Chamber Singers build community, prepare to premiere commissioned piece

By , Reporter  |  Tuesday, March 6, 2012 6:02 PM

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St. Thomas Chamber Singers will perform a piece Jorge Cozatl, a Mexican composer, wrote exclusively for the choir’s March 9 and 10 concert in Orchestra Hall.

Cozatl flew from Mexico by invitation to meet with the Chamber Singers in October. Since then, he has been working with them on the piece titled “Pasar la Vida,” which means “to spend the life” in English.

“It was a challenge for me in the beginning because normally I compose for high school students, and you have to compose in a way for them to understand,” Cozatl said. “But here, it’s been another capacity for composing.”

Cozatl said Chamber Singers Director Angela Broeker is “amazing” with the choir, and the ensemble is “fabulous” to work with.

“I want to share culture, Mexican tradition, composing and life,” Cozatl said. “What we are sharing (in this experience) is life.”

Several of the Chamber Singers had only great things to say about their rehearsal time with Cozatl and that this experience has been a privilege for them.

Sophomore Greg Billion said it has been “such a gift” to work with Cozatl.

“Just the fact that he has commissioned a piece specifically for our ensemble, our sound, our personality and color is such a privilege that many choirs will never be given,” Billion said.

Sophomore Abby Graf said that the opportunity to work with Cozatl has brought the ensemble closer together.

“We are all from different places, we have different majors – this is the one thing we share in this coral experience together,” Graf said. “There’s a sense of community that links this piece and this ensemble together; it’s really special.”

This isn’t the first time junior music education major Tommy Glass has had the opportunity to work with a composer at St. Thomas. He said singers often develop an “emotional attachment” to the pieces they perform, and Cozatl’s is no different.

“This (piece), to me, is trying to say so much,” Glass said. “We are all searching for something; it’s sort of a musical journey.”

Cozatl told the ensemble that the piece is simply about sharing life.

“What we do…we work, we study, we sing; but what we really do is share,” Cozatl said. “That’s what this piece is really about; it’s about living.”

Graf said she is excited to finally perform “Pasar la Vida” to an audience for the first time.

“It’s incredible to be working with (a piece) that is totally new, that people have never heard before, and you’re interpreting it for the first time in front of the composer,” Graf said. “I can’t wait to premiere this piece. It’s going to be a wonderful experience.”

Billion added that the choir is very thankful for Cozatl’s work.

“Jorge put his whole heart in this piece, and we are very thankful for that,” Billion said. “He shared his heart, emotions and his life with us while taking part in this project.”

Terese Quarberg can be reached at

This item was posted in Audio, Media Commons, More News, News, Photos and has 1 comment so far.

1 Comment

  1. Stefan Wolf
    Mar. 7, 2012 9:01 AM

    The piece will be performed this weekend, March 9th and 10th, 8PM at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The concert will be shared with VocalEssence and the Rose Ensemble. Tickets can be purchased at !

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