New Artistic Director Announced
Walla Walla — July 12, 2021
Walla Walla Choral Society Board president
Walla Walla Choral Society announces its selection of new Artistic Director
Dr. Jenelle Anderson will take the helm in August.
WALLA WALLA, Wash. — After an extensive selection process, the board of the Walla Walla Choral Society (WWCS) is pleased to announce Dr. Jenelle Westerbeck Anderson will be the group’s next artistic director. She will begin Aug. 1, 2021, in time for the Choral Society to welcome singers back to in-person rehearsals starting Aug. 30.
“After a rigorous screening process that included responding to a written questionnaire and preparing a sample concert program, we invited several candidates to formally interview for the position,” explained Bob Schumacher, WWCS Board president. “Though all candidates were impressive, our board decided unanimously that Jenelle would be the best fit to help lift our voices out of the pandemic and onto our path forward for years to come.”
Anderson’s experience and connection to the Walla Walla Valley
Anderson has more than 30 years’ experience as a musician, music educator and director. She served most recently as an instructor/director at Walla Walla University. Before that, she was an assistant professor of music at Pacific Union College and an instructor/lecturer at the University of Southern California, and led several church and community choirs.
“Group singing is a passion of mine, and collaborating with a group of volunteers who are there for the love of the music is an exciting opportunity,” Anderson said.
She started her musical career as an instrumentalist concentrating on violin and piano, but expanded her academic knowledge and experience in music education and choral music, receiving a Master of Music in choral music from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a Doctor of Musical Arts (choral conducting) from the University of Southern California.
She has been a longtime member of the American Choral Directors Association, Choristers Guild and Conductors Guild.
Anderson has strong roots in the Walla Walla Valley. She grew up here and attended Walla Walla College before finishing her bachelor’s degree at Atlantic Union College. She is pleased to return “home” to Walla Walla to be closer to her sister, Cynthia, and her parents.
"After years in Southern California, I'm loving the return to beautiful, crisp fall weather and real winters,” Anderson said.
Upcoming concerts planned
The Walla Walla Choral Society’s first post-pandemic concert will be “Our Songs of Joy,” kicking off the holiday season on Nov. 28 and 29, 2021, at the Gesa Power House Theatre. The group also plans to perform “Good Vibrations” on March 13 and 14, 2022. This revue of 1960s classics was concert-ready in March 2020 when COVID restrictions shut down performances. The singers can’t wait to dust off the music (and their costumes!) to perform this music next spring.
"I'm delighted to join this wonderful organization of dedicated singers and lovers of choral music,” Anderson said. “I look forward to working with the members of the Choral Society and helping to shape the course of the organization going forward.”
About the Walla Walla Choral Society
The Walla Walla Choral Society has delivered the gift of song to our community for more than 116 years. In late 2019, the WWCS Board completed a new strategic plan that included the creation of a children’s chorus, and plans to build enhanced collaborations and mutual support throughout the local performing-arts community.
As was the case with many organizations and businesses, the pandemic postponed and cancelled in-person rehearsals and concerts for the Choral Society. Nevertheless, many of the group’s 60-plus singers stayed connected throughout 2020 via video rehearsals. This was both in anticipation that conditions would improve to allow for in-person rehearsals and concerts, and because they enjoy each other’s company.
Despite losing expected revenue from ticket sales and concert sponsors, the Choral Society has been fortunate to receive continued financial support from businesses, grants and individual donors.
“We are truly grateful and humbled by the generosity of our community, especially from our member singers and many businesses that continued or increased their financial support as we had to postpone and cancel performances,” Schumacher said. “We are confident that we have found a fantastic new artistic director, and we can’t wait to see everyone at our upcoming performances.”
“I hope to continue the group’s recent success in expanding its connections to the community, and to pursue the board’s vision of starting an ensemble for young people,” Anderson said.