About Chor Anno
Chor Anno is a mixed choir of 32 singers, most of whom direct choirs in schools, colleges, and churches in four northwest states, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming.
It was fun coming up with a name for this group and we admit it's a slight stretch with the Latin
translation to say "Chor Anno" means "The annual choir." So, we argue...it's a name, not a
But here's what prompted it.
Busy choral directors with busy schedules!
Getting these talented people in the same room at the same time was a tall order! So, we settled on September for our concert weekend each year. With a two and one-half day retreat in August along with a Friday night and Saturday morning refresher on the
weekend of the concerts, these amazing and determined musicians make it happen. We agreed that this time early
in a church or school year worked best. (Yes, it's true. We might have to change the name if we started singing more than once a year!)
Chor Anno's singers are the heart and soul of the group. The choir rises to artistic levels because each singer brings
artistry to the choir.
Most of Chor Anno's members direct choirs in public schools, universities, or churches throughout the northwest. While
we tend to emphasisze that point, we absolutely do not forget that while six or seven of our members don't call that role
their paying job, choral music is a part of their lives and their artistry is vital to us, too. We speak with undisguised pride about each of them. Chor Anno easily claims professional quality despite no one in the choir being paid for their participation.
It's no stretch to say that they sing because they love to sing...and they love reaching new heights with colleagues who share this virtual obsession in finding the depths of what great music can offer. In doing so, they enrich their lives and the lives of those who come to hear them sing.
For more about each of these talented people, SEE the SINGERS pages under "About Us" in the menu.
Front row: (L to R) Nicole Lamartine, Molly Holleran, Carrie Rice, Alison Askeland, Twyla Brunson, April Duvic, Janet Reiter, Shannon Anderson, Leora Schwitters, Solveig Holmquist, Rebecca Pierce, Lori Wiest, MacKenzie Aitken, Stacy Brown, Karen Fulmer, Rhonda Slinkard
Back row: (L to R): Justin Raffa, Ben Bouton, Reg Unterseher, Erik Edmundson, Gary Gross, Jacob Funk, David Walworth, Justin Wisness, Brian Hoskins, Howard Meharg, Joel Karn, Matt Pierce, Joe Strandjord, Billy Buhl, Jeff Selden, Joseph To, Brian Mitchell, Paul Aitken.
This year's (2019) concerts featured Jake Runestad's choral/instrumental masterpiece, "The Hope of Loving." It's a work of slightly larger dimensions than we normally perform...about 17 minutes in length and in five movements. We were delighted to have a string quartet consisting of Matt Mandrones, Daryl Hunt, Stephen Meharg, and Tom Walworth accompanying the work. Justin Raffa, tenor, soprano, Molly Holleran, and bass/baritone, Reg Unterseher had featured vocal solo and duet roles.
While we presented a set of choral works with lyrics dealing with the night sky, stars, and dazzling light, even these seem to point us in the direction of hope and caring for one another.
Jake Runestad's "The Hope of Loving" provides theme for Chor Anno's 2019 concerts
Chor Anno rose to new heights of musicianship under the direction of Nicole Lamartine in 2019. She brought a fresh approach to choral tone and her reminders of singing principles made for tangible, improving results.
Nicole continues her full-time role as Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. She has sung with Chor Anno since 2012.
Howard Meharg, who founded Chor Anno in 2009 says "I was thrilled when Nicole told me in the summer of 2012 that she'd like to be considered as a singer in Chor Anno." He said he was astonished that this marvelous soprano
who had sung with Conspirare under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson and the Desert Chorale directed by Josh Habermann (among other groups) would be willing to travel all the way from Laramie to sing with Chor Anno, too. "You do know that no one in the group is paid, don't you," he asked. Her reply was, "Yes, I know that...but these are my friends and my colleagues. I'd really like to do this!"
Meharg said, "It became readily apparent, as Nicole began to conduct a few pieces in programs as early as 2014 that her spark, her expertise, and her positive and friendly approach to every minute of rehearsal, was exactly what I was looking for as a successor." Howard, who will turn 82 in 2020, says that as long as he is able to lift a hand and conduct at least four beats to the measure, he's hoping the group will allow him to work with them in three or four pieces per program. As of 2019, it's Dr. Nicole Lamartine, Conductor and J. Howard Meharg, Associate Conductor.
