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Session One: Rutter & Wilberg welcomes diverse voices

June 7, 2019 | Brandy Gottlieb |

Established in 1967, the UWF Singers remain a University tradition.

“Some people have been singing in choirs for more than thirty years, and other people have started their choral journey with the UWF Summer Festival Chorus. Every voice matters and the fact that we can all come together and create beautiful music in only a week is impressive,” says Karma Metzger.

 "Every voice matters and the fact that we can all come together and create beautiful music in only a week is impressive,” says Karma Metzger.

Metzger is one of more than sixty voices who will be performing during the UWF Summer Festival Chorus’ Session One: Rutter & Wilberg.

The UWF Summer Festival Chorus is an outgrowth of the UWF Singers. Setting an example of choral excellence for the Northwest Florida region, the UWF Singers program began in 1967 under the leadership of G. Robert Chancellor.

Now in its third year, the UWF Summer Festival Chorus invites singers of all experience levels to learn and perform classical pieces. Dr. Peter Steenblik, UWF director of choral activities and assistant professor in the Department of Music, directs the program. Steenblik is also the chorus master for the Pensacola Opera, of which several festival members are active participants.

Steenblik has said that participation is especially high for those who enjoyed singing publicly early on in life but lost opportunities to do so as they grew older. The program offers a chance for people to pursue their passion once again without interrupting their daily life and work schedule.

Current festival participants also include those who frequently collaborate with local chorus organizations.

“A lot of people love music and they don’t get enough of it,” says Vivan Luce, a third-year festival chorus participant and 10-year member of the Pensacola Opera Chorus.

Luce began singing with the UWF Summer Festival Chorus in 2017. She says she has returned each year because she loves and enjoys music. Professionally, she pursued business, but has been studying music since she was a child. Now as a retiree, she has returned to her love of studying and performing music.

Amy Maddox majored in music at Shenandoah University and shares that when she finished college and returned home, she missed the camaraderie. She says that Steenblik creates “such an amazing atmosphere” in which to create music.

 “I love being able to sing with a chorus and make music with a group of like-minded people,” Maddox says.

Maddox is a music teacher at both Brentwood and Kingsfield Elementary Schools. She is also a third-year participant and is actively involved in the Pensacola Opera Chorus and Pensacola Little Theatre.

As a music education major at UWF, Metzger says it’s extremely helpful to sing with complete strangers with varying levels of experience. Through the process, she has been learning to understand common problems for newer members and previous members, as well as effective ways to assist in making changes. During the academic year, she’s an active participant with the UWF Singers and has performed as a percussionist and clarinetist in the UWF Symphonic Band.

She says participation in the UWF Summer Festival Chorus is a fun thing to do, as she’s able to relax and enjoy the process of creating music.

Jeremy Ochoa received his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of West Florida in 2003. He grew up playing piano, developed an appreciation for classical music through performance and competition and looks forward to participation in Session Two: Choral Masterpieces. He says sees his involvement as another way to reconnect with his musical background.  

Session One: June 8, 7:30 p.m.

Session One features works by Rutter and Wilberg, two of the most prolific, modern composers. The repertoire includes works such as Rutter’s “Gloria” and Wilberg’s “Shenandoah.” The performance will be held Saturday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

Session Two: June 29, 7:30 p.m.

Session Two: Choral Masterpieces will feature pieces by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Bernstein, Orff, Thompson, and will include movements from landmark works of the choral repertoire. The performance will be June 29, 7:30 p.m. in the UWF Music Hall, UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

Those interested in participating can visit for additional information or to register for participation.