Dare to Dream—Sue Fink and the Angel City Chorale

L.A.’s only community-based choir sings an eclectic mix Sue Fink by Bill Greenblatt

Native Angeleno and UCLA grad Sue Fink composes, arranges and teaches music, but her greatest joy is the Angel City Chorale. The choir she founded in 1993 with just 18 voice students in the back of McCabe’s Guitar Shop has grown to more than 160 diverse singers. Many of Angel City’s performances are in a church—for their upcoming spring concerts, Elements, they’ll be at the historic Wilshire United Methodist Church—but their eclectic repertoire includes classical, gospel, jazz, pop and world music. This year they’re premiering a new work by Grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin, The Drop that Contained the Sea, based on ancient texts about water. The group also donates its talents to community organizations, such as the Ocean Park Community Center and LA Regional Food Bank, via recordings and live performances. Angel City is dedicated to “building community one song at a time.”

I love L.A. because. . . it’s a wondrous combo of the hustle and bustle of big city life mixed with the casualness of beach-city living. Our diversity is a window to the larger world around us. Yesterday, in two phone calls, I found an Indian tabla player and Tibetan singing bowls.

I live in Mar Vista and what is special about my neighborhood is. . . its unpretentious, friendly flair, not to mention that we can smell the ocean from here.

I first became interested in music when… I came out of the womb, but I started my dream of conducting sitting in front of my parents’ hi-fi at age 11, holding a stick and pretending to conduct Carmina Burana.

My favorite composer/musician/singer is… Christopher Tin. His world-vision fusion music is rhythmic, ethnic and rich. His choral writing is as fun to sing as to listen to. His orchestrations are cinematic and his themes bring out what connects us all.

My favorite song is… whatever I am humming at the moment.

When I’m looking for inspiration I… listen to the voices singing and shaping sounds around me as I conduct.

Alert ** Tranformational Power of Music

I founded Angel City Chorale because I wanted to… create a small-town-feeling community within our big city life that would give folks a place to feel like they belonged, and at the same time, a place to create music together.

What gives me the most satisfaction in my work is… when people’s lives are enriched by the joy of singing or hearing our music.

The best thing someone else can say about my work is… that they were inspired by me to be creative and expressive, and that they feel happier and more complete because of it.

The worst thing someone can say is that my work is… boring.

Something that’s surprising to me about my life now is… I am surrounded by music and friends and opportunities I never saw coming. I’m so blessed to have my wonderful family and my extended family in Angel City Chorale.

My greatest concern about the world we live in is… We live in scarcity mentality—”I have to take care of number one.” There is enough to go around as long as there are those willing to share. When we cut art and creativity out of our world in our quest to survive, we lose what is beautiful about humanity.

The way I think I can have the greatest positive impact is… to be a cheerleader for people to risk and experience life and art to the fullest.

The most important thing I’ve learned about life is… Dare to dream. Take a risk and go for it. But at the same time, I’ve discovered the best experiences are created together in community.

Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Boulevard, 6/7 & 8, 2014, 7pm. www.angelcitychorale.org. Photo © William R. Greenblatt

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