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Choral Arts Initiative Announces 12th Season

Artistic Director Brandon Elliott and Choral Arts Initiative (CAI) will present an ambitious Season 12 with four world premiere commissioned works.

Irvine, CA – July 28, 2023 – Today, Artistic Director Brandon Elliott and his Choral Arts Initiative announce their 2023-24 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 12th season, each building upon the narrative arc of the season theme: "threads of connection." In addition to their main season, two additional exciting announcements are forthcoming later this fall.

Tracing a season-long narrative arc along the theme of "Threads of Connection," Choral Arts Initiative’s season opens November 12, 2023, with, “Tapestry of Time." The program features two extended choral works which calls for chamber ensemble forces. The first is Christopher Cerrone's west coast premiere of The Branch That Will Not Break, which urges listeners to reflect on the fleeting nature of life and the profound impact of our interactions with the natural world. Gregory Spears' The Tower and the Garden juxtaposes the dangers of technological hubris (the tower) and the need for a place of refuge (the garden) in a world threatened by war and ecological disaster. Following on March 10, 2024 with "Tapestry of Becoming," are four commissioned works by Juhi Bansal, Jeffrey Derus, Dale Trumbore, and Derrick Skye plus additional works by Aaron Manswell (PREMIERE|Project Festival alumnus), Ayanna Woods, and Iván Enrique Rodríguez. The program outlines a beautiful journey of self-discovery, resilience, transformation, and love. "Tapestry of Connection" on May 19, 2024 features several new works such as the west coast premiere of She Will Transform You by Reena Esmail, We Listen by Alex Berko, Sometimes We Talk Past Each Other by Saunder Choi, Archive Alive by Ayanna Woods, and Time by Jennifer Lucy Cook. 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.

“Last year, we told ourselves that Season 11 was our most ambitious season yet. But Season 12 doubles down on our ambition and initiative,” says Managing Director, Kyrstin Ohta. Artistic Director Brandon Elliott commented on the new season, “Season 12 curates a beautiful tapestry of poetry which connects throughout each program and the entire season, all while amplifying a vibrantly diverse roster of living composers. Through their music, we aim to explore the essence of being human, delving into the depths of our shared experiences, the intricate process of self-discovery, and the journey toward belonging that binds us together. Through the ethereal harmonies and expressive melodies, we hope to foster a profound understanding of ourselves and each other, connecting hearts and minds in an unforgettable choral experience.”

Choral Arts Initiative | Season 12 | 2023-24

Brandon Elliott, Artistic Director

Tickets for all performances may be purchased online.

Fall 2023:

Tapestry of Time

Sunday, November 12 at 4:30 p.m.

St. Mark Presbyterian Church

2200 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Newport Beach 92660

Embark on a profound and introspective journey into the intricate tapestry of human existence and its interplay with time and the natural world. The Tower and the Garden by Gregory Spears presents a contemplative exploration of spirituality, history, and the consequences of human actions, using vivid imagery and allegorical elements to evoke emotions of wonder and regret. The Branch That Will Not Break by Christopher Cerrone delves into themes of transience, loss, and the fleeting beauty of nature, enveloping the reader in poignant scenes and reflections on life's complexities. Both pieces invite us to ponder the significance of time, the human experience, and our profound connection to the natural world.

Program Repertoire

The Tower and the Garden by Gregory Spears (Southern California Premiere)

The Branch That Will Not Break by Christopher Cerrone (West Coast Premiere)

Winter 2024:

Tapestry of Becoming

Sunday, March 10 at 4:30 p.m.

St. Mark Presbyterian Church

2200 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Newport Beach 92660

Tapestry of Becoming takes you on a beautiful journey of self-discovery, resilience, transformation, and love. Featuring four commissioned works, the pieces talk about finding your place in the world, loving yourself, and appreciating everything life has to offer. There's a metaphorical story about a river bravely entering the vast ocean, becoming something greater in the process. The pieces also give blessings for peace, harmony, and eternal grace, showing the importance of hope and trust. You'll find a longing to connect with nature and the elements, finding comfort in the music of the mountains. The program ends with a powerful message of strength and faith, celebrating life's unyielding spirit. Join us for this captivating musical journey.

Program Repertoire

Titles for commissioned works to be announced

Featuring additional works by Iván Enrique Rodríguez, Ayanna Woods, and Aaron Manswell

Spring 2024:

Tapestry of Connection

Join us as we explore themes of identity, belonging, and connection. Esmail's She Will Transform You reflects on feeling disconnected from one's homeland and the hope for a better future for the next generation. Berko's We Listen celebrates the interconnectedness of the world and the power of empathy to create unity. Choi's Sometimes We Talk Past Each Other dives into nostalgia, time's passing, and the desire for connection. Overall, the program captures human experiences and emotions, inviting readers to reflect on their own self-discovery journeys and the power of empathy and art to forge connections.

Sunday, May 19 at 4:30 p.m.

St. Wilfrid’s Episcopal Church

18631 Chapel Ln, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Program Repertoire

She Will Transform You by Reena Esmail (West Coast Premiere)

We Listen by Alex Berko (West Coast Premiere)

Sometimes We Talk Past Each Other (West Coast Premiere)

Chorus + String Quartet

Archive Alive by Ayanna Woods

Time by Jennifer Lucy Cook (World Premiere)

You Have a Name and a Place by Lansing McLoskey (West Coast Premiere)

Summer 2024:

PREMIERE|Project Festival

Friday, June 28 at 7 p.m.

Zhang Hall @ Concordia University Irvine

Irvine, CA 92612

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 second album, "From Wilderness: A Meditation on the Pacific Crest Trail" charted for three consecutive weeks on Billboard and was the #1 Best Seller on Amazon and iTunes. Their passion for new music has led to the commission of twenty five compositions and the premiere of over 100 works.

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, 2017, and 2023 Chorus America national conferences and was a panelist for the CCDA Choral Leadership Academy. He currently serves on the American Choral Directors Association National Standing Committee for Repertoire & Resources for 2-Year Colleges. He previously served 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

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