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Joining us this 2017-2018 season, Northwest Girlchoir is thrilled to welcome Jura Litchfield as our new Prep Choir Conductor!

Jura Litchfield
ABOUT JURA
Jura Litchfield comes to Northwest Girlchoir with a passion for teaching young people and over 30 years of experience as a music teacher, conductor, and arts administrator. Jura has taught music and choir at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, in Massachusetts, Berlin, Germany, and New York (City and State).

She has served as Director of Music at churches in Maine and New York. She has also worked as a school music department chairperson, a director of a community arts center, and a development director for a non-profit arts institute. Jura has Kodály and Orff certification and degrees from Columbia University (Master of Arts) and Barnard College (Bachelor of Arts). 


G
ET IN ON THE FUN
With rehearsals beginning next week, Jura is excited to start working with Northwest Girlchoir's youngest choristers! There's still space to join us for our 45th Anniversary season -- learn more at northwestgirlchoir.org/prepchoir

 

Also joining the artistic staff as Prep Choir Accompanist is Annie Chang-Center!


ABOUT ANNIE

Annie Chang-Center, violist and pianist, started performing as a pianist in her native Taiwan for foreign dignitaries when she was six years old. Since she came to the U.S. at thirteen, Annie has concertized in Europe, Asia and the U.S. as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician. 

Currently, she is a member of the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra in Scottsdale, AZ, the Black Pearl Orchestra in Philadelphia, PA, South Florida Symphony in Key West, FL, and was featured recently in a string quartet for the Seattle Opera production "As One."

Annie has also served as an arts administrator, teacher, and visual artist and we are thrilled to bring her many talents to Northwest Girlchoir!

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On our final day in Malta we visited the "silent city" of Mdina and also Rabat. Mdina is a fortified city in the middle of Malta offering a beautiful view of the country, and Rabat (or 'suburb') is the city just outside the walled gates. During our time in Mdina we performed an afternoon concert in the Carmelite Priory. Amore was thrilled with the acoustics and were happy to see so many people filling the church. With Mdina being a major attraction, we were fortunate to have audience members from all over the world! 

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After our concert, we walked outside the walls of Mdina to the city of Rabat, where we had THE MOST delicious pastizzi. Have we talked about pastizzi yet? It's our new favorite thing. Pastizzi are a puff pastry filled with ricotta or peas and, available only at our favorite Rabat shop "Crystal Palace," chicken. They cost no more than 50-cent Euro and having one or two is enough for a good lunch. It's a good think we're doing a lot of walking after all of the amazing pastries we've been introduced to.

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In the evening we performed at the Church of Divine Mercy in Naxxar in support of Dar Tal Providenza. Dar Tal Providenza provides a home with a warm family-like environment for persons with disabilities. We were honored to support this worthy cause and to meet the local dignitaries who attended the concert. The acoustics of the modern church were stunning and our sound was truly magnified. We ended the evening with a performance of the Malta National Anthem.

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After saying our goodbyes, we returned to our hotel to pack and be ready for our 4:00am departure for the catamaran to Sicily. Though the early departure left us with little sleep, it did afford us the most beautiful farewell view of Malta.

Arriving in Sicily (a little better rested after the 2 hour crossing) we journeyed to Syracuse and Ortygia. We had a walking tour of Ortygia side with our guide Elizabeth and visited La Cathedral di Siracusa. The Cathedral was built in the 7th century over the site of the ancient Temple of Athena. The Doric columns are still visible inside the church. Our free time allowed choristers and chaperones alike the opportunity to eat in the beautiful surrounding of Ortygia and enjoy the many shops. Exploring Ortygia was a fine welcome to Sicily, offering the opportunity to see how Greek history has influenced architecture and more in Sicily.

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Our second full day in Malta started with generous free time to explore the beaches and shops at Qawra! Several choristers took the opportunity to wade/swim in the Mediterranean Sea at St. Paul's Bay. At the beach we found, the sand was made up of small rocks and the water was a deep blue and clear enough to see the bottom -- b2ap3_thumbnail_4-IMG_5276.jpgoffering a window to observe the tiny fish swimming beneath us.

