U Chamber Choir Wins International Competition in Europe

By Kylee Ehmann

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Competing in an international collegiate singing competition wasn’t just the plot of this summer’s “Pitch Perfect 2 — the U’s Chamber Choir also brought home a win from the European Choral Grand Prix.

The Prix, which hosted choirs from around the world and had a jury composed of judges from six countries, is one of the most prestigious chamber choir competitions. The U’s win marked the third time an American team has won.

Eric Schmidt, who is getting his DMA at the U’s School of Music, has been a member of the choir for three years. He said winning the competition “was a really, really good feeling.”

“It’s a very prestigious competition,” he said. “We worked really hard over the entire year to win this competition, and it was a big treat to see all the work has paid off.”

Barlow Bradford, director of the choir, said coaching can be difficult, given that each year some members graduate and leave. This past year he said he had 12 new members out of the 28 singers.

“The reason that we went to this competition this year is because we won the regional competition last year,” Bradford said. “It’s tricky because you don’t know what your choir is going to sound like and whether they’ll be able to rise to the level of what you had produced in the initial competition.”

Bradford said many of the members who joined this past year were inexperienced in working on an ensemble at the collegiate level. After a year of daily practice and working to perfect the smallest of details, Bradford said the group “transformed into a choir that was just unbeatable.”

Schmidt said he enjoys seeing how new members of the choir grow each year, both musically and socially.

“It takes some weeks or months to grow together,” he said. “We pretty much want to continue to keep singing on a really high level and represent the school on a really high level.”

Bradford is proud of his choir for winning the international competition.

“We had this mountain we had to climb, and they sang their best at competition and that was exciting to have this progression over the months and have that one moment be their top moment,” he said.

The choir also went on a European tour and performed in cathedrals in Paris, Normandy and Barcelona.

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