Creating Meaningful Music – Queen Anne & Magnolia News

For Joseph Hong, being a choir director is not limited to refining the voices of singers and interpreting beautiful music. it’s an opportunity to build community through the love of music.

To loved music all his life. He currently teaches choir and piano at a school in Tukwila and conducts the Norwegian Ladies Chorus in Ballard. Starting this fall, he will also lead the Magnolia Chorale as the new choirmaster.

To, who grew up in Hong Kong, graduated in 2020 in Choral Conducting and Chinese Choral Music and is interested in presenting ethno-musicality in the classroom, especially world music with an emphasis on teaching singing to non-Chinese in this language.

He heard about the opening at Magnolia through an association of choir directors and wanted to take the opportunity because he loves community choirs and finds the experience meaningful.

“I’ve always found the community choir to be very special,” To said. “People who come into these choirs really want to be there. They really want to learn.

To say he is thrilled to be the new director of an organization with over 30 years of history in the community with many great directors in the past. He replaces Jean-Marie Kent, who left the position of choir director after last season to pursue another choir opportunity in Seattle.

He said he particularly enjoys working for a board that supports his ideas and encourages him to try new things and bring new enthusiasm to the choir.

“The best thing about working with a community choir is working with dedicated singers and creating a community beyond the choir itself,” To said.

For him, one of his main priorities as the new director of Magnolia is to “bring diversity” by diversifying concert programs and musical selections, as well as creating a safe, welcoming and pleasant environment for all. .

“When we make music, it’s not just about the product – the gig. We also create community in the choir and in the community as a whole,” he said.

To, whose first day was officially July 1, spent the summer preparing and finding music for the upcoming choir season, which begins September 11.

He said he wanted to introduce the choir to new music from new voices: people of color, women, regional composers and possibly a student.

To say that he wants the choral arrangements to appeal equally to everyone: the musical selections will feature all voices and scales.

“I try to find music where everyone can have a melody,” he said.

While the choir has dwindled to about 30 members during the pandemic, it has about 100 active and non-active members in total, To said, and he would like to see those numbers increase.

“If we can get those numbers back to where they were, that would be great,” he said. “It’s been a crazy time for the performing arts, and I hope we provide a place where people feel safe, welcome and supported.”

People have the opportunity to meet To and honor Kent at an outdoor open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Magnolia United Church of Christ, 3555 W. McGraw St.

Magnolia Chorale’s fall season begins September 11th. New members are welcome. For more information, visit magnoliachorale.org.