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PLU professor and conductor Tiffany Walker discusses her passion for choral music

PLU professor and conductor Tiffany Walker discusses her passion for choral music

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Tiffany Walker smiles while conducting the PLU orchestra and university singers. She is wearing a black long sleeve shirt and holding her hands -- one holding a conductors baton -- up in the air.

Image: Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Tiffany Walker (Photo by Sy Bean/PLU)

November 29, 2023
By Zach Powers ’10
PLU Marketing & Communications

Tiffany Walker fell in love with choral music in sixth grade and never looked back. An accomplished conductor and vocalist, Walker earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting at the University of Washington in spring 2022 and is in the second year of a two-year appointment as a visiting assistant professor at PLU. Walker conducts University Chorale and University Singers and teaches conducting. PLU News met with her recently to discuss her passion for choral music and her experience thus far at PLU.

When and why did you fall in love with choral music?

I was in the sixth grade when the elementary choir took a field trip to the high school. I don’t remember much about what happened that day, but I remember being in awe of the advanced high school choir when I heard them sing for us. I also remember enjoying singing our collaborative performance of Bill Withers’s “Lean on Me.” Someone encouraged me to sing out and sway with them. When it comes to singing choral music, I love the feeling that what I contribute as a singer feeds into a collective sound and that what I sing influences other members of the choir just as much as they influence me.

Why do you think choral music has stood the test of time and continues to be the choice art form for so many talented vocalists and composers?

There are many reasons why vocalists and composers will participate in the choral genre. Speaking for myself, I enjoy singing and feel great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment when singing in a choir. Singing is a full-body physical activity that is connected to emotions and mental well-being, and there’s even research on its correlation to affecting heart rate. I believe each chorus member fulfills a need when they sing in a choir, whether it be an expression of words and poetry, time to socialize with others, or engaging in something physical that requires focus. Choral music is an art form that allows for these needs to be met.

What have you found are a couple of the strengths of the PLU choral program?

The students and the faculty collectively are the strengths of the PLU choral program. I have found that PLU music has a tradition of holding high standards of excellence. Many of the vocalists are music majors who take lessons from a tremendously talented voice faculty. The choral program at PLU is strong because the educators and collaborative artists who are developing these voices are good at what they do. Also, the students who participate in the choirs have high motivation to be part of something excellent and are driven to learn and behave like professionals in the choral field.

What are a couple of highlights from your time at PLU thus far?

The PLU Christmas concert is a highlight of my time here. Last year, I was so impressed with the overall production of the event–the joint forces of the choirs and orchestra, the lights, the sound, and the hall decor. I have been in big musical productions before, and I know a lot of work goes into the preparation for these concerts. Still, experiencing a PLU Christmas concert for the first time was quite memorable. Last year’s performance at Benaroya Hall in Seattle was special for me because it was my first time conducting in a major symphony hall. Another highlight from my time at PLU so far would be how I’ve positively interacted with every faculty and staff member I’ve encountered on campus. Everyone in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance is wonderful, and I’ve also enjoyed meeting other faculty while having lunch at the University House.