Fall Concert: “How Can I Keep From (live) Singing?”

Recorded Saturday November 13, 2021; published Saturday November 20, 2021 (coming soon!)


Program Order and Notes:

Ave Verum Corpus Imant Raminsh (b. 1943)

I first heard Ave Verum Corpus on a Canadian classical music radio station in the 1990’s.  It is still one of the most beautiful settings of the “Ave Verum Corpus” text I have ever heard. What struck me most is the overall gentleness and delicate nature of the piece, beginning with the soft duet between the altos and sopranos. The piece is unaccompanied and challenging for the singers, and as the piece progresses there are layers of rich harmonies, long extended notes and phrasing requiring sustained breath support and tuning. The piece builds to a wonderful climactic moment when all the voices soar up to the only forte moment in the entire piece. Then, like the beginning, the ending returns to an even softer, more delicate Amen.

–Debra Defotis, soprano

Verleih’ uns Frieden Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1947), arr. Schuneman

featuring Kristine Anderson, piano

Graciously grant us peace, Lord God, in our time;
there is no one else who could fight for us except you ,our God, alone.

I love the Verleih uns Frieden for the simple reason that when I hear Kristine Anderson play this piece, it makes me cry. 

– David Tummons, bass

Ave Maria Franz Biebl (1906-2001)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Trio: Tori Force, Pratha Muthiah, and David Varner

In June 2019, over 300 alumni staged a gala concert to celebrate the career of our high school choir director, Laird Thornton, on the occasion of his retirement after 30 years of teaching. In preparation, a small and previously unacquainted group of us met and rehearsed for several weeks prior to the event, easing the way for bringing our larger alumni choir performances together smoothly. At the event, our small group performed Biebl’s Ave Maria as a chamber piece, under the direction of Mr. Thornton. It was an extraordinary gift for all of us to sing with him again at such a different stage in each of our lives. Laird Thornton passed away in February 2021, having blessed thousands of students and musicians through his life and work. 

– Kristen Wright, alto

“Mary Hynes,” from Reincarnations (Op. 16 no. 1) Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

The Moon is Distant from the Sea David Childs (b. 1941)

featuring Kristine Anderson, piano

The Bellevue Chamber Chorus first sang The Moon is Distant from the Sea in 2007 on our “Hail, Britannia” concert, which was the first time I had ever heard it. I really liked the way the composer David Childs set the parts and accompaniment to Emily Dickenson’s poem – the irresistibility of attraction – capturing the mystery and ambiguity of the poem. And yet the “tune” is one I occasionally find myself humming. It’s a relatively simple piece, and I think it’s made more accessible because of that. I enjoy the way the piece moves from the quiet action of the waves up to the pleading “O Signore!”, only to fall back again like the tide.

–Michael Grube, tenor

Sure on this Shining Night Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943)

featuring Kristine Anderson, piano

I started choral singing later in life in 1993 so every song in the choral repertoire was new to me. To my ear some seemed better than others and some reached me on a deeper level.  Morton Lauridsen (Skip) was one of those composers who really spoke to me.  In 2007, the Bellevue Chamber Chorus was invited to participate in a choral festival that featured Lauridsen as composer in residence and Dale Warland as conductor of the festival’s mass choir. The designated piece was Lauridsen’s Sure on This Shining Night. Three hundred good singers from choirs all over the Puget Sound area joined together in the piece with Lauridsen playing piano accompaniment under Dale Warland’s direction. It was brilliant and a high point of my choral adventure. There are three phrases in the piece that are very meaningful to me: “hearts all whole,” “all is healed,” and “all is health.”  As friends and family have passed and Covid has raged, these phrases and the piece gain more and more significance and I was happy to choose it for this performance.  

–Dennis Defotis, bass

How Can I Keep from Singing? arr. Karen Thomas (b. 1957)

I have many favorite songs and several of them appear in this concert, and How Can I Keep from Singing is one of them.  The title says it all for many of us: how can we not sing!?  Bellevue Chamber Chorus and several regional choirs performed this arrangement by Karen Thomas in a music festival at Benaroya Hall some years ago.  Some versions of the song are a plain-song style, and this arrangement starts with a simple line in the soprano section, but I love the way Ms. Thomas develops cascading lines as each voice section tumbles over one another in a quasi-echo.  In contrast, the middle section presents six-part harmony with the voices singing together, then more cascading lines, and then the piece ends with the eight-part harmony declamatory phrase: “Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing, it sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?”  Very appropriate lyrics for us singers, this concert, and these current times.  

 –Maria Bayer, soprano

I’ll Be Seeing You (from “Right This Way”) Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain, arr. Kirby Shaw

Love Walked In (from “Goldwyn Follies”) George and Ira Gershwin, arr. Ed Lojeski

Misty Johnny Burke and Errol Garner, arr. Kirby Shaw

featuring Kristine Anderson, piano; Bren Plummer, bass; Denali Williams, percussion

The informally-defined Great American Songbook (which includes “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “Love Walked In,” and “Misty”) has been a shared part of American culture for almost a century. Anyone who grew up here is familiar with these songs. Even if you don’t recognize the music, you’ve heard them referenced in countless movies and other pieces of art. “Misty” is the same song from Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me.  “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and “Someone to Watch Over Me” were chapter titles in Neil Gaiman’s 1990’s Sandman comic.  A lot of these songs inspired more than one Hollywood movie. Most importantly for me, I remember my late mother singing them while cooking or preparing teaching material.  The versions the Bellevue Chamber Chorus are sharing bring out the harmonies and rhythms you expect from great jazz.  “Misty” uses countless subtle rhythm variations based on the Samba clave. “Love Walked In” shows off a sequence of really smooth modulations. “I’ll Be Seeing You” is a playful but wicked-sharp tribute to big bands and great singers that spends a few moments praising Frank Sinatra:  “Old Blue-Eyes can really sing, he’s a swing machine, if you know what we mean!”  I hope the chorus can share with you some of the magic that makes these songs great. 

