Choral Leader Alexander Lloyd Blake Holds School of Music Residency

Alexander Lloyd Blake Conducts a classroom of choral students

School of Music choral ensemble students recently had a special opportunity to work with Alexander Lloyd Blake, an award-winning artist, conductor, composer/arranger, vocal contractor, singer, and music activist. Blake conducts the group tonality, and is an active vocalist who has recorded for several film scores, including the soundtrack of Jordan Peele’s “Us," Disney’s “Lion King," and Blue Sky Studios’ “Spies in Disguise.”

Blake had very positive remarks about his visit to the School of Music. “Hearing these students sing was a joy, but I am continually inspired by the questions they are asking and the ways that we can imagine our art playing an important role in helping others in our community. I am also grateful to have witnessed a program that really looks to support graduate students in their passions, and I am inspired by what may come from these future leaders in our field.”  

Alexander Lloyd Blake conducts choral students.

Kathy Saltzman Romey, Director of Choral Activities, was thrilled to have the privilege of hosting Blake for a week-long residency, along with members of the Minnesota Chorale and Border CrosSing. “I find Dr. Blake's work and the mission of his professional ensemble tonality – "to deliver authentic stories through voice and body to incite change, understanding, and dialogue" – to be incredibly inspiring and impactful.” Romey said. “Through his programming, he challenged us to confront issues of gun violence, homelessness, immigration, climate change, and racial profiling, while also creating a safe space to share and connect as a broader community.  Dr. Blake exemplifies a new generation of choral leaders, who champion and uplift diversity, equity, access, and inclusion in every aspect of his work. I am extremely grateful for the time he spent with our University students in the classroom and rehearsal.” 

Throughout the week, Blake was invited to work with several choral ensembles. Romey was particularly impressed with Blake’s presentation to the undergraduate and graduate conducting students on the mission of social justice performance activity of his professional vocal ensemble, tonality.  

Blake also inspired Kathy Saltzman Romey’s song choices for the choral group’s performance at the School of Music’s annual Collage Concert on Sunday, October 16. True Colors – with music and lyrics by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly – is a choral arrangement of the popular song by Saunder Choi, a Los Angeles-based Filipino composer and choral artist. Choi's compositions have been performed by the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Tonality, the CrosSing Choir, LA Master Chorale Chamber Singers, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, World Youth Choir, Asia Pacific Youth Choir, and many others. The song was performed by Dr. Blake with the Minnesota Chorale and Border CrosSing on his October program 'Singing Truth: An American Conversation' as a musical statement of acceptance, empathy, love, and community. 

UMN Choirs’ next performance will be on November 5, 2022 at 7:30 PM in Ted Mann Concert Hall, and will feature the University Singers, Women's Chorus, and Campus Singers performing a selection of songs from around the globe. The concert is dedicated to the memory of Professor Wendy Zaro-Mullins. For more information, including streaming, visit this page


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