Choral Fest to bow with diverse voices filling Kay White Hall

Here’s a closer look at the programs and music that will fill the air of Kay White Hall.

Lovers of choral music, rejoice.

From April 23-27, six of the Northwest’s finest and most diverse choral ensembles will grace the stage of Vashon Center for the Arts’ Katherine L. White Hall.

The inaugural Katherine L. White Invitational Choral Fest is a non-competitive event that aims to showcase, support and celebrate the musical excellence and distinctive sound and mission of each invited ensemble.

The event, said VCA’s director, Allison Halstead Reid, has been a long time in the making.

“We began planning the Katherine L. White Invitational Choral Festival during the pandemic,” Halstead Reid said. “It was a time of isolation and we were all craving the very things that the choral arts represent so beautifully — community, harmony, and letting your individual humanity sing out. Now that the festival is a reality, we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the diversity of voices and ensembles coming together and being showcased for its inaugural year.”

Groups participating in the inaugural Kay White Choral Fest will include the Emerald Ensemble; Seattle Trans and Nonbinary Choral Ensemble; Ancora Choir; the African American Cultural Ensemble; The Sound of the Northwest; and, of course, the island’s own beloved Vashon Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Gary D. Cannon, one of Seattle’s most versatile choral personalities, active as conductor, singer, and musicologist.

Here’s a closer look at the programs and music that will fill the air of Kay White Hall.

Emerald Ensemble

Tuesday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Emerald Ensemble sings music from the Renaissance to the present day, with an emphasis on classical choral repertoire. For the Kay White Choral Festival, 13 singers will perform pieces from as early as 1595 with “Mass for Five Voices,” by William Byrd, to the world premiere of the recently completed “O Absalom,” by Emerald Ensemble Conductor Gary D. Cannon.

Seattle Trans and Nonbinary Choral Ensemble

Wednesday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m.

STANCE (Seattle Trans and Nonbinary Choral Ensemble) was founded in 2022 as the first chorus led by and for gender-diverse singers. The ensemble’s program will include contemporary songs from around the word, musical theater, and popular culture alongside the writings of Langston Hughes, Leonardo DaVinci, and poet James Weldon Johnson.

Ancora Choir

Thursday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Ancora Choir was born 20 years ago when alumnae of the Seattle Girl’s Choir decided to reunite for the joy of singing. For the Kay White Choral Festival, a choir of 25 women’s voices, led by conductor J. Scott Kovacs and accompanied by pianist Yuly Kopkin, will present a program of 14 songs featuring the “Four Folk Songs of the Four Seasons,” by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

African American Cultural Ensemble

Friday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m.

The African American Cultural Ensemble was created during the racial reckoning of 2020 as a vehicle for inspiration, comfort, and collective healing. Twelve voices, along with pianist K. Kent Stevenson, will perform a program of 11 songs that include traditional spirituals alongside songs by R&B musicians like by Bill Withers (“Lean on Me”) and McFadden & Whitehead (“Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.”)

The Sound of the Northwest

Saturday, April 27 at 4 p.m.

The Sound of the Northwest was formed in 1987 to present unique offerings of spirituals and gospel music from a cross-section of the faith community. For the Kay White Choral Festival, Director Elias Bullock, 17 singers, and three musicians (piano, bass guitar, and drums) will perform a repertory that focuses on African American Spirituals and includes spoken word and even dance.

Vashon Island Chorale

Saturday April 27, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 28 at 3 p.m.

Inspired by her time singing in the Vashon Island Chorale, Katherine L. White (or Kay, as she was known) made the hall that bears her name a reality, and her legacy. For the inaugural season of the Kay White Choral Festival, the Vashon Island Chorale will reprise “Carmina Burana,” which it performed at the auditorium’s opening ceremony in 2016, with Kay sitting in the front row.

All performances are free for those 18 and younger, with a ticket reservation. Buy festival passes ($126) and tickets to individual performances ($35) at