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Choral Arts Initiative Announces 11th Season

Artistic Director Brandon Elliott and Choral Arts Initiative (CAI) will present their most ambitious season to date, holding quarterly concerts that explore all facets of the human experience.

The season opener on November 6, 2022 will include world premiere works by Dale Trumbore and Dylan Dylan Trần, adding to the over eighty works premiered by CAI throughout the past decade. CAI’s annual PREMIERE | Project Festival, which closes the season, offers selected composers a workshop/commission experience with in-depth seminars, mentoring sessions, and a premiere concert and recording session with the award-winning choral ensemble.

Irvine, CA – July 7, 2022 – Today, Artistic Director Brandon Elliott and his Choral Arts Initiative announce their 2022-23 season. The southern California based ensemble – recognized as a champion of new music as a recipient of the American Prize in Choral Performance and an ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming – will present four quarterly concerts in its 11th season, each exploring a different dimension of the human experience.

Choral Arts Initiative’s season opens November 6, 2022, with, “Home”, a concert anchored by the world premiere of composer Dale Trumbore’s The Opposites Game, which asks an almost unanswerable question: “What is the opposite of a gun?”. “Home” also includes the world premiere of Tupelo Poems by Dylan Trần and the West Coast premieres of Migration by Michael Gilbertson and To Propagate a Home by Ayanna Woods. Following on March 5, 2023 is the West Coast premiere of Kile Smith’s Canticle and on May 21, 2023, a concert featuring Rex Isenberg’s Messiahs: False and True, along with the West Coast premieres of Joel Thompson’s Hold Fast to Dreams, B.E. Boykin’s Holding the Light, Ariel Sol Bertulfo Schwartz’s Willow Poem, and the a cappella world premiere of Derrick Skye’s Glimpse Elation. The season will close with CAI’s annual PREMIERE | Project Festival, during which selected emerging composers come to finalize a composition in a workshop setting. The concluding concert includes a live and recorded public premiere of each composer’s work.

“Season 10 was an inspiring year as we emerged from the pandemic crisis, looked back at our history, and dreamed of what we could do next,” says Brandon Elliott. “ Season 11 is our first step into the next decade of our mission-driven work to partner with living composers and integrate these works into the fabric of our community. The power of working with living composers is their ability to capture our lived experiences in the here and now. We have had ample time to sit in contemplation and questioning during these past two years. As we hold the mirror up to ourselves and look inward, we also look outward. As we seek answers to the future, we often must look at our past. As we seek comfort, one must look to our home--a person, a place, a feeling. These thoughts, which speak to the core of our human experience, serve as the narrative thread for Season 11. The vibrantly diverse selection of composers, texts, sounds, and guest artists will offer our listeners a compelling, thought-provoking, and inspiring music curation this season.”

Choral Arts Initiative | Season 11 | 2022-23

Brandon Elliott, Artistic Director

Tickets for all performances may be purchased online.

Fall 2022:


Sunday, November 6 at 4:30 p.m.

St. Mark Presbyterian Church

2200 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Newport Beach 92660

In the opening concert of their 11th season, Choral Arts Initiative explores the question of what makes a home: is it a place? A feeling? Or the people who live in it? The program is anchored by a world premiere version of Dale Trumbore’s The Opposites Game for chorus and piano. Brendan Constantine's text for the work plays with the idea of having a "right" answer as it asks what may be an unanswerable question: “What is the opposite of a gun?” Other works on the program include the West Coast premieres of Michael Gilbertson’s Migration, Ayanna Woods’ To Propagate a Home, and the world premiere of Dylan Trần’s Tupelo Poems.

Program Repertoire

Migration by Michael Gilbertson (West Coast Premiere)

The Opposites Game by Dale Trumbore (World Premiere)

Whispers of Jasmine by Julia Adolphe

To Propagate a Home by Ayanna Woods (West Coast Premiere)

“Home” from The Sacred Veil by Eric Whitacre

Tupelo Poems by Dylan Trần (World Premiere)

Kevin Mills, cello

Winter 2023:

Canticle by Kile Smith

Sunday, March 5 at 4:30 p.m.

St. Mark Presbyterian Church

2200 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Newport Beach 92660

CAI presents the West Coast premiere of Kile Smith’s 65-minute Canticle, which sets the stunning Spiritual Canticle text by Saint John of the Cross – a canticle poem that he authored and memorized while imprisoned for nine months. The canticle poem is an allegory that uses the metaphor of marriage to explain the mystical process that follows the soul until it reaches its union with God.


Jocelyn Francis

Michael Phillips

Eddie Chang Yue

(Cello contractor & score preparations: Kevin Mills)

Percussionist (vibraphone, bass drum, tambourine):

Christina Cheon

Spring 2023:


In “Echoes” CAI first examines Messianic leaders – heroic and horrific – throughout history in Rex Isenberg’s Messiahs: False and True, juxtaposing the exploration of the past with inspiring and hopeful works for our future by Joel Thompson, B.E. Boykin, and Ariel Sol Bertulfo Schwartz.

Sunday, May 21 at 4:30 p.m.

St. Wilfrid’s Episcopal Church

18631 Chapel Ln, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Program Repertoire

Messiahs: False and True by Rex Isenberg

Hold Fast to Dreams by Joel Thompson (West Coast Premiere)

Holding the Light by B.E. Boykin (West Coast Premiere)

Willow Poem by Ariel Sol Bertulfo Schwartz (West Coast Premiere)

Glimpse Elation by Derrick Skye (World Premiere, a cappella version)

Guest Organist:

Bill Wells

Guest Percussionist:

Christina Cheon

Summer 2023:

PREMIERE|Project Festival

Friday, June 30 at 7 p.m.

Venue details TBA

Composers and artists to be announced in April 2023

More information can be found at

About Choral Arts Initiative

Choral Arts Initiative is a non-profit 501(c)(3) choral organization comprised of some of the most talented and passionate musicians in the Southern California region. Widely recognized as a champion of new music, Choral Arts Initiative has been praised as “gracefully lyrical” (Voice of OC), hailed as one of Orange County’s “Best Choirs” (CBS News, Los Angeles), and noted for its “sublime” and “triumphant” performances (Textura). Winner of the American Prize in Choral Performance, recipient of the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming, and Winner of the San Francisco Classical Voice Audience Choice Awards for Best New Music Performance, Choral Arts Initiative continues its commitment to musical innovation and excellence. Their inaugural album, How to Go On: The Choral Works of Dale Trumbore, ranked #6 on the Billboard Charts (Traditional Classical Albums), and #4 on the iTunes Best Seller Classical Charts. Their passion for new music has led to the commission of nineteen compositions and the premiere of over eighty works. In April 2022, Navona Records released From Wilderness: A Meditation on the Pacific Coast Trail, composer Jeffrey Derus’ new concert-length work and meditation on the transformative experience of traveling the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile scenic coastal hiking pathway that stretches the length of the pacific coastline of the United States and traverses the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.

About Brandon Elliott, Artistic Director

Brandon Elliott enjoys an expansive career as a conductor-educator, musician, arts leader, and consultant. He is the Founder & Artistic Director of Choral Arts Initiative, an award-winning new music choral ensemble based in Orange County, CA. Under his leadership, Choral Arts Initiative has received critical acclaim and recognition for its artistic excellence, musical innovation, and dedication to performing music from a vibrant roster of living composers. With a passion for new music, he has conducted the premiere of over 70 works.

Equally passionate about teaching, training, and mentoring musicians, Elliott is the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Moorpark College. He regularly serves as an adjudicator, clinician, preparatory conductor, guest conductor, and guest speaker for festivals, competitions, and local K-12 programs, and is a semifinalist for the 2022 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. As a vocal musician, Elliott has sung with various professional and contracted choruses. Previous engagements include singing under Craig Hella-Johnson in the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Pacific Chorale with John Alexander, and various ad hoc ensembles for artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Beck, Star Wars Live, and Zelda Live.

Elliott maintains professional memberships with ACDA, NAfME, MACCC, and Chorus America. His writings have been featured in both Tactus and The Music Educators Journal. Additionally, he has presented on choral entrepreneurship at the 2016 and 2017 Chorus America national conferences and was a panelist for the CCDA Choral Leadership Academy. He currently serves on the California Choral Directors Association board as the Repertoire & Resources Chair for Community and Professional Choruses. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and a teaching credential from California State University, Fullerton, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, a specialist certificate in Music Business Leadership from the Berklee College of Music, and a Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California. Learn more at

For more information:

Amanda Sweet/Bucklesweet


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