Ambrose Professor Dr. Mark Bartel Appointed as New Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Chorusmaster

Ambrose Professor Dr. Mark Bartel Appointed as New Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Chorusmaster

Ambrose University is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Mark Bartel, Associate Professor of Music as the new Chorusmaster for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO). Dr. Bartel will lead the CPO’s choristers through the 2021/2022 season as they prepare to resume in-person performances. 

Dr. Bartel joined the faculty at Ambrose University in August of 2019, and has a very diverse musical background prior to his appointment at the university. Known for successfully building a variety of choirs and choral programs, his numerous accolades and lengthy experience have made him highly sought after in the wider choral community as a guest conductor, clinician, speaker and adjudicator. 

As Dr. Bartel looks with anticipation to the new experiences of his Chorusmaster appointment, he kindly shares his thoughts on the role and his passion for music as a whole:

“I have been jokingly accused of seeing everyone I meet as a potential choir member. But this joke is not far from the truth. My dream is for everyone to sing, and I am dedicated to those who sing at Ambrose University—which is actually all of us! This includes in Ambrose choirs, from your seat in Chapel services, in voice lessons, or in worship bands.   

Whether at Ambrose or in the community I am passionate about both the vitalness and vitality of singing, because singing is the most natural musical expression we share. When I look at the myriad ways of singing, across cultures, styles, and history, I think I am on pretty solid ground.   And music, as one of the forms of artistic expression, gives voice to our humanity. It is a creative response, and ascription of worth, to our Creator.      

While everyone can enjoy singing in some way, the true magic of singing is that it can also be very demanding, and therefore engaging, whether as a pastime, in corporate worship, in community settings, or as a profession. And in group singing it seems that when voices and hearts join together the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps nowhere is this more in evidence than in choral-orchestral concerts where one voice, joined with many in a large chorus together with a symphony orchestra contributes to some of the most beloved, profound and moving musical performances. There are very few similar opportunities where one individual with some training and a lot of dedication can literally play a vital part in something as monumental as a performance of Handel’s Messiah or Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.   

Such projects require a “Chorusmaster,” a traditional term referring to directors of large choirs that perform substantial composite works with other groups or soloists on the operatic or symphonic stage. At the heart, like a director of any organization, the chorusmaster sets goals, teaches and facilitates, and collaborates with the conductor, often called the Maestro, of the orchestra—who is typically the conductor of the performance itself. Like any leader, the chorusmaster is nothing without the choristers, and the Maestro is nothing without the entire cast of performers. In turn, the performers are nothing without an appreciative, listening audience. All of this points to the bottom line in music performance, and that is the necessity and benefits of collaboration.  

Leading the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus enriches my work as a conductor as well as the instruction, insights, and opportunities I can provide to Ambrose University students. Like all Ambrose professors my work includes teaching, service and scholarship. For professors in the performing arts, part of scholarship is performance, and for me that means conducting choirs. 

Working with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra also provides a way for me to be a part of the university’s mission of engagement in our city. This kind of engagement is a two-way street, which can benefit our music students through observing CPO rehearsals, masterclasses with CPO musicians, or networking in the wider arts community. I am excited to have another opportunity to represent Ambrose and encourage folks to engage with us, whether as prospective students, or simply to take advantage of the range of opportunities Ambrose provides. And of course, in the spirit of getting everyone singing, I hope to see Ambrose alumni and community members in the ranks of the chorus as well!”

Ambrose University is honoured to have such dedicated and talented faculty instructing our students. We look forward to witnessing the success of Dr. Bartel in his role as Chorusmaster alongside his professorship at Ambrose.

To read the full statement from the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra on Dr. Bartel’s appointment, click here.

Faculty