After our beach excursion we boarded the tour bus and traveled to Gozo, Malta's second largest island with a population of approx. 30,000. Taking the ferry from Cirkewwa, we passed the famous Blue Lagoon at Comino Island (population: 4) and marveled once again at the incredible blueness of the water. Amore choristers enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air during the twenty minute passing. From the ferry we immediately noticed a massive castle-like building on Gozo and were informed that, in fact, that was the very church we would be performing at in the evening: the Rotunda of Xewkija. 

Our guide Vivian took us on another tour through Gozo's capital, Victoria. The homes in Victoria were built as winding rows of townhouses, each with their own unique character. Residents have custom doors of varying shapes and sizes, balconies or balcony boxes, and religious tiles, paintings or verses adorning the entrance to most homes.

b2ap3_thumbnail_6-IMG_5381.jpgAs we made our way to the town square we stopped to visit the Bażilika San Ġorġ. As we entered we discovered another unexpected ornate interior. The bażilika had lush red walls and gold carved designs with marble-designed floor like that of St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta. We decided to do an impromptu performance for the Gozitans in the square and stood on the steps to the bażilika.

We then ventured to Xewkija's Church of Saint John the Baptist (also known as the Rotunda) to perform a concert before also participating in the mass for the feast day of the church's patron saint -  Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist). We were in awe upon entering the church. It's impressive dome offered stunning acoustics and Artistic Director Sara Boos sent choristers in groups to hear their sound from different areas in the church.

During the celebratory mass, the priest thanked us for joining them and quoted St. Augustine of Hippo in stating "He who sings, prays twice." We were honored to be a part of their holy celebration and to understand more fully the deeply religious culture of Malta. At the Rotunda we were again treated to the audience singing along during our premiere performance of the Maltese National Anthem.

Afterward, we were invited to go to the top of dome to explore. Amore choristers were also encouraged to climb the winding staircase to the belfry for an expansive view of the entire island of Gozo and Northern Malta.

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We arrived in Malta yesterday and are loving it here. After our long flight from Seattle to Frankfurt, we were so eager to see Malta from our airplane window as we landed. b2ap3_thumbnail_4-IMG_3873.jpgThe scenic coastal views, blue Mediterranean water, and historic limestone fortifications and towers are breathtaking and the people of Malta have made us feel welcome.

Upon our arrival on June 22nd, we took the evening to get rested in preparation for our tour of Valletta and first performance in Paola at Church of Christ the King. In Valletta, we enjoyed a driving and walking tour from our new Maltese friend and guide, Vivian, and used our free time to explore the shops and St. John's Co-Cathedral (built by the Knights of Malta in the mid-1570s). We feasted on pastizzi, gelato, and other local fare, while enjoying the unique flavor of Malta's own "Kinnie" soda (made from Mediterranean chinotto bitter oranges and combined with an infusion of aromatic herbs and spices). We don't have anything like Kinnie soda and  it's so refreshing! 

The architecture of St. John's Co-Cathedral presented a humble facade; blending in with its limestone beige/yellow brick surroundings surroundings. However, inside held a treasure of carved stone walls by Michael Preti and Baroque art, including an impressive collection of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Amore Conductor and Artistic Director Sara Boos, was also thrilled to see the room full of large Choral Books from the early 1500s.

b2ap3_thumbnail_6-IMG_4001.jpgWe also enjoyed the air conditioned "Malta Experience" presentation that shared the 7000 year history of Malta.


Our first concert at Paola's Church of Christ the King was a hearty welcome. We participated in the evening Mass and performed a concert to parishioners afterward. Our audience in Paola warmed our hearts and sang along with us during "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

We're almost over the jet lag from flying and looking forward to exploring more of Malta!

 

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All our bags are packed, we're ready to go! Northwest Girlchoir Amore (Grades 9-12) and Vivace (Grades 6-8) head on tour this summer.

Amore departs this Sunday, June 21 for the beautiful islands of Malta & Sicily while Vivace departs next Thursday, June 25 for the Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans, LA.

 

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