Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Evolution of choral sound of the St. Olaf Choir and the Westminster Choir
by Zabriskie, Alan, Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2010, 162; 3442164
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine the evolution of choral sound of the St. Olaf Choir and the Westminster Choir, by describing the choral sound employed by each conductor throughout the history of the choirs including F. Melius Christiansen, Olaf C. Christiansen, Kenneth Jennings, and Anton Armstrong of the St. Olaf Choir and John Finley Williamson, George Lynn, Joseph Flummerfelt, and Joe Miller of the Westminster Choir.

After describing each conductor's desired choral sound, their methodologies were determined using the following research questions: (1) What methodologies were utilized by each conductor in the selection of singers? (2) What methodologies were utilized by each conductor in the placement of singers? (3) What methodologies were utilized by each conductor with regards to vowels and diction? (4) What methodologies were utilized by each conductor with regards to vocal pedagogy?

The St. Olaf Choir began by achieving a blended overall choral sound that matched the tone quality of one individual voice in each section. The choral sound evolved to include an ensemble of intelligent soloists based on the lyric, art-song approach to singing. F. Melius Christiansen sought a dark blended choral sound where singers matched individual tone quality to that of an ideal. Olaf Christiansen developed a bright overall choral sound that emphasized clarity and meaning of text. Kenneth Jennings produced a free, relaxed choral sound by developing a lyric, art-song approach to choral singing. Anton Armstrong also crafted a lyric art-song approach to choral sound, but one that was made up of a combination of intelligent soloists.

In the beginning, the main choral sound created by the Westminster Choir consisted of a group of singers who produced their own individual tone quality, which was full, dark, and vibrant. The sound has evolved to include a greater emphasis on core, resulting in a bright, blended choral sound. John Finley Williamson sought a dark, rich, vibrant tone quality that emphasized the individual voices within the ensemble rather than blend. George Lynn approached choral sound in a similar way to John Finley Williamson. Joseph Flummerfelt also employed a soloistic approach to choral singing, but achieved a sense of blend through rhythmic alignment of vowels and placement of singers. Joe Miller generated a core in the choral sound that resulted in a bright, less-soloistic overall sound.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fenton, Kevin
Commitee:
School: The Florida State University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Music, Music education, Performing Arts
Keywords: Choral conducting, Choral sound, Conductor, St. Olaf Choir, Westminster Choir
Publication Number: 3442164
ISBN: 9781124458687
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