School of the Arts

Choral Ensembles: Hear the Joyful News

Choir singing

The California State University, Chico Acappella Choir, Chamber Singers, and University Chorus present Hear the Joyful News on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre in the Performing Arts Center.

A healthy dose of spirituals and gospel tune will be performed along with other selections from the choral repertoire.

“The highlight of this concert will be the Acappella Choir’s performance of Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass,” said David Scholz, director of choral activities and Department of Music and Theatre faculty member. “This is a 30-minute piece which is basically the traditional Latin Mass text, using a combination of both the traditional Latin text as well as English translations of the mass parts, and set in the style of African American spiritual or gospel music.”

Written in the late 1970’s, the piece was first published in 1981 and has been a staple of choral literature for choirs around the country ever since. “This is a great opportunity for the students to sing a style of music that might have been unfamiliar to them before now — and there are numerous opportunities for students to sing solos as well,” said Scholz. 

Tickets are available at the University Box Office, 530-898-6333, or at the door.

About the "Gospel Mass"

Robert Ray headshot
Robert Ray

California State University, Chico will be presenting the fall choral concert Hear the Joyful News. The concert will take place Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre. For tickets call the University Box Office, 530-898-6333.

A series of uplifting songs from the Gospel Mass by Robert Ray will be performed by the University Chorus, Acapella Choir, and Chamber Singers.

Ray is a well-known composer and music educator. Ray earned a BA in piano performance at Northern University. He became a professor at the University of Illinois-Urbana. 

Ray’s Gospel Mass includes “Acclamation–Hallelujah Praise the Lord,” “Angus Dei–Lamb of God,” “Credo­–I Believe in God,” “Gloria–Glory to God in The Highest,” “Kyrie–Lord Have Mercy,” and “Sanctus–Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts.” The purpose of gospel music is to praise God and acknowledge what God has done in people’s lives.

Ray’s Gospel Mass is unique for a variety of reasons. When Ray pursued being an educator at the University of Illinois-Urbana, he was asked to create the arrangement. The idea was inspired by the Second Vatican Council. The council decided to hold masses in the native language of the host country instead of Latin (the primary language) in the 1960’s. This opened the door for changes, creativity, and innovation.

The Gospel Mass, is a combination of African American rhythm and harmony paired with words from the Catholic Mass. The first time the Gospel Mass premiered was in 1979. The mass promoted multiculturalism and inclusiveness.

The Gospel Mass originally was an experiment and never meant to attract international attention, or to be performed more than once. However, it has been well-received by a multitude of audiences. This work continues to be performed by choirs in churches around the world.

“There was an incredible response,” Ray stated in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. “We performed to jam-packed houses. I was very, very excited. To have that kind of response to the first work you have ever written was very gratifying. Like I said: ‘It was the hand of the Almighty.”


Story by Tashia Jones, publicity assistant

About the Choral Ensembles

University Chorus

The University Chorus is a non-auditioned ensemble open to CSU, Chico students of any major, faculty, and community members. The University Chorus sings a wide variety of choral music, including choral masterworks, and usually features piano accompaniment by Clark Minor, Department of Music and Theatre faculty member.

Acappella Choir

The Acappella Choir is an auditioned ensemble made up of about 60 to 65 CSU, Chico students of any major. The ensemble is directed by David Scholz, Department of Music and Theatre faculty member. The Acappella Choir performs a diverse repertoire of quality vocal music written anywhere from the seventeenth to twenty-first century. This diverse selection of songs can include anything from classical works to folk music. The ensemble is typically accompanied by Clark Minor on piano.

Chamber Singers

The Chamber Singers is the most advanced auditioned choir. It is smaller than the Acappella Choir, containing approximately 20 members. Also directed by David Scholz, the members of the choir are CSU, Chico students of any major who are also in Acappella Choir. The Chamber Singers sing challenging choral literature in various styles. They perform a selection of songs from around the world that are teeming with depth and excellence. Their vocals are generally accompanied by Clark Minor on piano.

About the Director

David Scholz, portrait style

David Scholz is the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at California State University, Chico. He directs the Acappella Choir and Chamber Singers and teaches various music classes, including vocal studio instruction. He oversees the Chico Bach Festival, the Centennial Organ Recital Series, and co-coordinates Glorious Sounds of the Season. He is a faculty senator, on the Student Evaluation of Teaching Committee, chair of the department’s Retention, Tenure, and Promotion Committee, on the Humanities and Fine Arts Scholarship Committee, and is a member of the Instructionally Related Activities Advisory Board. Scholz has a BA in vocal music education from St. Olaf College, an MA in choral conducting from Michigan State University, and a PhD in conducting from the University of Minnesota. He was named Young Conductor of the Year by the Minnesota American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) (2003). Scholz is the director of the Chancel Choir at Bidwell Presbyterian Church and in 2010 founded the North Valley Chamber Chorale. He is a contributing author to Teaching Music through Performance in Choir, Volumes II, III and IV. Scholz is a member of the ACDA, the National Collegiate Choral Organization, Music Educators National Conference, California Music Educators Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Kappa Phi. He and his wife Dara, a professional singer and vocal instructor, reside in Chico, CA with their son, Luka.