Mānoa alum, former professor at the head of the Choral Arts Society of Washington

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A university of Hawaii Mānoa graduate, former assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, will travel to the nation’s capital as the new artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington. Jace Kaholokula Saplan will advance the choral arts by reinventing the classics and ushering in a new generation of innovative programming with global influence, according to the organization. Saplan’s tenure begins September 1, 2022.

Jace Kaholokula Saplan

“I hope to bring a sense of artistic expansion and reimagining of what choral craft is and who it is for,” Saplan said. “The Choral Arts Society of Washington has been such a catalyst in modeling the best of what choral art looks and sounds like, and I look forward to continuing the work while diversifying our programming and ensuring that what we honor the multicultural fabric of my new city.”

Saplan is Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music Learning and Teaching and Choral Conducting at Arizona State University. Prior to that, Saplan served as Director of Choral Activities and the Hawaiian Music Program at uh Manoa. Saplan’s highlights at uh included the uh Chamber Singers’—the first choral ensemble in the uh System – first invitation to perform at the American Choral Directors Association Western Region Conference in March 2022.

Saplan is also the founder and artistic director of the Nā Wai Chamber Choir, an ensemble dedicated to the preservation and innovation of Hawaiian music. The organization mentors Native Hawaiian musicians, educators, and songwriters. Since its inception, the choir has offered workshops and community concerts throughout the state and has created resources for music teachers across the country who wish to teach Hawaiian music.

As a Kanaka Maoli leader, educator and artist, Saplan is committed to empowering communities through decolonial practices to maintain their agency and meaningfully engage with each other across their differences. cultures, and to ensure the survival of Indigenous stories.

people singing in a room
Saplan directs the uh Chamber Singers during a virtual concert in February 2021 titled “KELEMANIA: Germanic Influences, Hawaiian Soundworlds”.

Saplan earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music from uh Mānoa, Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at Concordia University-Portland, Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Oregon, and Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with Kindred in Education music and ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music. Saplan was also selected as part of the 2022 cohort of the Obama Foundation Leaders Asia-Pacific program.

“My training at uh as a student has really given me many skills to be ready for this moment. With an emphasis on holistic musical practices and individualized attention, my move to uh as an undergraduate student is an anchor for me. My time as a teacher has allowed me to pass on these skills to the next generation of artists and to ingrain a philosophy that combines classical music with relevant and culturally appropriate practices of the world. That’s what I’ll take with me into my next chapter,” Saplan said.

Learn more about the Choral Arts Society of Washington

Founded in 1965, Choral Arts has a rich history of bringing the power of the human voice to audiences large and small, advancing the history of choral music by partnering with a myriad of musicians, composers and ensembles.

“After extensive research conducted by the Board of Trustees in partnership with Arts Consulting Group, the Choral Arts Board and Search Committee are delighted to welcome Dr. Saplan to Choral Arts and look forward to all that ‘they will bring musically and culturally to the organization.” said Craig Miller, Chairman of the Choral Arts Board of Trustees. “As we envision the future of choral arts as a premier arts institution here in the nation’s capital, we are confident they will take us to new heights while fulfilling our mission to awaken the human capacity for wonder through the power of choral music.”

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