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WIU Director of Choral Studies Brian J. Winnie
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WIU's Winnie Founds Professional Vocal Ensemble, withonevoice

November 18, 2022

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MACOMB, IL – In an effort to teach more diverse styles of singing, a member of Western Illinois University's Music faculty has established the non-profit, professional vocal ensemble, withonevoice.

The ensemble, run by WIU Director of Choral Studies Brian J. Winnie, is set up as a residency on the WIU campus, and is also based in Chicago, for students ages 18 and over. Auditions are being accepted now for the 16-member ensemble, which will gather at WIU July 17-20. The gathering will culminate with a performance at WIU's College of Fine Arts and Communication Recital Hall July 20, and a second at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. July 21.

"Think back to your earliest memory of singing," said Winnie. "What did you love to sing? Maybe it was a pop tune or maybe it was an old jazz ballad. If you were like me, you didn't get a chance to be trained in these styles throughout school. Instead, you most likely learned how to sing the standard of classical training as the foundation to all singing. I am a passionate advocate for helping choral singers understand how their voices work to perform various styles in an authentic and sustainable way."

The inaugural season's program, "Beating Hearts," will feature commissions from composers Katerina Gimon and Matthew Brown.

Winnie said the idea was born about four years ago when he and a few close friends met to brainstorm their next educational steps for teaching future generations of singers and teachers.

"We thought, 'Let's build a vocal ensemble that learns and works with new ideals of vocal training,'" he said. "This is where the dream of creating a non-profit, professional vocal ensemble began, and I am thrilled to announce that this has finally become a reality."

The goal of the ensemble project is to provide experiences and performances that promote "excellence in the choral arts through traditional and innovative programming that seeks to entertain, educate, enrich, and expose performers and audiences to a broad range of vocal style."

Video-recorded audition submissions are being sought from soprano, alto, tenor and bass choral signers for the positions, which pay $75-$100 per call for rehearsals and performances.

For more information about the opportunity, visit

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