history. Singers from four other Catholic universities joined the Santa Clara University Chamber Singers on October 23, 2015 for the inaugural California Catholic Collegiate Choral Festival, or “C4." “It was a wonderful opportunity to create art with talented singers outside the SCU community,” said Pavel Klier ’16, a singer who is a Physics and Biochemistry double-major with a minor in Music.

That is exactly what Director of Choral Activities Dr. Scot Hanna-Weir had in mind when he sought the collaboration of the other schools to launch C4. “Getting to host the four other schools was a treat. It was inspiring to see other students as excited about making choral music as our students. It was also exciting to have that many talented students all together in one ensemble.”

Under the direction of Dr. Edward Maclary, from the University of Maryland, the chamber choirs of Loyola Marymount University, St. Mary's College of California, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco, and Santa Clara University, delivered memorable performances individually and collectively. “Events like this particularly embrace the capacity for collaboration that the arts allow. Students from five different schools were able to come together, not to compete, but to work together to bring beautiful art to performance,” said Hanna-Weir. He set the tone when he approached Dr. Emilie Amrein, a faculty member from USD, while they were both singing in a professional choir recently there. Excited about the prospect of musical collaboration among the Catholic universities in California, they then met with Dr. Julie Ford, director of choirs at Saint Mary's College, and together they outlined the blueprint of the first festival. Santa Clara emerged as a natural host because of its central location and its Mission, whose beauty and acoustic qualities made it the ideal setting for the event. “We want SCU to be known as a place where serious choral music happens, and participating in the broader community of choral music in the state is an important step in that direction,” he said.

For Hanna-Weir’s students, the festival was one of their required, outside-of-class performances. About half of the students enrolled in his Chambers Singers class this quarter are Music majors, though many also have a second major.

“As someone heavily involved in the sciences, music is a way for me to connect to a different side of myself, and I think my music education at Santa Clara has really expanded me as a person. Music also exercises certain skills such as collaboration and creativity that are applicable in all fields of life,” said Klier.