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Groups: Alumni Choir: About

The Calvin College Alumni Choir, whose members are alumni of Calvin College, has been established to organize, promote, and sponsor a choir of the highest musical caliber. Through their performances, this choir will promote an awareness of and appreciation for the Christian faith, for choral music, both sacred and secular, and for Calvin College.

Continuing to use the musical gifts that the Lord has given them, the singers of the Calvin College Alumni Choir believe that:

"When in our music God is glorified,
And adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cried: Alleluia!"
F.P. Green

The history of the Calvin Alumni Choir includes three appearances at national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), three appearances at regional ACDA conventions, an appearance at the Michigan Choral Directors Convention, as well as tours to Denver, California, Chicago, Salt Lake City, the East Coast, five Asian countries, and the Netherlands. (Read about their upcoming visit to ACDA!) The choir has also had appearances on national television of the Netherlands, the Hour of Power, and in numerous community events with the Holland Chorale, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the American Boychoir, St. Cecelia Music Society, the North American Choral Company, Ken Medema, and Kenny Rogers Christmas. The choir also has recorded many CDs through the support of the Calvin Alumni Association and one cassette with the support of CRC Publications.

The choir has released numerous commercial recordings including “You Shall Have a Song,” a collection of the sacred choral works of prominent American composer Stephen Paulus. Active in the promotion of American choral music, the choir has commissioned and premiered new works by Moses Hogan, Stephen Paulus, Alberto Grau, Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory among others.

As part of its 30th anniversary season the choir participated in the American Choral Directors Convention in Miami, gave a performance for alumni and friends at Butterfly World in Florida and participated in a worship service at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

In addition to its four annual concerts, the Calvin College Alumni Choir leads worship services in area churches and performs for Calvin College and community functions. Guest directors have included such eminent composers and conductors as Sir David Willcocks, Semyon Bychkov, John Rutter, and Moses Hogan. Members of the choir are admitted by audition. The singers, representing a variety of professions, are alumni of Calvin College who come from all over West Michigan for a weekly rehearsal.


The choir was founded in 1977 by Helen Hoekema VanWyck. In 1981, Anton Armstrong, current conductor of the St. Olaf College Choir, became the Alumni Choir's fourth conductor. During Dr. Armstrong's tenure, the choir performed for the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Salt Lake City (1985). Charles K. Smith, Director of Choral Activities (emeritus) at Michigan State University, was the choir's fifth conductor.

The Calvin Alumni Choir has been under the direction of Dr. Pearl Shangkuan since 1998.  In March of 2007, the choir performed at the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) held in Miami. It has also performed at regional and state conventions of the ACDA, National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), and American Guild of Organists (AGO). Dr. Shangkuan led the choir on a tour to Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan in 2000 and the Netherlands in 2004.

The choir has collaborated with the Grand Rapids Symphony as the featured guest chorus on performances of the B Minor Mass and the Magnificat by Bach at the Grand Rapids Bach Festival in 2005 and 2007, as well as the Second Symphony (“Resurrection”) by Mahler.

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