Photo of students posed in choral performance space.

2021 Spring Choral Concert Program

Presented by Avila University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the School of Performing Arts

Performance Notes by Dr. Amity Bryson, Chair of the School of Performing Arts & Professor of Music

“I Lift My Voice”

Andrea Ramsey

Dr. Andrea Ramsey is a gift to collegiate choirs—her teaching experience ranges from adolescent and children’s voices to mature collegiate ensembles. She understands the human voice and more importantly the singer’s heart.  This piece “I Will Lift My Voice” was written for the Justice Choir Songbook.  This grassroots movement is rooted in the goal of engaging in the empathetic, collaborative, and collective power of singing together to create change in our world.

We are engaging in “call and response” the performance practice of a sung phrase to draw the singers into the song.  “When they try to divide us, it will only unite us—I lift my voice” is an ode to return to singing together after a year of social distance.  When traveling and touring with choirs from Avila I have often used this method to “find” my singers in the crowded streets of Italy and Paris!  We are finding one another again even on campus.

“All Good Gifts” from Godspell

Stephen Schwartz arr. by John Leavitt

Daniel Hicks, tenor &
Danielle Adcock, soprano;
Garland Moore, tenor

We began working on “All Good Gifts” last fall semester.  The pandemic required that we rehearsed virtually using technology such as Zoom, SoundTrap, SoundJACK and everything we could think of (note: no one likes ZoomChoir!) But we gained and maintained sight-reading skills that we will always use.

This song, from the musical Godspell, was a perfect Covid undertaking for Avila students. The musical, which opened Off-Broadway in 1971 began as a project by theatre students at Carnegie Melon University.  At the end of Act I this song is presented within the context of the Parable of the Sower: “seeds” are sown with no soil, some on rocky soil, some soil with thorns and some on good soil.  We may have obstacles, but if we are receptive to growth we will reap yields of thirty-, sixty-, or a hundred-fold.

“The Courage to Be Who We Are”

Ruth Herbert

“The Courage to Be Who We Are” is also published in the Justice Choir Songbook.  Ruth Herbert composed this piece in memory of Gwen Araujo, an American Latinx teenager murdered in Newark, California in 2002.  The year 2020 exposed many of our students to elements of loss they had not yet experienced during their short lives.  Our students have faced this year with courage, determination and unparalleled grace.  In honor of those we have lost this year, we lift their names and honor their memories.

In memory of Gwen Amber Rose Araujo and to celebrate the lives of beautiful and courageous trans people everywhere. Today we celebrate the lives of our loved ones lost in 2020.


Eric Whitacre

The text of Eric Whitacre’s “Sleep” was written by Charles Anthony Silvestri AFTER Whitacre had written the music.  This unusual turn-about came due to a legal battle over the rights to Whitacre’s original text of choice.  Silvestri was solicited to write a text in the exact structure of Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.”  While the message in the music changed dramatically, the beauty of the work was not lost.

The students have responded deeply to this text during this unusual year. I thought originally this was connected to their desire to just sleep—but through class discussion we have explored dreams, hopes and harmonies that inspire me as well.  The unaccompanied structure of this piece requires a true ENSEMBLE.  No one voice part has the melody—the vertical harmonies are the true beauty of this work.  As you can imagine, rehearsing this song individually and virtually was a bit of a nightmare.  The joy of returning to in person rehearsals in mid-March was a requirement for our performance today.


The evening hangs beneath the moon,
A silver thread on darkened dune.
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon.

Upon my pillow, safe in bed,
A thousand pictures fill my head,
I cannot sleep, my mind’s a-flight;
And yet my limbs seem made of lead.

If there are noises in the night,
A frightening shadow, flickering light;
Then I surrender unto sleep,
Where clouds of dream give second sight.

What dreams may come, both dark and deep,
Of flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep,
Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep. . .

“When All Colors Turn to Love”

David Meece

“When All Colors Turn to Love” was a favorite song of my own as a teenager.  As I chose pieces to work this year I decided early on to only perform songs that make us feel good, offer positive messages and speak to our hearts in these unprecedented times.  The students’ response to this 1980s ballad makes my heart sing!

