Henry Ford College Welcomes New Chorus Director

Photo of Henry Ford College Chorus Director Amy Saari

Amy Saari, a lifelong musician, is the new director of the Henry Ford College Chorus. She began studying music at a young age.

“I have been singing ever since I was really very young and mostly in church, and I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old. But that was kind of on and off for much of my young life. Not all of them panned out, but I will say that the first time I got on the podium was [when] I was a senior in high school and our choir teacher developed a practice of recruiting students to be assisted conductors. And I had the opportunity, as a senior, to conduct an arrangement of America the Beautiful for the entire choral program at my high school,” Saari said.

Saari went to Grinnell College in Iowa to study a general music major. Following this, she earned her master’s degree at Bowling Green State University, which brought her to the Great Lakes region. Looking for opportunities to get involved in the community, she became the director of the Sing Out Detroit Chorus, an LGBTQ and Ally Chorus.

“It was right after the pandemic and the lockdown conditions were easing up. But if anyone remembers, you know choral music in the pandemic. It all just stopped, and the whole choral world was really just devastated. But while we were all you know, going into, you know, Zoom and other, you know, virtual spaces to try to do our work. A lot of a lot of conductors and clinicians and such got together and said, ‘You know, while we're here, let's talk about social justice’. And so I started to, you know, get involved in like the Social Justice conversations around music, and I think the opportunity that I saw,” Saari said.

As Saari began to become more involved with social justice around music, she began thinking about what she wanted to give to the future, and when a spot opened up at Henry Ford College, she took her chance. After the interview with Anthony Lai, the director of bands, Saari felt that she would have the support needed at Henry Ford College, and accepted the job. She was able to experience this support when the chorus went last year to the Michigan Community College Choral Festival hosted by Grand Rapids Community College.

“We spent the day there rehearsing and performing, and everybody did a great job. And then, when we got on the bus, the bus had a breakdown, and so we had to wait in a grocery store parking lot for the bus company to send another bus, and we were there for a few hours. But you know I was very proud of them and how gracious everyone was, and how you know, patient with themselves and each other through all of that, you know, we were just riding high on amazing performances. It was a team bonding experience, you know, we developed closeness through a shared ordeal,” Saari explained.

Overall, Saari’s introduction to Henry Ford College has been warm and inviting through the choral community. The chorus finished off the year with their Spring Choral Program led by conductor Amy Saari as she guided them through the “Raise Your Voice” concerto on Sunday, April 21st, from 4-6 p.m.