SAN LUIS OBISPO — Singers across the county have been missing the camaraderie that comes with rehearsing and performing together, so they have come together to create one collaborative choral experience amidst a digital landscape. 

Virtual tickets are now available for SLO United: A Collaborative Choir Concert at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. 

SLO United is the brainchild of Scott Glysson, Director of Choral Activities and Vocal Studies at Cal Poly, and John Knutson, the Director of Choral and Vocal Jazz Program at Cuesta College. They reached out to choral groups all over San Luis Obispo County, and 18 groups signed up to participate. All groups were required to comply with county regulations regarding recording performance pieces; schools with educational waivers followed stringent protocols to rehearse and record ensembles in person.  

“There’s a reason people choose to be in a choir,” said Knutson. “You could sing alone anywhere, but with a choir, the community is built-in. It’s even more important these days to get and keep people connected. This concert is for both our singers and our community. It’s not the same choral experience you’re used to, but this celebrates that we’re still here.”  

In addition to the choirs submitting their pieces, the concert features one piece that includes all 250 singers. “I Dream a World,” composed by David Brunner with lyrics from the famous Langston Hughes poem, significantly speaks to our times while providing students with an educational insight into the Harlem Renaissance. Against the backdrop of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, the group wanted to choose a song that acknowledged the country’s social justice issues and was accessible to a wide range of singers. 

“The SLO United concert is a statement of perseverance,” Glysson said. “There’s a symbiotic relationship between performers and the audience, so it’s a bit awkward and a big effort to turn this kind of art into a virtual performance, but it will be completely worth it.”  

By the end of this process, Dave Becker will have dedicated close to 100 hours compiling and editing this cumulative effort. Becker, who has edited multiple virtual concerts during the last seven months, teaches Recording Arts, Music Appreciation Recording Arts, Saxophone and Clarinet at Cuesta College, and applied jazz saxophone at Cal Poly.

The concert is free because the organizers want access to the arts for everyone. Donations collected from this concert will first go toward production costs. The rest will be sent to the SLO County Office of Education to share the gift of music with the young and inspiring performing arts students in the local community. Especially during this difficult time, the producers especially appreciate when community members choose to give.  

For free ticket registration: bit.ly/SLOunited.

For a suggested donation of $5: tickets.cuesta.edu.

To donate separately: bit.ly/donate2SLOunited. 

SLO United includes performances by:  

Cal Poly PolyPhonics  

Cal Poly Women’s Chorus  

Cal Poly Chamber Choir  

Cal Poly University Singers 

Cuesta Voce 

Cuesta Chamber Singers  

Cuesta Concord Chorus  

Templeton High School Mixed Choir  

Canzona Women’s Ensemble  

Los Osos Middle School Stage Choir  

Morro Bay High School Concert Choir  

San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble  

Central Coast Youth Chorus  

San Luis Obispo High School  

Laguna Middle School  

Atascadero Middle School Concert Choir 

Atascadero High School Choirs  

Atascadero Fine Arts Academy Choir

Getting through this together, Paso Robles