ChoralNotes, July 2018

In this Issue...

  • Check out our season brochure!
  • Learn more about our new Young Professionals group, the Luminary Society!
  • Meet one of the fabulous altos in the Chamber Choir: Jennifer Crippen!
  • Audition for the Houston Chamber Choir's 2018-2019 Season

To download this issue, click here!

Meet the Artists: Jennifer Crippen

Jennifer has been a member of the Houston Chamber Choir since 2015. Manager of Operations Grace Roman chatted with her this week and got to know the person behind that beautiful rich voice a little better!

GR:  How did you hear about the Houston Chamber Choir and how long have you been a member?

JC:  I joined the Chamber Choir in 2015 after a meeting with Bob Simpson. I was auditioning for him to sing during High Holy Days at a local temple and the choir happened to have an alto slot available and he offered me the position on the spot! I had never heard of the choir, being a relatively new local transplant, and after some research thought, “Why not!?!”

GR:  What's your favorite part about being a member of the Chamber Choir?

JC:  I love how many different styles of music we tackle. Every concert is different and every new genre pushes me outside my comfort zone until I realize I’ve discovered new tools to add to my musical toolbelt.

GR:  What was your favorite concert this past season and why?

JC:  It’s so hard to choose! I’m a sucker for Brahms and Barber, so the “Conservative
Backlash” concert was quite fun. At the same time, our last concert celebrating Bernstein’s
legacy was one that was not only fun to learn and sing, but the concert itself had an
emotional aura that really connected us with the audience in an intimate way. Concerts like this one, and our first concert following Harvey, remind us as individuals how much stronger we are as a whole and that kind of connection to a mass of listeners is electrifying.

GR:  What else do you do in your professional life?

JC:  I teach private voice and piano lessons 5-6 days a week and fit in solo performances
whenever possible! I also sing in an all female a capella group called “Six of One” comprised of 6 former or current Houston Chamber Choir members.

GR:  Any hobbies?

JC:  I wish I could say mountain biking or something exciting like that, but I relax at home with a scotch or play video games.

GR: Favorite thing to do on the weekend?

JC:  Stay in my pajamas as long as possible!

GR:  Best restaurant in Houston?

JC:  I don’t eat out much because I prefer to concoct new things at home, but when I have
friends or family in town, we got to Mala Sichuan.

GR:  Any pets?

JC:  Yes! I have 2 cats and 2 dogs. The cats don’t really care for the dogs, but they keep trying…

GR: What's your favorite kind of music to listen to in the car?

JC:  This is like musical blasphemy, but I don’t really listen to music casually. Too much
schooling has made music something to focus on and analyze and I find that distracting when I’m driving. So I’ve either got the news on or an audiobook.

GR:  What are you looking forward to the most this upcoming season at the Houston Chamber Choir?

JC:  I’m not sure! I’m fascinated with everything from Renaissance to Contemporary and it
looks like we’ll have a bit of everything this season. I will say I am very intrigued by the
“Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore” concert. It incorporates instruments and dancers and I love the more dramatic, semi-staged presentations we’ve been doing. On top of the detailed vocal work we do, we get to incorporate spectacle into our performances in the Houston Chamber Choir and I think that is simply brilliant for evolving a choral experience.

GR:  As an accomplished opera singer who also sings professionally with the Houston Chamber Choir, what advice would you give to other opera singers who might be considering singing with our choral group? What is it about choral singing that keeps you coming back each year and how do you feel it adds to your personal growth and development?

JC:  My history with choirs in general is up and down. I began singing in high school because I wanted desperately to go to this magnet high school, and there was only room for me in the choir side. So I sang begrudgingly, found I was good at it, went to college to be a choir conductor, then later found I hated it but LOVED opera. I tossed my roots aside in preference to opera for a long time because I felt it was a “higher art” and had more demanding vocal study. So when I accepted Bob’s job offer in 2015, it was merely a job. I might have even thought I was selling out a bit after studying solo voice for so long. But after 3 years with the choir, I see how truly serendipitous it was. I’ve had so many opportunities to sing solos that quell my individual need to shine, and that would have been more than I had expected for 2015 me. But to other operatic singers I would say, “But that’s not all!” I get to sing in styles I never thought possible. I am encouraged to experiment and have consequently found I have other voices to communicate with audiences. I’ve learned to anticipate the needs of 20-something other people around me. I get to feel “the force” with that many people and it is exhilarating. So I get to sing solos, I get to experiment in new styles, but most of all, the other singers and the trust we build together every year is what brings me back.