Collage Vocal Ensemble is a mixed chamber choir of around 20 singers that performs compelling and challenging repertoire featuring a variety of musical genres from classical to spirituals to vocal jazz to 20th and 21st century compositions.
We perform two concerts each year. In those concerts, we have performed music from the 16th to the 21st centuries, in a multitude of languages, from classical art music, to world music, to barbershop and show tunes (even Russian ones!). Each concert program is tailored to the individual voices in the group, and designed to expose our audience to a mix of the familiar and the new. Some pieces are performed by the full ensemble; other pieces by just the women, just the men, quartets, etc. Pieces are chosen so that everyone in the group has an opportunity to participate in a small ensemble. While we have performed with a variety of instruments, the majority of our repertoire is a cappella.
Quality of performances is high. Singers must audition for openings in the ensemble. Singers are expected to utilize practice materials that are provided so that rehearsals can focus on musical interpretation and ensemble sound.
Rehearsals and concerts are held in the Mid-Peninsula cities of the San Francisco Bay Area.
We make music together for the sheer love of it, but we also believe in harnessing the power of the arts to improve the lives of the less fortunate in our community, and to encourage others to do the same. That is why we donate all net proceeds from our concert performances to local charities. Since our inaugural season, we have partnered with our performance venues to collect donations for InnVision Shelter Network and Music in the Schools. As we continue to build our organization and broaden our audience, we look forward to further expanding our philanthropic efforts.
Rafael Ornes has been the director of Collage Vocal Ensemble since the 2016/17 season. He is Minister of Music at Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley, California. He was also the founder of the Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL).
Once upon a time in Los Altos, CA, there lived a busy choir director/graduate student and mother of two who noticed that her living room, while a bit larger than her family generally needed, was just the right size for a small choir. She had also noticed that here on the Peninsula, there did not seem to be any small choirs that performed a wide range of repertoire - both challenging and fun. So, she invited some singer friends over one beautiful May afternoon in 2011 to sing together. They read through classical motets by Victoria, Rheinberger and Verdi, African-American spirituals by R. Nathaniel Dett, folk song settings, and a couple of vocal jazz arrangements. Over snacks and drinks afterwards, Amy Stuart Hunn formed Collage Vocal Ensemble.
She designed the group to be rewarding for experienced musicians, but also flexible enough to accommodate busy work and family lives. In its first five years, the group operated in two modes. In "mode 1," singers met every two weeks for a 90-minute sight-singing session. The music was chosen and provided by the director, but members were encouraged to make requests or bring music to share. These were casual, fun evenings; attendance was optional. Every fall and spring, the group transitioned to "mode 2," which is essentially a traditional model: the group met weekly (2.5-hour rehearsals) for 10 weeks, preparing a full concert program for performance.
Founding Artistic Director Amy Stuart Hunn directed the ensemble through its Spring concert in 2016. She moved out of state in June 2016. She holds a doctoral degree in Choral Music from the University of Southern California (academic work supported in part by The Patricia Hennings Memorial Fund). In addition, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Stanford University. She has served for a number of years as Director of the Stanford Summer Chorus Dr. Hunn also appeared as a guest conductor with the California Bach Society in March, 2012. Prior directorships include the USC Apollo Men’s Choir (2006-2007), the Stanford University Lutheran Church choir (2003-2005), and the Sunnyvale Singers (1998 to 2002). Dr. Hunn has studied conducting with Stephen M. Sano, William Dehning and Magen Solomon.