Plymouth Church UCC Welcomes Choral Arts NW as first choral Ensemble-in-Residence

Following a large scale renovation of its sanctuary enhancing the acoustic and replacing an organ damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, Plymouth Church UCC has invited Choral Arts NW (CANW) to assume residency with the start of its 2016-17 season. “With nearly four seconds of reverb the Plymouth sanctuary is an ideal choral environment,” said former Plymouth Music Director and Organist, Douglas Cleveland. “So it made sense to reach out to one of Seattle’s best choral ensembles to take advantage of the new possibilities.”

Founded in 1993, CANW recently returned from Washington DC where the group provided a command holiday performance at the White House for guests of President and First Lady Obama. Led by Artistic Director Robert Bode, the all-volunteer community ensemble has won the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence (2010); and the American Prize for choral performance (community division) twice, placing first in 2010 and second in 2013. Under Dr. Bode’s direction, the group has also been awarded coveted performing slots at the 2015 ACDA National Conference, the 2013 Chorus America National Conference, and the 2010 ACDA Regional Conference. The group currently also has seven commercially-released recordings on the Gothic label, and in the past 10 years has commissioned well over 20 new choral works from leading composers around the world.

Arts-Informed Worship

Plymouth’s new, one-of-a-kind Fisk organ (itself named Opus #140) was designed to produce a French romantic sound. As a result, Plymouth and CANW will kick-off the new partnership by reprising their 2015 collaboration to perform Maurice Duruflé’s beloved “Requiem” on Sunday, September 25 as the opening concert of CANW’s 2016-17 season. CANW will also periodically provide liturgical music and is looking forward to exploring how both communities can work together to further overlapping goals in the areas of youth outreach and senior ministry.

A multigenerational congregation with strong youth and family programs and vibrant partnerships with local senior communities, Plymouth places a high value on the arts to provide aesthetic, multi-sensory worship experiences that point to the reality of life beyond the obvious. CANW’s youth outreach focuses on helping students connect to poetic and choral art forms to express their unique perspective about those hidden realities. In fact, CANW’s signature educational program, Finding Your Voice, pairs a Washington State 6th-12th grade poet with an award-winning composer to create the central work of our season finale concert each May.

“We’re interested in exploring how to continually connect our programming to our community,” said CANW Artistic Director Robert Bode. “So much of our annual season is new music, a great portion of which are works we ourselves commission and premiere. This presents a unique opportunity for us to engage audiences by actively exploring different perspectives and ideas within our community, and seems like an ideal complement for Plymouth’s worship environment.”