MODfest 2022: Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble

Jan. 28, 2022, 8:00 p.m.

Skinner Hall of Music

Join this exciting professional ensemble in a presentation of solo and vocal choral music that celebrates artistic excellence and racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. Exploring themes of understanding, re-imagining, and coming together, the program includes Singet dem Herrn by J.S. Bach, And the Violin by Reena Esmail, And the Swallow by Caroline Shaw, and Nigra sum by Jonathan Woody.

This is a free but ticketed event; reservations for general seating are required and are available online at For additional information please email: or call (845) 437-5599. 

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NEW: Audience members will be required to provide one of the following before entering the theater: a Vassar College ID OR Proof of full vaccination AND Government Issued Photo ID. Please come prepared, no exceptions will be made at the doors.

Due to limited capacity, and the current health crisis, we ask you to consider the safety of all before attending one of our MODfest events. If you are feeling unwell or have been exposed in the past 10 days, please plan to stay home for these events and enjoy a livestream or recording, when available.

Guests and Visitors: Please check the Vassar Together website for updates on COVID restrictions that may impact this event.

Complete MODfest listings and details can be found here.

The Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble was featured in the movie Babylon: Ghetto, Renaissance, and Modern Oblivion

 “Interview with Jessica Gould, the director, Babylon: Ghetto, Renaissance, and Modern Oblivion.  Unnamed interviewer. Toronto Film Magazine, 2021. Accessed 11/29/21.

References from the movie:

Salamone Rossi

Biographical information: Grove Music Online (Vassar Community only)

Jewish Virtual Library  (All)

Streamed and physical recordings:  Salamone Rossi (Vassar Community only)

Brandon Waddles

Biographical Information GIA publications. (All)

The Career Musician (podcast interview)  (Youtube) (All)  

Brandon’s choral compositions and arrangements have been published and performed by choral ensembles around the world, including the Morehouse College and University of Michigan Glee Clubs, Oakwood Aeolians, Westminster Choir, Brigham Young University Singers and the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir. In 2019, he was awarded as the inaugural recipient of the ACDA Diverse Voices Collaborative Grant. In addition, he has worked as a transcriber of Black gospel music for numerous choral octavos, hymnals and hymnal supplements published by GIA, including his recent work as a contributing editor for the One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism hymnal. Brandon recently released Just In Case You’ve Forgotten, the first selected compendium of works by the late Thomas Whitfield, the subject of his dissertation. 

Brandon has worked with a diverse array of musicians including Dalton Baldwin, Martin Katz, Angela Brown, George Shirley, Donnie Ray Albert, Vinson Cole, Fred Hammond, Kathy Taylor, Anita Wilson and Chrystal Rucker. Recently serving as Music Director for Grammy-nominated recording artist Ledisi, he has collaborated with the celebrated singer on multiple occasions, including her Nina & Me concert series and LEDISI: THE LEGEND OF LITTLE GIRL BLUE show-run at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Dr. Waddles holds professional memberships with the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. March 22, 2021

Quarter Notes (Interview)  (Youtube) (All)  Interview with Dr. Brandon Waddles - Director of Choral Activities at Wayne State University (Detroit).  October 23, 2020

Quarter Notes with the DCC - A series of five-minute vocal lessons provided for free by the Detroit Children's Choir.

Eric Taylor - Artistic Director of the Detroit Children's Choir

Brandon Waddles - Wait til I git on my robe

The recording is from the premiere concert of "Wait til' I git on my robe" by Brandon Waddles, in Storkyrkan (Stockholm Cathedral) in February 25, 2016.  "Wait til' I git on my robe" was commissioned by St. Jacobs Chamber Choir in December 2015 as a surprise for Gary Graden - for his birthday.  Sound engineer: Mats Helgesson

St. Jacobs Chamber Choir pays an annual fee to SAMI (Swedish Artists' and Musicians' Interest Organization) for the right to present our concert recordings on the internet.

“If my people” by Brandon Waddles as performed by CANTUS  (YouTube) (All)

This performance of "If My People" by Dr. Brandon Waddles was recorded LIVE at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in winter 2020. 

They Led My Lord Away arr. Brandon Waddles  unnamed choir directed by Dr Waddles.  (YouTube) (All)

Streamed and physical recordings:  Music arranged by Brandon Waddles (Vassar Community only)

Fisk Jubilee Singers

Biographical information:  Grove Music Online.  (Vassar Community only)

Jubilee Singers today (All) About the Music  (All)  History of the Jubilee Singers (All)

“Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory”  PBS FILM description.  (All)

Streamed and physical recordings: Fisk Jubilee singers (Vassar Community only)

Ma Rainey

Biographical information: Grove Music Online (Vassar Community only)

Streamed and physical recordings: Ma Rainey (Vassar Community only)

Bessie Smith  

Biographical information: Grove Music Online (Vassar Community only)

Streamed and physical recordings: Bessie Smith  (Vassar Community only)

Cotton club

Historical information: Grove Music Online (Vassar Community only)

Streamed and physical recordings: Cotton Club

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Biographical information:  Grove Music Online (Vassar Community only)

Streamed and physical recordings: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Vassar Community only)

Big Mama Thornton

Biographical information: Grove Music Online (Vassar Community only)

Streamed and physical recordings: Big Mama Thornton (Vassar Community only)

Elvis Presley  

Biographical information: Grove Music Online (Vassar Community only)

Streamed and physical recordings: Elvis Presley (Vassar Community only)

Compiled by Sarah Canino


Represented on the Friday, January 28 - 8:00 p.m. performance

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach


Composer of Singet dem Herrn

Audio examples performed by Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner, cond.

Painter: Elias Gottwald Haussmann, Maler  

Photo Image: Photographer: Klaus Göken

Repository:  Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Reena Esmail

Reena Esmail  

Biography  (All)

Composer of “When the Violin”  

YouTube (All)

Photo source: Accessed 12/6/21.


Caroline Shaw

Caroline Shaw

Biography (All)

Composer of “And the Swallow” YouTube  (All)

Photo source: Accessed 12/6/2


Jonathan Woody

Jonathan Woody

Biography (All) 

Composer of “Nigra Sum Sed Formosa: A Fantasia on Microaggressions”YouTube  (All)

Photo source: Accessed 12/22/21.

Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble
Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble