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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

SFSU School of Music rings in holiday season with Fall Choral Concert

Music students raise concerns about the department and talk about their hopes for the future
Feven Mamo
Choral Chamber singers of Fall 2023 directed by professor David Xiques sing “Hallelujah Amen’’ as a practice for the upcoming concert, on Nov. 27, 2023. (Feven Mamo/Golden Gate Xpress)

San Francisco State University’s School of Music hosted its annual Fall Choral Concert on Dec. 1.

University Chorus and Chamber Singers, directed by Professor David Xiques with assistance from Malaya Victoria Cruz Gabriel on the piano, were the featured groups.

Families gathered in Knuth Music Hall to view what students had been practicing all semester long –– improving their vocal production but doing so as an entire ensemble.

The concert featured an array of songs such as “Hallelujah, Amen,” “Vyose N’nema Y’imana” and many more.

First group of the Choral Chamber singers directed and conducted by professor David Xiques sing the intro of “Hallelujah Amen’’ as a practice for the upcoming concert, on Nov. 27, 2023. (Feven Mamo /Golden Gate Xpress)

This semester, the Chamber Singers taught by Xiques, who has been at SFSU since 1997, consisted of about 28 students, with the University Chorus being a bit smaller. There were approximately 50 students in the choral ensemble, which, in comparison to previous semesters, is a significant decrease due to the impact of COVID, according to Xiques.

“We used to have [about] 70 singers in the ensemble,” Xiques said. This is his final academic year.

Chamber Singers have a tradition of touring nationally, regionally and internationally. Xiques himself has taken students to perform in places such as New Orleans and New York City.

Due to a decrease in funding, students like Audrey Elder –– who was in both Chamber Singers and University Choir ––cannot perform. According to Elder, there were plans for a northwest coast tour next semester that ended up falling flat. Not only that, but many of the required classes in the music department have been cut.

“It’s an important thing, especially for performance majors, to experience a tour like that,” Elder said, emphasizing the need for experience. “Like in any other major, science or teaching.”

Second group of the Choral Chamber singers proceed to sing “Hallelujah Amen’’ guided by professor David Xiyues hand signals as a practice for the upcoming concert, on Nov. 27, 2023. (Feven Mamo /Golden Gate Xpress)

Noah Alcantara, who is a part of the University Choir, also voiced his concerns about change.

“When we don’t get that voice pedagogy class, or we don’t get to have a weekly venue to perform as voice majors, what are bricks in the foundation start to slip away,” Alcantara said. “When we graduate, we’re not as secure as we should be.”

Both University Choir and Chamber Singers have the opportunity to perform songs from all over the world, which is why they must be able to tour, according to Alcantara. He contends that performances at middle schools, high schools, and community colleges create a broader community impact that both parties are overlooking.

“I’ve done this by bringing in cultural experts, who will help us out with the elements that we need to know about in order to perform the music in a respectful and beautiful way,” Xiques said.

Xiques says that it’s always been his value to have a diversity of music.

“You’re going to use your voice all your life… learn to use your voice, come join a choral ensemble, learn to sing with other people,” Xiques said. “I would say to a student of any major, strengthen your voice now, so that you have something that you can take with you into your future.”

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About the Contributors
Michelle Ruano Arreola, Staff Reporter
Michelle Ruano (she/her) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. Though she is from Hayward, CA, she currently resides in San Francisco. She is a journalism major focusing on online print and a minor in Special Education. She has previously interned for YR Media in Oakland, CA. Outside school, she loves playing video games with her friends and attending live music shows.
Feven Mamo, Staff Photographer
Feven Mamo started her educational journey at Berkeley City College, initially majoring in computer science, before transferring to San Francisco State University as an economics major. Professionally, she held the role of an Economic Equity Research Analyst at U3 Systems Work. Her photography passion started with a thrifted film camera from Oakland, her work is influenced by social justice issues and the streets of Oakland. Previously, her photography has been selected as a weekly favorite by VSCO, a photography app for mobile devices. Feven also exhibits a deep enthusiasm for curly hair, having previously worked as a hair model for hairstylists. 

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