Chorus Voices: An Interview with Allan

Women’s Voices Chorus is very lucky to have Dr. Allan Friedman as our Artistic Director. He’s a talented conductor, a friendly, fun, and thoughtful human being, and a great composer too – we’ll be singing his Nunc Dimittis and his arrangement of the spiritual Little Innocent Lamb in Europe. I caught up with him for a few minutes before rehearsal to get his perspective on the upcoming tour.

Allan is a veteran of four international choir tours, and he acknowledges that one unique challenge in preparing a choir is balancing the needs of novice and expert travelers. He says that he’s been “trying to keep things interesting for the people who are experienced but yet informative for the people who aren’t” and he credits Tour Manager Jen Gibson with doing an exemplary job, keeping everyone informed and everything running smoothly.

For many of us this will be our first choir tour, and Allan offers the following advice: “Get as much sleep as you can on the plane, take care of yourselves physically, get plenty of rest. Just let the bad things roll off and enjoy the good things as much as possible.”

Musically, he believes that WVC has a lot to offer European audiences. He notes that women’s choirs are perhaps more common in Europe than in the States, so it will be great to show audiences abroad that Americans have a rich tradition of women’s singing too, and moreover that “classical music isn’t the domain of Europeans only.” We will also provide a diverse and significant perspective on American music, which, as you might expect, is performed less often and with less skill in Europe. “I think that showing them what an American women’s choir can do is important,” Allan notes.

Our repertoire for the choir tour has been in the works for years. Allan comments that “as soon as we decided to go on tour, I knew that I wanted to do mostly American music and then also some music from the countries that we’re visiting.”

Through providing this unique musical perspective to Hungarian, Slovenian, and Italian audiences, WVC will also get something back, both musically and socially. Allan suggests that through the experience of singing multiple concerts and repeating pieces several times, we’ll see improvement as a musical ensemble. He also notes that close friends sing better together, and that “just to have a chance to have social interaction on a longer basis than just rehearsals will be really special.”

In fact, that social aspect is one thing Allan is most looking forward to about the tour. He’s excited about getting to know individual choir members better, as well as to perform in beautiful and historic venues:

“Personally, I’d say that I’m most looking forward to spending extended amounts of time with the chorus. […] I’m excited to make music in these beautiful places, to get to sing music that was written for St. Mark’s or written for the Ospedaletto.* To get to do that is really thrilling for me.”

We’re also looking forward to sharing good music, good times, and good food with Allan (“I love me some goulash,” he says, although “gelato is very high on the list too”)!


*WVC will be helping out with an interdisciplinary technology project conducted by researchers at Duke University involving acoustically mapping the Sala della Musica at the Ospedaletto in Venice. Look for more details about this fascinating project in the future!

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