Lamartine conducts and serves as clinician and adjudicator around the globe
Nicole Lamartine was a guest conductor and clinician in Hong Kong November 18-23, 2019. She was invited by the Association for Music in International Schools, AMIS (pronounced as the French word for "friends".)
With over 100 member schools on five continents, AMIS provides a network of support for music programs in international schools all over the world through the presentation of professional conferences, academic workshops, and ensemble festivals.
Nicole has previously served as adjudicator for international
choral festivals on two separate occasions in Dubai, UAE.
Needless to say, Chor Anno is elated to have her singing with us and taking on the role of conductor. We are fortunate to have this rising "star" of the choral world, and it is world-wide, as part of this group!
As they say...but wait, there's more!
Nicole's collegiate choir from the University of Wyoming, will be singing in Spokane in March of 2020 for the NW Regional Conference of the American Choral Directors Association.
We offer our congratulations to Nicole for this wonderful honor.
Our 2018 concerts were held in Milwaukie, Oregon and in Vancouver, Washington.
John Baker, a choral conductor friend of ours invited Chor Anno to perform in his church, The Milwaukie Lutheran Church, at 3810 SE Lake Road, Milwaukie, Oregon on Saturday evening, September 22nd.
The concert in Vancouver was in a venue new to Chor Anno, the magnificent Holy Redeemer Catholic Church at 17010 NE 9th St., Vancouver. Holy Redeemer is a
relatively few years old and is located just a few blocks east of 162nd Ave. on NE 9th. It's built somewhat in the style or shape of many European churches, essentially a stone or modern concrete construction. It has lofty spaces and the acoustics work well for a choral group.
We were thrilled to be allowed use of this sacred space for our concert.
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Vancouver, Washington
Milwaukie Lutheran Church, Milwaukie, Oregon
Dr. Nicole Lamartine assumes role of Chor Anno conductor as of 2019
Concerts were held in Longview, September 21, at the Longview Community Church, and in Vancouver on September 22, at the United
Church of Christ.
Other pieces in the varied program included "Stars," an ethereal sounding choral work based on a poem by Sara Teasdale and written by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds. It brought a unique accompaniment with the use of handbells. The effect was cool and "other-worldly."
other that started gaining its popularity in about 1947, "We Shall Overcome." It said...and we sang..."We can work it out...call me, we shall overcome!"
We add a huge "thank you" to Longview's Dennis Boaglio, Steve Meharg and Patty Howland, as well as to Kristina Martin, Vancouver.
The last movement of Runestad's work asked us "What keeps us alive, what allows us to endure? It is the hope of loving, of being loved."
So, in 2019, despite the temptation to despair, to worry about our politics, the direction of our government, we found ourselves looking to the music and poetry that points us upward. We ended our concerts with a combination of songs, one from the 70's "Lean on Me" and the
Yes, we're always glad to hear good things said about our concerts!
A few of the compliments from past concerts here...
"What a heavenly experience. Thanks for your hard work. I hope you never give it up!" (AL)
"Beautiful, exquisite music this afternoon in Longview! Thank you, Chor Anno." (PB)
"It was a grand concert last night in ever so many ways. I was totally surprised when the music so engaged my inner soul that I felt like tears were going to burst out when the music so affected me in the piece "We Can Mend the Sky." We are truly blessed by your gifts. (BD)
"What exquisite music making!" (PS)
"This was the best choral concert I've ever heard." (FMB)
"Wonderful...made me cry tears of joy!" (TB)
Dozens of "likes" and positive comments popped up on Facebook. We thank you all for taking the time to
Chor Anno Board Members
President: Karen P. Fulmer, Federal Way, WA
Vice-President: Don E. Wiitala, Longview, WA
Treasurer: Twyla V. Brunson, Kent, WA
Secretary: April Duvic, Vancouver, WA
"Sometimes the impact of singing seeps into more intimate places in our hearts - (Ann Long)