Choral Music at UCI

Bright Past. Brilliant Future. This slogan, which celebrated UCI’s 50th anniversary in 2017, applies equally well to UCI’s choral program—and to its place in the Southern California choral tradition. Founded by legendary conductor Roger Wagner, UCI’s choral program was directed in later years by choral luminaries including Maurice Allard and William Hall. From 1977 to 2014, the program was directed by Joseph Huszti, who trained generations of choral leaders and who led UCI’s choral ensembles to success at international competitions around the world. Since 2015, the program has been directed by Seth Houston.

Under Houston’s leadership, the choral program at UCI strives to be:

  • A rigorous choral program that trains UCI students in the great traditions and emerging trends in choral music
  • A creative community that imagines, through its musical work and collaborations, new directions in human expression through the choral arts
  • A nexus for excellence and innovation that brings together current students, alumni, high schools and junior colleges, peer universities, and professionals and professional ensembles from Southern California and around the world.

The program centers on UCI Chamber Singers, an elite ensemble consisting of vocal arts majors and talented non-majors from across the university. It also supports UCI’s vocal arts program, especially the opera program, and student organizations including the student- and alumni-directed choirs of Choirs@UCI and an a cappella ensemble. You don’t need to be a music major to audition for UCI Chamber Singers! For audition information, please contact please contact Dr. Houston.

Highlights for the 2018-2019 season include:

  • October 9 & 11, 2018. Performing the world premiere of Oscillations: One Hundred Years and Forever, by Ellen Reid, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at the Keck Amphitheater of Walt Disney Concert Hall, together with singers from USC Thornton Choral Artists and the Donald Brinegar Singers, guest vocalists and percussion, and video artists.
  • March 9, 2019. Hosting the 90th annual PSICA intercollegiate festival at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
  • March 15, 2019. Winter concert, “Sonority,” with guest composer and conductor Zanaida Robles, at Winifred Smith Hall.
  • May 3, 2019. Performing at “Celebrate Music at UCI,” in the Irvine Barclay Theatre. 
  • May 4, 2019. Hosting the 2nd annual AcaLove a cappella choral festival, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
  • May 11-12, 2019. UCI Opera presents Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
  • June 1, 2019. Performing crowd out, by David Lang, in a large collaborative performance, conducted by Lesley Leighton, at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
  • June 5, 2019. Performing Dona Nobis Pacem, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, in Winifred Smith Hall.

Highlights of the 2015-18 seasons include:

  • Presenting the pre-premiere “workshop performance” of Ellen Reid’s dreams of the new world, which was commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
  • Hosting composers Morten Lauridsen and Moira Smiley for residencies and concerts of their works.
  • Performing the Brahms Requiem with CSU Long Beach, Riverside City College, and the UCI Symphony, and performing Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.”
  • Hosting composer Hyo-Won Woo and conductors Joseph Flummerfelt, Jo-Michael Scheibe, Donald Brinegar, and Jonathan Talberg for workshops and masterclasses.
  • Hosting the first annual AcaLove a cappella festival.
  • Performing annually at the PSICA intercollegiate choral festival and at “Celebrate Music at UCI.”
  • Collaborating with UCI faculty Hossein Omoumi, Kei Akagi, Kojiro Umezaki, Frances Bennett, Stephen Tucker, Bobby Rodriguez, and Kevin McKeown and UCI ensembles including the symphony orchestra, wind ensemble, and jazz orchestra.
  • Supporting UCI Opera’s productions of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Rorem’s Our Town, and Puccini’s Suor Angelica, under the artistic direction of Darryl Taylor.
  • Attending concerts at Segerstrom Concert Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and USC’s Bovard Auditorium.
  • Annual retreats, including bonfires on the beach.

Applications for undergraduate admission to UCI are due November 30. Prospective music majors in vocal arts must also submit a pre-screening video, which is due December 15. Admissions auditions are held during the third and fourth weekends of January. Choral auditions are held during Welcome Week in September and at the beginning of every quarter. For more information on choral opportunities at UCI, please contact Dr. Houston or the music office.

Please visit us at the UCIchoral YouTube channel