“Say Her Name”

Alysia Lee

Taylor Williams, soprano

Alysia Lee composed “Say Her Name” this year in response to the heartbreaking injustice of systemic racism.  “Say Her Name” was premiered in November 2020 by the University of Michigan choir.  The #SayHerName movement resists police brutality against Black women.  Alysia Lee is the Coordinator of Fine Arts for the Maryland State Department of Education, the Founder and Artistic Director of Sister Cities GirlChoir, a faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, and a board member for Chorus America.  She talks about how we don’t see pieces that represent ideas that would come from Black and Brown student’s minds—about how there is not a lot of culturally responsive choir repertoire. When a friend said to her “well, you’re a musician.  You went to school.  Can’t you write the songs?”  She states “this year was the year to branch out and be a little more vulnerable. . .”


Abbie Betinis

“Resilience” by Abbie Betinis reflects the heart and spirit of this year.  Churchill said “Never, never, never give up” but this persistence is a significant challenge.  According to Betinis, the noted theologian and scholar, Otis Moss III says that ‘we can build our beloved community by looking to include our most vulnerable.’ Our hope is that the Justice Choir Songbook allows for all who desire to sing for justice, all who hunger for a beloved community, to have a resource to help begin the conversation.  This alone isn’t the solution, but it could be the beginning of the dialogue.”

“The Song Has Just Begun”

Joseph M. Martin

Joseph M. Martin is well known for his composition “The Awakening” but this year “The Song Has Just Begun” was exceptionally relevant for Avila Singers.  Students in Avila Singers represent Performing Arts majors, but also Psychology, Radiological Science and even CyberSecurity.  For these students music is more than a career.  This composer speaks to their purpose as well as their talent.  Martin loves “the sense of bringing drama into the music.” He states that he finds himself “drawn to film scores because they are decorating the action of the film and they create a certain emotional connection to a character or to an emotional moment in the film.  I like to listen to that and how those two things intersect with each other—Purposefulness with artfulness. . .”  


Leonard Cohen arr. by Phillip Lawson

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is a timeless example of love, loss, passion and pain.  The tension and release of the chords reveals the angst of love while providing a fabric of lush tones to reflect upon.  Again, our concert is a compilation of songs that feel good during these challenging times.

“That Which Remains”

Text by Helen Keller
Andrea Ramsey

Andrea Ramsey uses the Helen Keller text “The Open Door” in “That Which Remains” to express love, hope and the crucial things we cannot lose.


What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose, a sunset, a mountain bathed in 
moonlight, the ocean in calm and in storm, we see these, love their beauty, hold 
the vision to our hearts, our hearts.
All we love, all that we love deeply becomes part of us, all we deeply love.
Life is overlord of death, life is stronger than death, and love can never lose it’s own.


“Love is Love is Love is Love”

Abbie Betinis

Abbie Betinis is the Executive Director and Co-Editor of the Justice Choir Songbook.  The project is a powerful new collection of songs for the issues of our time.  Through a gift by the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Minneapolis and many generous songwriters, the Songbook was co-edited by Abbie Betinis, Ahmed Anzaldúa, and Tesfa Wondemagegnehu.  “We hope you use the Justice Choir Songbook to help you and your community raise your voices together for change, equity, love and peace.”

The Big Love Ball was created by Canadian Artist, Wendy Williams Watt.  Big Love Ball is an artistic strategy with the optimistic mission to include and uplift humanity.  “I created Big Love Ball for countless reasons. But simply put, it’s what I feel inside.  It is a physical expression of a feeling I have when I interact with people who are genuinely opening their hearts.”


Joshua Rist

Our Avila students met Joshua Rist in Paris when we performed his work “Invictus” as he sat in the front row applauding.  This young composer hugged each student, signed their scores and selflessly shared words of encouragement long after the concert concluded.  His kind spirit made a signficant impact on each of us—it is an honor to perform any work he has composed.  Rist’s text and music in his 2019 composition “Here” have been a cornerstone of inspiration for University Singers this spring.


Here is where my grieving wanes
as I lay down the corpse of my old name
A new song is rising
Deep in the breath of a waking mind
an ever expanding horizon-line 
where loss and birth are intertwined

Here on the ground where I’m standing in bare feet
a bush in the desert lies burning before me
Pulsing questions coursing through me

Here on the shore of a heavenly ocean 
my mind is illumined and my spirit reopened 
the Cosmos asks me Who are you? Who will you be?

Here around my dreams and doubt 
these questions I must live in and live out
The veil of distraction covering over my inner eye 
the cataract of our design is lifted by the morning light

Here on the ground where I’m standing in bare feet 
a bush in the dessert lies burning before me
Pulsing questions coursing through me

Here on the shore of a heavenly ocean 
my mind is illumined and my spirit reopened
All I am and all I’ll be my thread inside this tapestry
Who are you? who will you be?
I open the door
I feel the wild wood beckon once more:
Who are you? Who will you be?

