March 17, 2009

Choir, Wind Ensemble offer China Preview Concert

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Flutes speak flute and clarinets speak clarinet, and when they make music, the language is universal.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale students in the School of Music’s Concert Choir and the Wind Ensemble head to China in May as part of a concert tour and cultural exchange. Before they go, they preview the concert here at home.

The China Preview Concert is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, in Shryock Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students. Buy tickets in advance at the SIU Arena or the Student Center ticket office, or buy tickets beginning one hour before the performance at the Shryock Box Office.

“The next step for us as a School of Music was international travel,” Susan Davenport, director of Choral Activities and the assistant director of the School of Music, said. “We knew that was something that would have to happen for us here.”

Davenport, who directs the concert choir, said she and other faculty members researched organizations that connect collegiate musicians with international exchanges. The end result was an invitation from the InterCulture Association to participate in the concert tour and cultural exchange with the People’s Republic of China.

This tour, Davenport said, follows performances by both the concert choir and the wind ensemble at regional and national performances at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference, Central Kentucky Arts Series and the debut last year of the Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall.

The students will perform three concerts in China and will visit such sites as the Great Wall, Olympic Village and venues, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City as well as other historical sites, museums and gardens.

The concert will include some pieces just for the wind ensemble and some just for the concert choir as well as several for both together. School of Music composer and lecturer Kathleen Ginther will also accompany the musicians, and is providing them with an original work.

“We have to be careful, as we select our program, to avoid choral texts that may be political or religious,” Davenport said, noting that even in a musical cultural exchange, some topics are sensitive.

Christopher Morehouse, wind ensemble conductor, noted he had to select works that would fit the available instruments. Since it is too costly to bring the larger instruments along, he had to select a musical program using the more portable instruments and those he would be able to borrow in China.

“Just the whole idea of this trip is amazing,” Davenport said. “When I was their age, I never would have dreamed of a concert tour and cultural exchange with China.”