The Baltic Sea

Aurelijus Žemgulis

MISSION

Promote the awareness and enjoyment of choral music from the Baltic countries.

Maintain a website with information on Baltic choral music and composers.

Hold a biennial festival.

Encourage new music by composers from the Baltic Region through collaborations, performances, commissions, and in-person as well as virtual interaction.

Promote events that showcase Baltic choral music.

Foster exchanges with choirs from the Baltic countries.

FESTIVALS

FOUNDING BOARD

Brigitte Doss-Johnson

President

Laney McClain Armstrong, DMA

Vice President, Treasurer

Robert Geary

 Vice President, Secretary

Brigitte Doss-Johnson began her journey of discovery in Baltic choral music in 2001 when she searched for international choral competitions for her high school choir. Since then she has researched the history of the Baltics and the evolution of native songs, focusing on how progress and outside influences shaped the development of the current Baltic choral sound. She also has an interest in the type of compositions that were published in the last hundred years as a function of political rule, namely during independent times, Nazi occupation, Soviet occupation, Glasnost, and modern post-Cold War times.

Brigitte's current musical ventures include teaching singers from the Estonian Society to prepare to audition for the 2019 Song Festival. She maintains a private studio, teaching Suzuki piano and voice in a variety of styles.

Brigitte has an interest in staging choral works in theatrical ways that involve multimedia, lighting artistry, movement, and innovative costumes.

Her latest endeavor beyond the music world is in writing. She has penned several novels using the research she's gained of people and traditions of the Baltics.

Laney McClain Armstrong is a singer and conductor who has made choral music and choral music education her life’s work. As a conductor and educator, Dr. Armstrong strives to cultivate a love of music in each singer through quality programing, building skills and musicianship, and devotion to the music and texts. She has toured internationally with the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Harvard University Choir as a singer, and was one of the founding members of the Choral Fellows program at Harvard University in 2001. As a recipient of a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship in 2009, she studied the Estonian language and culture and assisted in cataloguing entries in the University of Washington’s Baltic Choral Collection.  Dr. Armstrong has worked with singers of many ages, including teaching middle- and high-school choir in Virginia, working with elementary-aged students in Bay Area schools with limited music programs, leading introductory music classes to 5- and 6-year-old girls, and directing the San Francisco Girls Chorus’ Alumnae Chorus. Most recently, Dr. Armstrong was the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Musicianship at the Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley, where she worked with children and young adults ages 8 to 18. She currently serves as the Artistic Director for Musae, a women's choral ensemble based in San Francisco.

Dr. Armstrong holds a Bachelors of Arts from Harvard University in Afro-American Studies, a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, where she studied with Dr. Sharon Paul, and a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington, where she studied with Dr. Geoffrey Boers. Her dissertation, entitled “From the mouth and from the heart: the Spiritual Folksongs of Cyrillus Kreek” explores the life of the Estonian composer and his arrangements of folk hymns, with a focus on those written for treble voices. Dr. Armstrong holds a Level I Certification in Kodaly teaching, and has prepared singers to sing with the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony, and Opera Parallel.

Robert Geary, founding Artistic Director of Volti, the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, and the Golden Gate International Choral Festival, also serves as Artistic Director of the San Francisco Choral Society. His multi-dimensional commitment to the choral arts over nearly forty years has led him and his choirs to national and international prominence.  Under his direction for 37 seasons, Volti has become recognized as one of the most important and accomplished new music ensembles in the United States.  For the past 33 years he has overseen the development of the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, an innovative education and performance program whose record of success in competition is at the highest international standard.  With his guiding vision, the Golden Gate International Children’s and Youth Choral Festival has become part of the international choral environment, bringing thousands of young singers from dozens of countries to California for a thrilling series of performances and competitions.  For over 20 years he has led the San Francisco Choral Society to a robust position as a keeper of the traditional repertoire and an innovative force in the commissioning and performance of new works for chorus and orchestra.

Recipient of awards for Outstanding Conductorial Achievement in Giessen Germany and Artistic Interpretation from the Miedzyzdroje Festival in Poland, Geary has also received the KDFC Music Educator of the Year Award and the Lois Blair Rawlings Educational Inspiration Award.

Geary has conducted first performances of nearly 200 compositions.  He has conducted in dozens of countries, served as a clinician and guest conductor in the US, Finland, Denmark and Singapore, and his choirs have been recognized in the United States by invitations to perform for the national conferences of Chorus America, the American Choral Directors Association, the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, and the College Music Society.

His choirs can be heard on recordings with many labels including Other Minds, Harmonia Mundi, Koch International, Swiss International Radio, Ablaze and Innova. They have performed for radio, television, opera, symphony and music festivals nationally and internationally. Geary also has prepared his choirs for some of the world’s leading conductors, including Helmuth Rilling, Robert Shaw, Kurt Herbert Adler, Edo de Waart, Krzysztof Penderecki, Herbert Blomstedt, Dale Warland, Kent Nagano and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Ensemble from the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir (PEBCC) is a group of 41 treble singers age 12-16.  Considered the flagship of PEBCC, Ensemble has toured to 25 countries and has earned First Prizes, Grand Prizes, and Gold Medals in competitions in Russia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hong Kong, Canada, United States, and Slovakia. Since the founding of the Choir Olympics and World Choir Games in 2000, Ensemble remains the only children's choir from the United States to win a first prize. Ensemble has participated in the Laulupidu in Estonia three times and is featured in To Breathe as One, the sequel to The Singing Revolution.  Ensemble has made five tours to Estonia, two tours to Latvia and one tour to Lithuania.

Ancora is a treble choir of 15 singers grades 9-12.  Nearly all the singers in Ancora are graduates of Ensemble and all study voice privately.  Ancora commissions and performs new music each season and performs some of the most adventurous and challenging repertoire literature for treble voices.

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