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Artist Spotlight: Composer, Conductor & Tenor, Saunder Choi

At “A Summer Symphony With FASO” this Saturday, August 3, at 7:00 p.m., we’ll have the treat of playing this artist’s take on “Leron, Leron Sinta.” Under the spotlight this week as we get ready for our debut at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall is composer, conductor and tenor Saunder Choi.

1. Wanting the best for their son, Saunder’s parents initially wanted him to take over the family business in food importation and distribution. But when Saunder won his first composition competition at the age of 18 and won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, they changed their minds! Since then, they’ve worked their hardest to support Saunder’s creative pursuits. Saunder says that he wouldn’t be where he is today without them!

2. Choral singing has always been a great love of Saunder’s. One of his earliest musical experiences was singing in choirs as a boy soprano. Saunder later became a section leader in his lolo’s alumni community chorus and assistant conductor of his school glee club. In college, he toured and competed internationally with the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Through these experiences, Saunder came to understand that music has the power to build community. According to Saunder, “Singing together not only brings people together. It creates a sense of community that brings people together.”

3. Saunder combines his training in Western classical music, more popular idioms like jazz and musical theater, and his own heritage by the way of world/folk music of the Philippines and China in his work. And while Saunder specializes in writing for the voice, he’s also arranged, orchestrated, and produced works for ensembles such as the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic! (He’s even arranged works for FASO!) To give you a taste of his musical style, here’s his take on the “Angry Birds” theme song.

4. A decorated composer, Saunder won the 2017 Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Carol Commission Competition and the student division of the 2014 American Prize for Choral Composition. He was a finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award in both 2012 and 2015. Saunder’s also tackled a diversity of projects – he’s orchestrated for Lea Salonga, he mentored high school students as a part of the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Voices Within Oratorio Project, he wrote this shimmering arrangement of “True Colors” that Cyndi Lauper herself shared on her Facebook page, (and he’s done so much more!)

5.  When he’s not making music, Saunder enjoys film photography, cooking shows and making food! He made Christina Tosi’s crack pie (of Milk Bar fame!) last Thanksgiving and we’ve got a pic of that.

Catch Saunder Choi’s arrangement of “Leron, Leron Sinta” at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, August 3, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for “A Summer Symphony with FASO” are available here and are priced at $20, $35, $50, and $60.

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