UM-Flint Music program hosting area high school choirs at upcoming invitational

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choir invitational in a large church
The 46th annual Chamber Choir Invitational will be held on Oct. 24.

Live music is inspiring for performers and audiences alike and the vocalists participating in the 46th annual Chamber Choir Invitational are ready to put on a great show, both for themselves and those in attendance. 

Hosted by the UM-Flint Chamber Singers, a select ensemble of 12 students, including music and nonmusic majors, this year's event will feature 100 high school student participants.

This year's event will happen at 7 p.m., Oct. 24, at the Court Street United Methodist Church, 225 W. Court St., Flint. General admission tickets are $5, but anyone with a valid MCard can attend for free.

"The students in the group are committed to being ambassadors for our university and to share their choral artistry with the surrounding communities," said Gabriela Hristova, UM-Flint associate professor of music. 

Each year Hristova invites different high schools to the choir invitational to encourage a wide range of student participation and to allow for more high schoolers to be exposed to the downtown campus and a festival choral performance. 

The participating high schools for the 2022 Chamber Choir Invitational are Milan, Durand, Davison, Swartz Creek and Flushing. 

Hristova says that engaging with area high school choirs also creates visibility and opportunities for the university to maintain relationships with the surrounding communities.

"It's inspiring to see that most choirs participating in this year's invitational are directed by UM-Flint music alumni," said Hristova. 

Hristova works with many of the music teachers at the Summer Vocal Academy of Music, an immersive event on campus for area middle and high school students with a strong emphasis on vocal music.

Program growth is an additional benefit of hosting events like the Invitational as well, according to Hristova. 

"A continuing trend that I've observed is that some of the high school students who participate in the invitational choose to attend UM-Flint and some major in music or continue to sing in our University Chorale and Chamber Singers." 

Samantha Palmer, a junior music major from Mount Morris, is one of those students. 

Palmer knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue music. She started by playing violin at the Flint Institute of Music but later got involved in her middle school choir. 

"Over the years, making so much music with everyone built up a great choral community that mattered so much to me and others," Palmer said. 

She credits her middle school and high school choral director for influencing her musical journey. After getting involved and becoming part of her school choir, Palmer ultimately decided to pursue music education during her junior year of high school and hasn't looked back. 

"I wanted to create and strengthen a musical bond with students because it was important to me when I was growing as a musician," she said. Music mattered so much to me, and if it had been done in anything but a caring and wholesome environment, I probably wouldn't be where I am today."

Palmer, who will graduate next December, plans on becoming a high school choral director, and even perhaps a conductor one day. For now, she's just glad she has the opportunity to get a jump start as a music educator while in college.  

"Being a student music educator at UM-Flint and participating in the invitational and coaching local students means so much to me." Palmer adds that she "sees an opportunity to influence and encourage children musically. I can't pass that up."

Aaron Hamady, a junior music major from Flushing who attended the choir invitational in 2019 as a high school student, says the event was one of the best experiences he had ever had. "It was a great way to be able to grow as a musician and also see what I could look forward to in college," he said.

Madeline Campbell is the communications specialist for the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].