Chamber Singers tour starts today

The nationally-recognized University of South Dakota Chamber Singers will begin a weeklong tour of Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota on Friday, March 2, with a 7:30 p.m. performance at Augustana Lutheran Church, 600 Court St. in Sioux City, Iowa. The concert is part of an annual spring tour by the Chamber Singers and their conductor, David Holdhusen, Ph.D.

"Our students will have an opportunity to perform in multiple venues with different acoustics," described Holdhusen, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at USD. "Because we are on the road for the entire week, the students have the opportunity to work like professional performers. I think that is and important experience for our young musicians, and something they will really enjoy."

This year's musical program, "Make a Joyful Noise" includes classical and contemporary musical selections. Some of the songs featured in the program span a historical spectrum, from the early music of Josquin's "Ave Maria" to Mendelssohn's "Heilig" of the Romantic Period to more contemporary works like William Albright's "Chichester Mass."

Also featured are spiritual and cultural music from around the world, including a Hebrew folksong and selections from India, Russia and Africa.

According to Holdhusen, the idea behind this year's program is that regardless of language, country, race or religion, people are very much the same.

"They have the same feelings and emotions, experience similar events and celebrate through song," he added. "It is music that ties us together. It really is the universal language."

This is the first tour for the Chamber Singers since being recognized as one of five national finalists for the American Prize in Choral Performance.

Holdhusen said of the honor, "While we did not win the competition, to be recognized as one of the finest collegiate choirs in the country is truly exciting. It is a testament to quality musicians at USD and the dedication and artistry these singers exhibit in preparation for performance."

In addition to performing in Sioux City, the choir will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., for a 7:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, March 3 at the First Christian Church, which is located at 16 East Platte Avenue. The following morning, the ensemble will provide service music at the Protestant Cadet Chapel for the Traditional/Liturgical Worship service at the United States Air Force Academy – a performance the group is honored to present.

The Chamber Singers continue with another performance that day, a 4 p.m. concert at St. Paul's Lutheran Church (1600 Grant Street) in Denver, CO, on Sunday, March 4. On Monday, March 5, the Chamber Singers travel to Gillette, WY, for a 7 p.m. concert at First Presbyterian Church (511 Carey Avenue) before returning to South Dakota for a performance in Rapid City at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church located at 1012 Soo San Drive.

While in the Rapid City area, the choir will also present concerts at six area high schools and the State Capitol Rotunda in Pierre before returning to eastern South Dakota for its final performances: Thursday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m., at First Methodist Church in Huron (2660 Dakota Avenue South) and Friday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the 1st Congregational Church, located at 300 S. Minnesota Ave., in Sioux Falls. Admission is free to all of the Chamber Singers' performances; however, a freewill offering will be collected at each venue.

"One of the most difficult tasks for a tour like this is choosing a repertoire," explained Holdhusen, who noted that copies of the Singers' CD, "Nature's Witness," will be on sale at all tour locations. "The program starts to come together with the selection of a few key pieces. Once those are in place, a theme was developed and additional music was chosen to fill out the program. It's my goal to create a dramatic and emotional journey that speaks to the audience throughout the concert."

The Chamber Singers, the premiere vocal ensemble at USD with 32 members, features graduate and undergraduate students selected through auditions from the entire university student body. Its repertoire, which is primarily a cappella, includes music from the Renaissance to the present in a wide variety of styles. They have performed for state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference and have appeared on the public radio program "Going Beyond Words." In 2011, the ensemble was selected as one of five finalists for the American Prize in Choral Performance (College and University Division).

For more information about University Music Ensembles, visit www.usd.edu/cfa/Music/ensembles.cfm.

For information about the Chamber Singers' 2012 Spring Tour, contact Holdhusen at (605) 677-5721 or e-mail David.Holdhusen@usd.edu.

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