Alumni Spotlight: Dale Warland
The career of choral composer and conductor Dale Warland spans more than six decades and has made a profound contribution to the music of our time. Warland is the founder and music director of the Dale Warland Singers, with whom he has commissioned more than 270 new choral works and fostered the careers of a generation of composers.
Warland and the ensemble have produced numerous recordings, including Walden Pond, which was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for best choral performance in 2003; Lux Aurumque, named a Top Ten Classical Album of 2007 by NPR; and Harvest Home, which reached number 11 in the Billboard Top Classical Albums in 2005.
Warland recalls his time as a student at USC and the impact that this nurturing environment had on his developing career.
“Being surrounded each and every day at USC by talented and productive faculty and colleagues – who all had extensive experience – automatically raised the level of my own aspirations and provided inspiration for me to do my very best,” says Warland.
He says that when he attended USC, in 1960-65, choral music was held in high esteem on the campus – equal to opera and instrumental music – which was not necessarily the case in other communities. He describes Southern California in those days as a “hot bed” of choral activity. “USC was an obvious major influence in developing leadership both in choral composition and choral conducting up and down the entire west coast,” says Warland.
Warland credits the musical backgrounds of the students and faculty with whom he studied – which were very diverse – with helping him and others in the program to be more aware and more knowledgeable than they would otherwise have been. He fondly remembers studying with classmates Bob Isgro, Royce Saltzman, Darlene Lawrence, Ella Lou Schlegel, Doug Lawrence, Brandon Mehrle, Jacque Norman, Lorna Adams, and Barbara and Bob Hasty. Likewise, faculty such as Charles Hirt, William Vennard, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, Frank Zimmerman, Halsey Stevens, Ingolf Dahl, and James Vail all influenced his education.
In addition to his work with the Warland Singers and as a conductor and composer, Warland has served as guest faculty at the University of Utah, California State University at Fullerton, Azusa Pacific University, Yale University and North Dakota State University. Since 2008, Warland has served as artistic director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale and for the past two seasons has served as music director for the Minnesota Beethoven Music Festival Chorale. He has also served as guest-conductor for such notable choral organizations as the Swedish Radio Choir, the Danish Radio Choir, Chanticleer, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Israel’s Cameran Singers, among others.
He has also served as guest-conductor for such notable choral organizations as the Swedish Radio Choir, the Danish Radio Choir, Chanticleer, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Israel’s Cameran Singers, among others.
The awards and accolades for Warland’s work – including honorary degrees, leadership awards, and cultural and artistic recognition – are too numerous to list, but all are evidence of Warland’s talent and dedication to choral music.
“For me, choral singing is, in its fundamental essence, a spiritual experience. When all the essential elements are brought together, our souls and our entire being are enriched,” says Warland.
Warland believes that choral music is important to our society because of the fundamental need in all of us for beauty – for the ear and for the heart. “Choral singing can provide incredible beauty that will fulfill that ongoing basic need in life,” says Warland.
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