— The San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble, going by the name “California Vocal Arts Ensemble” when touring abroad, was awarded second place for the “Adult Mixed Choir” category for Men & Women choir at the 2015 Florence International Choral Competition on July 24, 2015. The group went on to take the second place award for the “Folk Music” category as well.
Gary Lamprecht, founder and musical director, said, “There was a field of 13 choirs from 13 different countries in the multi-tiered competition. This has been a great experience for the choir members, on our 11th tour outside of the USA. I’m very proud of all of our singers and so should our supporters in California!”
The two-week tour began in France on July 14, with a appearance at the Aveyron Choral Festival near Toulouse, followed by a competition at the Provence Festival, then onto Italy for the Florence Festival.
Along the way, the 43 singers and 10 special guests traveling with the group toured museums, churches and historic sites and even witnessed a surprise marriage proposal between two of the group’s singers, Andy French and Jessica Guilder. Most of the group traveled back to San Luis Obispo County yesterday while some stayed in Europe to continue individual travel, after the group tour, planned by Gulliver’s Travels of San Luis Obispo, concluded.
For the last 39 years, the Vocal Arts Ensemble has been regarded as a community treasure of California’s Central Coast, regularly entertaining audiences with a variety of concerts in and around San Luis Obispo County. The group has also become highly regarded beyond our shores, winning friends, acclaim, and awards in international choral festivals. Tours have included the British Isles, Russia, Poland, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Uruguay, Sweden, Norway, Canada, France and Italy.
Over the years, numerous singers with Vocal Arts have also been successful professional performers. Others are dedicated amateurs who may be seen performing a variety of noteworthy “day jobs” in the community. A mainstay of the ensemble is its primary accompanist, Barbara Hoff, who was formerly the principal keyboardist with the SLO Symphony. The group’s founder, Gary Lamprecht, recently was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award from the American Choral Director’s Association.