USD Chamber Singers kick off spring tour

The University of South Dakotas Chamber Singers are getting ready for spring break. But instead of going to a destination with a sunny island climate, theyll be sticking to the Midwest, and also will head to Canada.

The University of South Dakotas Chamber Singers are set for their annual spring tour, which will lead them through South Dakota, North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada. The tour will begin with a performance at Yanktons United Church of Christ at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 5.

(Courtesy photo)

Thats because the Chamber Singers will be taking their annual week-long spring tour of public venues and high schools, which will see them perform in South Dakota, North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada.

Every year we basically do eight evening concerts and however many in the schools that we can get scheduled, said the groups conductor, David Holdhusen, Ph.D.

The tour kicks off with a 1 p.m. performance at Yanktons United Church of Christ on Saturday, March 5.

At 7 p.m. that night, the group will perform at the Salem Zion Mennonite church in Freeman.

They will have further performances on March 6 in Aberdeen, on March 7 in Fargo, ND, and will then travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 8.

Theres the educational/social side of things, where well get to experience the foreign land in Canada, Holdhusen said. All the students always do home stays at every place, so they can kind of get into the cultures of the individual family wherever we are.

The tour will return to South Dakota for performances in Brandon on March 9 and Sioux Falls on March 10.

The final performance of the tour will be held at Vermillions United Church of Christ at 7:30 p.m. March 19. Child care will be provided during the performance.

That really is the culmination of the tour for us, Holdhusen said. While all the other concerts are important and everybody enjoys those, its when we get back to USD and perform for our base here thats the most important.

The USD Chamber Singers consists of 30 members, ranging from freshmen to graduate students, who perform an a cappella historical program.

The idea of this group is to sing everything from the early Renaissance music to the most modern pieces, so if you look at our program we have early Renaissance, we have Victoria, we have Bach. We have Romantic, we have all the time periods even up to the most recent things, Holdhusen explained. We really do span the entire spectrum of music.

In the past, Holdhusen has found several pieces for the singers to perform, which he then builds into thematic presentation. This year, he had a theme first.

The theme for this year is A Slaves Journey, so Im trying to tell the story of the African slave that comes through the United States from their time being brought here and given the ideas of the plantation owners, into their sorrow and despair, and into the escape and the freedom that they seek, he said.

The program features works ranging from J.S. Bachs sixth motet, Lobet den Herrn to Verses Left to Write by Timothy Tharaldson, as well as a piece written for the Chamber Singers by Peter Durow entitled The Slave Song at Midnight. United States folk songs and spirituals will be featured, as well.

Holdhusen said the students benefit from this type of professional tour experience, where they have to give the same program day after day after day, and maintain the ability to take that and be performance-ready each night for a new audience, (as well as) to adjust to the different acoustical environments of the venues that were in.

The Chamber Singers officers said theyre ready to go.

The tour itself is just a really incredible experience, said student conductor Scott Arens. I suppose my favorite part is singing in the high schools and getting to interact with the high school students.

Im really excited for Winnipeg because Ive never been to Canada, added Chamber Singers president Laura Kuschel. Im excited to show off some South Dakota talent up there.

Sara Otteman, vice president of the Chamber Singers, said that despite not being a music major, she has been involved with the group for the past five years.

For me, being given the opportunity to perform with the elite ensemble here at USD is quite the privilege, she said. Ive been here every year, and every year has just gotten better.

For more information about the USD Chamber Singers or the tour, contact Holdhusen at (605) 677-5721 or e-mail him at

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