10.27.17 (8:00pm), Friday
Symphonic Choir Sings Connection

University Presbyterian Church
2203 San Antonio Street, Austin, TX


“To see, feel, and think together 

As if you were next to me 

No matter how far apart we are… 

To cry, laugh, and sing together 

Under this sky 

No matter how far apart we are… 


Feel the connection of the sky, 

And the connection of our hearts.” 

– Kentaro Sato 


Dynamic choral art is 80 voices and 8 instrumentalists joining forces for Symphonic Choir Sings Connection.   What connects us? Song? Text? Country? Disaster? Love? Conspirare’s Symphonic Choir presents a concert examining our impulse for connection. Program includes regional premieres of david lang’s the national anthems and Mass Transmission by Mason Bates.  The Symphonic Choir will be joined by instrumental collaborators the Artisan Quartet, Austin Haller (organ), Faith DeBow (piano and electronica), Thomas Burritt (percussion) and Utah Hamrick (double bass).   

Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson reflects on the program: “Never before in my life have I felt so urgently the absolute necessity of coming together to sing and listen as a way to navigate our lives together and to express all we are holding in this intense and challenging time.    It is a truly powerful experience when people from throughout the community come together to form an extraordinary choir that not only sings great music but also represents our city proudly and holds the pulse of its people. I am greatly inspired by the members of the Conspirare Symphonic Choir who, through their singing, breathe life into the imagination of Austin.  Their performances are about musical excellence, freedom of expression and love.  Our fall program presents powerful music which I am very excited to share with Austin audiences. The major works on the program are composed by two of the most compelling composers on the musical scene today. It promises to be a stirring and deeply engaging evening of music and an inspirational way to come together.”

Please join us at 7:00pm for a pre-concert talk by Chris Johnson. Chris Johnson is a seasoned classical radio programmer, host, and journalist. As KMFA’s Music Director he’s largely responsible for the music programmed on the station and for managing the station’s library, in addition to hosting the daily afternoon program, Rideshare. Prior to working in Austin, Johnson spent over a decade with Houston’s NPR member station KUHF, and its sister station KUHFA – Classical 91.7 where he was a founding producer and contributor for the daily arts magazine The Front Row. Johnson has been covered by, or featured in, Houston Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Indianapolis Star, Arts+Culture Texas and The Journal of the Society for American Music. Once an active professional violinist, he made multiple recordings with the KUHF Chamber Ensemble and performed regularly in some of Houston’s finest venues as well as throughout southeast Texas.


Chris has served on artistic advisory committees for Houston Grand Opera, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and Opera Vista. He can be heard on Rideshare, weekday afternoons from 2 to 6.

Selections on this program include:

• David Lang’s the national anthems

• Selections from Songs of Love by Will Todd

• Mason Bates’ Mass Transmission

• Kentaro Sato’s Tsunangari

“We often listen to music as if it has a tale to tell, teasing a narrative out of all the tunes and harmonies and changes.” – David Lang, The New Yorker, April 28, 2014. Listen as David Lang discusses the national anthems on YouTube.

“When researching anthems, Lang attempted to find a universal truth — ‘something that everyone in the world could agree on.’ But as he continued to encounter carnage and war within each text, he realized the anthems resembled prayers for fleeting freedom rather than confidence in it.” – Elena Saaverdra Buckley, WQXR New York Public Radio, June 20, 2016

“[Songs of Love] is a three movement work including I Love You, A Kiss and I Sing BecauseSongs of Love was commissioned in 2012 by Elena Sharkova for the Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale. The movements set poems by Nils Peterson, which are based on original Greek poems by Maria Polydouri.” – Will Todd

“Scored for chorus with organ and electronica, Mass Transmission blends the tone qualities of the three different “instruments” together seamlessly. The text for the piece is taken from two separate sources, and describes a Dutch mother’s conversation with her daughter, who is working as a page for the colonial government in Java….passages influenced by Javanese Gamelan in counterpoint, punctuate a text describing the experience of living in Java. The organ joined the gamelan texture, and the electronic sounds added to the atmosphere of the piece, using (among other things) samples of radio static, birdsong, and other field recordings from the jungle. The entire piece presented a very calm tranquil atmosphere, and was a great way to settle in for an evening of great new music.” – Kelsey Walsh, I Care if You Listen, March 22, 2012

Craig Hella Johnson conducts the Symphonic Choir in “Moving Light,” March 2014 (photo Danny Bode).

Artists Performing
Conspirare Singers and Instrumentalists

* denotes section leader


  • Erika Bacon 
  • Kellie Bledsoe 
  • Rebecca Ellis 
  • Susan Fernandez 
  • Calla Feucht 
  • Gwen Flory 
  • Margaret Henderson 
  • Melissa Huebsch-Stroud 
  • Millicent Garza Jardine 
  • Charlotte Shivers Johnson 
  • Monica Johnson
  • Allison Kashdan 
  • Michel Kennell 
  • Amy Mathews-Muttwill
  • Kari McDonald 
  • Susan Meitz 
  • Suzanne Mitchell 
  • Courtney Pierce
  • Megan Starkey 
  • Jennifer Wang 
  • Anna Welch 
  • Shari Wilson* 


  • Louise Kemp Avant*
  • Brooke Beasley 
  • Beth Berman
  • Grace Eun Cho
  • Mary Anne Connolly 
  • Monica Cravotta 
  • Melissa Eddy 
  • Wravan Godsoe 
  • Kathy Leighton 
  • Nancy Lesch 
  • Kendra Lipman 
  • Morgan Mingle
  • Lindsay Nelson 
  • Courtney Neva 
  • Barbara O’Brien 
  • Sara Ortiz 
  • Andrea Pobanz 
  • Linda Blair Ramsey 
  • Hannah Rose 
  • Deborah Rupp 
  • Diana Sanchez-Bushong 
  • Agatha Torku 


  • Todd Brennan*
  • Tim Bushong 
  • Brian DeCou 
  • Loel Graber 
  • Van Hoisington, Jr. 
  • Carr Hornbuckle*
  • Jon-Michael Lees
  • Jim Maxwell
  • Daci Racher
  • Jonathan Riemer
  • Eli Salazar
  • Trevor Shaw*
  • Chris Tuggey
  • Trey Vasquez
  • Raymond Votolato
  • Curtis White
  • Miguel Angel Zuniga, Jr.


  • Roland Barrera
  • Tom Brown
  • Eric Copper
  • Rick Gabrillo*
  • Gary Godfrey
  • Robert Harlan*
  • Bruce Haufler 
  • Sean Nicolaysen
  • Tim O’Brien*
  • Paul Pew
  • John Proft* 
  • Gary W Pyle 
  • Steve Reedy 
  • Sam Rives 
  • Duane Roth 
  • Sidharth Srinivasan 
  • Andy Young


Photo Credits:

David Lang by Melissa Hom

Will Todd by Andy Holdsworth

Mason Bates by Heather Talbert