Choir Members

Headshot of Danielle Adcock
Danielle Adcock
Avila Singers

First Year: Musical Theatre Major
Favorite Color: Light Pink
Best 2020 Memory: “This has been a difficult year, but I’m glad to be continuing my education.”

Headshot of Richard Bertoldie
Richard Bertoldie
Avila Singers & University Singers

Sophomore: Acting & Directing/Producing Major
Favorite Color: Cyan
Why do you sing? “To say what can’t be said in words—to feel what can’t be felt in emotions.”
Favorite Choir Memory: “Singing ‘Hallelejuh’ for the donors of the space I get to sing in!!”

Headshot of Nicholas Castor
Nicholas Castor
Avila Singers & University Singers

First Year: Cybersecurity major/Music minor
Favorite Color: Blue
Best thing that has happened to you this year? “Transferring to Avila”
Favorite Choir Memory: “The LAST ZOOM rehearsal!”

Headshot of Ariana Givens
Ariana Givens
Avila Singers

First Year: Acting major
Favorite Color: Green
Why do you sing? “…because it brings me joy and I like to share that with others.”

Headshot of Mary Hayes
Mary Hayes
Avila Singers & University Singers

First Year: Voice Performance major
Favorite Color: PINK
Best 2020 Memory: “I met some amazing people!”

Headshot of Sierra Hernandez
Sierra Hernandez
Avila Singers

First Year: Communications major
Favorite Color: Red
Why do you sing? “…to feel at peace with myself. It makes me feel like nothing else matters but my voice.”

Headshot of Daniel Hicks
Daniel Hicks
Avila Singers

First Year: Musical Theatre major
Favorite Color: DARK Purple
Something good in 2021: “I bought a five foot stuffed DRAGON”

Headshot of Gracey Hopkins
Gracey Hopkins
Avila Singers & University Singers

Senior: Music major
Favorite Color: Indigo
Why do you sing? “Singing is where I feel the most free to be me.”

Headshot of Paul Joseph
Paul Joseph
Avila Singers & University Singers

Junior: Voice Performance major
Favorite choir memory: “the safe environment where it’s not just about singing.”
Future goals: “to travel the world singing leading roles in opera houses”
Name a friend you’ve made in choir: “EVERYBODY is Paul’s friend!!!”

Headshot of Christian Lucas
Christian Lucas
Avila Singers

Junior: Acting major
Favorite Color: Black
Best thing that happened to you this year? “Coming to Avila as a transfer student. I have met so many new people and have made many new connections.”

Headshot of Garland Moore
Garland Moore
University Singers

Junior: Voice Performance major
Favorite Choir Memory: “Christmas Caroling on the Plaza.”
Future goals: “Graduate so I can start performing, producing, recording and maybe even teach!”

Headshot of Ju Young Morimoto
Ju Young Morimoto
University Singers

Sophomore: Music Tech & Graphic Design major
Favorite Choir Memory: “Just hearing ourselves in the new choir room in general. The room is outstanding and we sound AMAZING!”

Headshot of Eli Peach
Eli Peach
Avila Singers & University Singers

Senior: Theatre major
Favorite Color: Blush and Bashful
Why do you sing? “It makes me feel good.”
Favorite Choir Memory: “Singing ‘Invictus’ in Paris in front of Joshua Rist (the composer).”

Headshot of Amelia Redick
Amelia Redick
Avila Singers

First Year: Radiologic Science major
Favorite Color: Teal
Why do you sing? “It brings me joy!”
Best thing that happened to you this year? “Starting college!”

Headshot of Isabel Seitel
Isabel Seiter
University Singers

Senior: Psychology major & Women’s and Gender Studies minor
Favorite Color: Yellow
Why do you sing? “It brings me a sense of community and reminds me that when you have a passion and you follow it, it brings you a type of joy you didn’t know you needed.”

Headshot of Sadie St. Clair
Sadie St. Clair
University Singers

Senior: Voice Performance major
Favorite Color: Blue
Future Goal: “To become a Chiefs cheerleader.”

Headshot of Adrianna Wendel
Adrianna Wendel
Avila Singers & University Singers

Junior: Theatre & Speech Secondary Education major
Favorite Color: Blue
Why do you sing? “Music is able to bring happiness to all in some sort of way. I love being able to give someone the gift of joy even if it’s only for a short period of time.”