–James McTernan, baritone

The Storm is Passing Over (premiere) Charles Tindley (1851-1933), arr. Ben Luedcke

Duet: Tori Force and Kristine Gilreath

featuring Kristine Anderson, piano; Bren Plummer, bass; Denali Williams, percussion

I first sang an arrangement of The Storm is Passing Over when Bellevue Chamber Chorus toured southern France in the summer of 2017; it was a rousing finale to our performances there. Remembering that experience, I felt the lyrics were appropriate for our current times.  Early this fall, our director, Ben Luedcke, created this new arrangement specifically for our group and for this concert theme, and this is the works premiere.  In dealing with this “Covid storm,” it is passing over us, and we are determined to get through it.  The lyrics “take courage my soul, and let us journey on” give us impetus to prevail.  Even “though the night is dark…the morning light appears,” which helps us remember there is hope and that better times ahead.  Singing together gives us that hope and joy.

–Maria Bayer, soprano


Artistic Director Ben Luedcke is the choir director at Seattle First Baptist Church in downtown Seattle and was recently promoted as the new Minister of Music. He is currently finishing his Doctorate of Musical Arts at University of Washington, studying with Dr. Geoffrey Boers and Dr. Giselle Wyers, and he has held teaching positions in the choral, musicology, and English departments.

Before moving to Washington, Ben was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Monmouth College where he conducted the Monmouth Chorale and chamber choir, and taught music theory, music appreciation, and voice. Ben has also served as faculty at Grinnell College, where he conducted both the Grinnell Singers and the Grinnell Oratorio Society, and taught an introduction to music theory and voice.

Ben is known in Madison, Wisconsin for several of his startup organizations: he was the co-founder and director of Voces Aestatis, a Wisconsin-based professional choir that specialized in the a cappella repertoire of the sixteenth century. Likewise, Ben was the founder and artistic director of Madison Summer Choir, a community chorus that performed large orchestral works. Finally, Ben was the founder and conductor of University of Wisconsin Men’s Choir, a student and community chorus.

Ben completed his Masters of Arts in choral conducting at the University of Iowa where he studied with Dr. Timothy Stalter, and he holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Vanessa, and their two dogs, Luthor and Oona.

Kristine Anderson graduated with a music degree from the University of Montana at Missoula.  She is well-known in the Puget Sound region for her artistic and sensitive work with singers as well as instrumentalists ranging from tuba to piccolo.  Equally at home with jazz, pop, and classical, she can adjust her style from Sondheim to Gershwin to Strauss.

Her clients include winners in local and national competitions, including the Seattle Young Artist Music Festival, Metropolitan Opera semifinals, and concerto contests.  Kristine also serves as accompanist for the Flute and Piccolo Forum, hosted by Seattle Symphony flutist Zart Dombourian Eby. In the fall of 2010, Kristine accompanied a former Flute Forum attendee, Justin Lee, on his Western Washington tour after he won the Ladies Musical Club contest.

In addition to holding two church-pianist positions in Seattle, she was music director for the Seattle Musical Theater, formerly known as Civic Light Opera, during their production of High Society, and the pianist for the Seattle Opera Guild’s Preview shows.  In 2012 she became an employee in the University of Washington Music Department and a staff accompanist. She has been the accompanist for Bellevue Chamber Chorus for the past twelve seasons.  In addition to the Bellevue Chamber Chorus, she accompanies the choir at North Seattle College.

Bren Plummer is the principal bassist in the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, a section bassist in Symphony Tacoma and a frequent performer with the String Orchestra of the Rockies. He frequently fills in for various orchestras such as Bellevue Philharmonic and Spokane Symphony, and is a freelance jazz bassist.  In addition to performing with various orchestras, chamber groups and gigging professionally as a jazz bassist, he leads his own ensembles and has released several albums under his own name. Bren teaches bass at Edmonds College, maintains his own private studio, and has also taught at University of Montana.  B.M. Jazz Studies, New England Conservatory 2000; M.M. String Performance, University of Washington 2005; D.M.A. String Performance, University of Washington 2010.

Denali Williams is a percussionist in his fourth decade of music-making. His work involves a wide range of musical settings including orchestras, rhythm-sections, and various other ensembles.  As an orchestral percussionist he’s currently a member of Symphony Tacoma, Lake Washington Symphony, and Federal Way Symphony. Denali performs as an “extra”​ percussionist for the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, Bellingham Festival of Music Orchestra, and Auburn Symphony.  As a drumset artist and auxiliary percussionist Denali has performed and recorded in dozens of groups of all musical styles. He’s toured throughout the world with bands including Lee Oskar & Friends, Thomas Mapfumo, and Cracker Factory.

Bellevue Chamber Chorus


Maria Bayer

Kristine Bryan

Debra Defotis

Tori Force

Kristine Gilreath

Jane Wasell


Ilona Chebotareva

Jordan Kinder

Pratha Muthiah

Melanie Rogers

Gloria Tzuang

Kristen Wright


Melanie Grube

Michael Grube

Jim Leininger

Paul Roby

David Varner

David Williams


Dennis Defotis

Geoff Hopcraft

James McTernan

Fabien Mousseau

Curtis Nilsen

John Schleg

David Tummons *

Eric Mullen *

* did not participate in this concert