University Singers From the Blue Ridge to the Big Apple Tour

Following graduation, the educational and musical experiences continued for 70 singers from the UVA University Singers, as they recently completed a 7-city, 10-day concert tour from the Blue Ridge to the Big Apple. Led by faculty conductor Michael Slon, the journey marked the ensemble’s first tour in four years (due to the pandemic) – with stops in Greensboro, Morgantown, Winchester, New York City, Lancaster, Princeton, and Norfolk. Meeting with alumni and making new fans along the way, the group also wrapped up the tour with a National Anthem for the Washington Nationals on June 3, at the ballpark’s UVA Day.

The Singers performed repertoire that included excerpts from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard; works by several women composers including Abbie Betinis, Rosephanye Powell, and Alice Parker; Jake Runestad’s “Let My Love Be Heard,” a Nigerian carol, and a new work by Professor Slon. The Chamber Singers also contributed a selection by Hollywood composer J.A.C. Redford, the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” and Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia, and Singers alumni joined in nearly every city for the traditional UVA songs. In Morgantown, 15 high school singers joined the U-Singers for an arrangement of the folk song “Loch Lomond,” which they also had in their repertoire – and the Singers also sang an impromptu selection alongside a Mennonite choir at a large Amish market near Lancaster, PA.

The musicians had a chance to perform in a variety of acoustics, including the state of the art Well-Spring Theatre in Greensboro, the beautiful Basilica of St. Mary in Norfolk, and historic Grace Church on Broadway in lower Manhattan, where numerous U-Singers alums were in attendance. Tour also afforded cultural experiences of other kinds, as students had a chance to attend performances on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera, visit the Met and MoMA museums, cheer on (or boo) the N.Y. Yankees, and shop local crafts at the Amish Kitchen Kettle Village.

The ensemble’s domestic tours are arranged with the assistance of two student tour managers, this year a role filled by 4th years Harrison Monahan and Patrick Kilgannon. The group is also grateful to the Cornell Memorial Foundation and Dept. of Music for support of the tour, and to our many local contacts and hosts, including alumni Arlene Fontanares and Vince Mastracco, who arranged a tremendous pre-concert dinner and full-house concert in Norfolk, VA. One host in Winchester, VA wrote of the experience, “I want to say that it was a complete privilege for us… to host this incredibly talented group of singers. The concert was perhaps the most beautiful music I have ever heard”; and another added, “[The students] were very friendly, polite, and appreciative... Thank you for the opportunity to meet some outstanding UVA students!”

To make a gift toward the expenses of the University Singers tour, visit: and select University Singers Tour Projects

The UVA University Singers is the University of Virginia’s flagship choral ensemble, heard by thousands each season in performances of a cappella and accompanied choral repertoire, including major works with orchestra. In 2017, the group joined the Charlottesville Symphony on the steps of the Rotunda to perform for UVA’s Bicentennial Launch Celebration, before an estimated crowd of 20,000. In recent years, the Singers have also sung for Les Misérables creators Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil during their UVA residencies, sung for the 2016 UVA Holiday greeting which received more than 400,000 views on social media, presented Bernstein’s Mass for the 2018 Bernstein centennial, and taken a two-week concert tour of England, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Austria. Other choral program highlights have included concerts and workshops with Bobby McFerrin and Meredith Monk, a performance for Hillary Clinton, a performance for the 2010 VMEA Conference, a 2012 workshop with members of the Tallis Scholars, a 2014 performance for Philip Glass, and frequent collaborations with the Charlottesville Symphony, including the popular Family Holiday Concerts. During the pandemic, they continued to present virtual performances, and hosted online master classes with Eric Whitacre, Alice Parker, and other choral luminaries. Highlights since have included a joint performance of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers with the Oratorio Society of VA, and a performance for Pres. Ryan’s Arts on the Hill series. For more information visit: &


UVA Department of Music
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P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176