Marymount University Chamber Singers make memorable comeback following pandemic hiatus

Marymount University Chamber Singers make memorable comeback following pandemic hiatus


Student Members of the Marymount University Chamber Singers
Emelia Cardon
Laine Eary
Utoma Effiong
Kezia Francis
Nayef Imdad
Sofia Jubraj
Gavin Keane
Chiara Marrello
Lily Plotkin
Adriana Rodriguez-Denner
Lillian Trussell
Marisol Zuniga-Castaneda

Amidst a jubilant return after a hiatus forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marymount University Chamber Singers – led by the newly appointed Liturgical Music and Spiritual Life Events Coordinator, Dr. Kimberly Hess – are striking a chord both on and off campus.

The choir group, initially founded in Spring 2011, has a rich history of promoting Marymount’s Catholic identity through sacred liturgical music and cultivating communal bonds. Following a hiatus that began in 2020, this year the Chamber Singers have renewed once more – affectionately calling themselves ‘the pioneers’ – with 12 undergraduate student members.

“Leading the Marymount University Chamber Singers as a full-time employee is a dream come true,” explained Dr. Hess, who has taught music classes at Marymount as an adjunct professor since 2010. “Its creation was inspired by the love of music and the need for musical ensembles on campus. Music is a way for students to bond and create lasting friendships, fostering a sense of community. In return, this will help retention for the University.”

In 2011, the choir formed as a Student Government Association (SGA) club with students from Dr. Hess’s Fundamentals of Music class. The group took inspiration from the term “chamber singers,” traditionally defined as a small to medium-sized choir specializing in classical or religious music. While educating students in the genres of music spanning various historical periods, the group also performed at venues such as the University of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

Since reuniting, the Chamber Singers have once again taken on prominent opportunities to showcase their craft. Notable recent performances include leading the National Anthem at the National Archives Declaration of Independence Reading Ceremony in July 2023, and singing for His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory – the Archbishop of Washington – during the Archdiocesan Jubilee Mass for Consecrated Men and Women earlier this month. The group received the latter opportunity when Dr. Hess, who typically plays the organ for Archdiocese staff retreats and special masses, asked for the Chamber Singers to accompany her.

“The Archdiocese was happy to have us lead the music. The Cardinal was the celebrant, and he took time out of his very busy schedule that day to have his picture taken with us,” Dr. Hess said. “The students were excited to sing for him, meet him and have their picture taken with him and he was very gracious to speak with us for those few minutes. We presented him with a framed picture and a letter with an invitation from President Becerra and University Chaplain Fr. Gabriel Muteru to have lunch on campus in the future.”

“Singing for the Cardinal was a soul-stirring experience, a testament to the transformative power of music,” added Kezia Francis, SGA President of the Marymount University Chamber Singers. “We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to share our voices and spread the boundless joy of music to all who listen.”

The Chamber Singers were also featured in Marymount President Irma Becerra’s 2023 holiday video, singing ‘Ring Christmas Bells’, and sang at Marymount’s Founders Day Mass on February 26. Future performances include a Taizé Prayer Service at 7 pm on March 19 in the Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel on Marymount’s campus. The group sings weekly for 7 pm Mass on Sunday evenings and for University events, such as the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Faculty Convocation. They plan to perform one concert per semester beginning in Fall 2024.

Currently, Dr. Hess is working with Dr. Eric Norton, Director of Marymount’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies, to offer academic credit for participating students in the Marymount University Chamber Singers. Additionally, plans are underway to develop a Pep Band with hopes of offering academic credit. Both courses are anticipated to begin in Fall 2024.

Marymount University Chamber Singers make memorable comeback following pandemic hiatusThe Marymount University Chamber Singers welcome participants of all experience levels and voice parts, emphasizing the only requirement is the ability to match pitch. Vocal technique learning is incorporated during rehearsals on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-6 pm in 2001 Gailhac Hall. To learn more about joining, contact Dr. Hess at for more information.