Kaitlyn White
Avila Singers

First Year: Theatre Design and Technology Major
Favorite Color: Green
Why do you sing? “It makes me happy to be making music with others.”

Headshot of Brandon Williams
Brandon Williams
Avila Singers

Junior: Music Tech major
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Choir Memory: “Somehow balancing choir and baseball this spring!”
Future Goal: “…to become a performing artist and engineer in the music industry.”
Best thing that happened to you this year? “Something good that has happened to me in the last year was finding myself again!”

Headshot of Taylor Williams
Taylor Williams
Avila Singers & University Singers

Senior: Music major
Future Goals: “…to be a Music Teacher at an inner-city school.”
Favorite Choir Memory: “…the talks and the emotional connection I have with my peers. I love them all and love making music with them.”

Headshot of Lynn Winkler
Lynn Winkler
Avila Singers

Senior: Acting major
Favorite Color: Orange
Future Goals: To become a voice actor
Something good in 2020: “I got my cat Jaskier.”

Performing Arts Faculty

Dr. Charlene GouldDean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Professor of Theatre
Dr. Amity BrysonChair of the School of Performing Arts, Professor of Music
Dylan G BollingerDirector of Design Technology, Assistant Professor of Theatre
Matt Schwader HarborDirector of Performance Studies, Assistant Professor of Theatre
Dr. Michalis KoutsoupidesAssistant Professor of Music
Dr. Kelly Birch
Nicole Green
John Livingston
Gene Mackey
Dr. Daniel Morel
Andy Perkins
Kristina Ruf
Shannon Smith-Regnier
William Grey Warren
Hope Williams
Adjunct Faculty
Pattie RobertsonAdministrative Assistant

Choir Rules


Have Fun!


Always believe in yourself and never ever give up!

This is the one thing I held onto in the years I have been at Avila. Even when you think your singing the wrong notes or just having a bad day. Never question your abilities and never give up! —Taylor Williams


Be Aware!

You never know when you may discover beauty that you may miss because you were not aware (rule #2 being don’t go after people if you don’t do cardio) —Eli Peach


Sing with your heart and trust yourself!

—Gracey Hopkins


Always have a positive attitude.

—Adrianna Wendel


Let music take control.

There a lot of stressors in life and outside factors, and strict practices even in music and rehearsals. But at the end of the day, it is most important to let that voice without a name take you. Let music own and fuel you. —Richard Bertoldie

Arts at Avila


Rose Marie Falco
Darby, Ellie & Aby Gough
Marcia, Jean & Rosie Pasqualini
Dr. Regina Staves & Ryan Staves
Scott & Diann White


Anne Donze
Mark & Angie Heer
Paul & Mary LeCluyse
Gene & Sheryl Mackey
Monika T. McCoy
Mr. Dennis J. & Mrs. Anna M. O’Hare
Benjamin Pascoe
Dr. J. Anthony & Mrs. Cheryl J. Snorgrass
Sarah Sullivan
Diana & Jim Taylor


Fr. Keith Branson, C.PP.S.
Dr. Amity H. Bryson
Carol K. Coburn, Ph.D.
Mr. Bob Crow & Mrs. Belinda R. Troxler
Leah K. Gensheimer, Ph.D.
Richard & Charlene Gould
Jennifer & Sam Hampton
Matt & Hillary Harbor
Maggie A. & Kevin Lambi
Larry & Jan Marsh
Sue Ellen McCalley
Mr. Nick & Dr. Amy Milakovic
Anya, Suzanne & Dr. Jeffrey Myers
Rob Scoles
Dr. Ronald A. & Mrs. Suzanne Slepitza
Dr. Jordan Wagge & Mr. Richard Snedegar
Jim & Sue Willcox
David & Ginny Woy
Kansas City Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
Helen Alder, CSJ
Laverne Aufmuth, CSJ
Ann Charles Everett, CSJ
Rosemary Flanigan, CSJ
Helen Flemington, CSJ*
Marie Joan Harris, CSJ*
Jeanne Janssen, CSJ
Mary Frances Johnson, CSJ*
Ann Landers, CSJ
Mary Margaret Lazio, CSJ*
Mary Kay Liston, CSJ
Patricia Lorenz, CSJ
Shawn Madigan, CSJ*
Mary McKay, CSJ*
Rose McLarney, CSJ
Marilyn Peot, CSJ
Gabrielle Smits, CSJ
Ruth Stuckel, CSJ
Rita Francis Voivedich, CSJ
*Board of Trustees

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