University Choir and Ensembles
The Winston-Salem State University Choir is one of the oldest student organizations on the campus of Winston-Salem State University. There is evidence to prove that the institution of the Choir predates the Department of Music, of which it is now a part. The University Choir is now under the leadership and baton of Maestra D'Walla Simmons-Burke. This University Choir has performed commissioned works, such as On Imagination and I Too (Undine Smith Moore); Recent Reflections on Deep River (Michael Williams); Come Sunday (arr. S. Van Dixon); Holdin’ On and Oh, What a Beautiful City (arr. Stacey Gibbs), to name a few. Under the leadership of Maestra Simmons-Burke, The Winston-Salem State University Choir has traveled both nationally and internationally (i.e. Bahamas; Czech Republic; West Africa and South Africa) recording and performing with major symphony orchestras such as the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra; Gateways Festival Orchestra; D'Vorak Symphony Orchestra; Colour of Music Symphony Orchestra and the New England Symphony Orchestra, when major works are programmed (Handel’s Messiah; Mozart’s Requiem; Fauré’s Requiem; Berlioz’s Requiem; Hadyn’s Creation; and Rossini’s Stabat Mater).
Currently, The Winston-Salem State University Choir has recorded 8 compact disks under Maestra Simmons-Burke’s leadership (i.e. In Silent Night; I Wanna Be Ready; Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing; Hold Fast To Dreams; Somewhere Far Away; The Legacy Continues:20th Anniversary Celebration of D'Walla Simmons-Burke; Joy to the World and My God is a Rock) with one of them (Somewhere Far Away recorded in Prague, Czech Republic) published by a major recording label (Albany Records) and nominated for a Grammy Award in 5 categories.
The Choir has performed for several major music conferences and on national stages such as Carnegie Hall (NY), Lincoln Center (NY) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, DC). The Winston-Salem State University Choir was one of the university choirs from North Carolina’s sixteen (16) state institutions invited to perform during the festivities of the inauguration of former Governor James B. Hunt. This Grammy-nominated choir is well sought after for its moving renditions of major choral works, spirituals, and world music.
The Winston-Salem State University Burke Singers are a female a cappella vocal ensemble founded on the campus of Winston-Salem State University, March, 1995 by D'Walla Simmons Burke, Director of Choirs and Vocal Studies. D'Walla saw a need to add variety, emotion and a sense of political awareness to the choral program and to the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The songs performed by the Burke Singers display a variety of African-American sacred music, African and American civil rights support songs, and world political awareness songs. Most of the music rendered by the Burke Singers are those sung by SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK and written/arranged by Bernice Johnson Reagan, founder of this world renowned vocal ensemble.
In its brief existence, many community and university groups such as arts council board meetings, book clubs, church services, civic organizational banquets, public schools, and inaugural ceremonies of universities have solicited the Burke Singers to perform and “tell the story.” The Burke Singers were invited in March, 1997 as one of the featured guests, to perform at the National Black Music Caucus’ 25th Anniversary Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme of the conference was "A Celebration of African-American Music." Kweisi Mfume (NAACP) has identified this ensemble as "a spiritually uplifting story-teller and a powerful African-American female ensemble of unique harmonies." The members of this ensemble bring with them such diverse backgrounds as elementary education, early childhood education, biology, music business, mass media communications, nursing and accounting. Susan Taylor (Essence Magazine Editor) has described them as “strong women with a strong message." The Burke Singers are more than just a vocal ensemble. Our songs, sounds and lyrics give the listener a different way to hear the songs of old, a new way.
Schola Cantorum is a male ensemble which gives special attention to the performance of African American composers and standard male glee club literature.
This ensemble began as a request of the male students within Schola Cantorum. Their humble beginnings have led them to perform for formal university convocations and spring tours within the United States.
Schola Cantorum embraces a rich choral music tradition of its university. The members seek to provide dedication, commitment and leadership through the performance of music. Since its origins (2004), it has had one director, D’ Walla Simmons Burke, Director of Choral and Vocal Studies.
It is the mission of Schola Cantorum to provide a standard of excellence and distinction through singing and modeling the ultimate Winston-Salem State University MAN.
The Singing Divas are a female vocal ensemble which gives special attention to the performance of African American composers and standard female glee club.
This ensemble began in 2006 at the request of the female students within The Singing Divas. The ladies are looking forward to performing for the university and community functions. They will perform during the spring tours within the United States.
The Singing Divas are under the leadership of D' Walla Simmons Burke, Director of Choral and Vocal Studies.
It is the mission of The Singing Divas to provide a standard of excellence and distinction through singing and modeling the ultimate Winston-Salem State University WOMAN.