April 04, 2011

Choir, wind ensemble to perform at Orchestra Hall

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- They’ve been to Carnegie Hall, they’ve been on tour in China. Chicago’s Orchestra Hall seemed the next logical step.

The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Concert Choir and the SIUC Wind Ensemble present a concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. on April 14 at Orchestra Hall as part of the University’s Inauguration Week activities.

“Advancing a Culture of Excellence” is the theme of Inauguration Week, set for April 11-17. The purpose is to shine the spotlight on the commitment and talents of students, faculty and staff, and to thank alumni and the University’s many friends and partners for their support. Many of the events, including the Undergraduate Research Forum, the Research Town Meeting and Fair, Agriculture Industry Days and Honors Day, take place annually during that week.

The general public and members of the University community are welcome to attend the April 15 formal installation of Rita Cheng as SIUC’s 22nd chancellor. The ceremony, which is free, is set for 2 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium on campus.

To see the complete schedule for Inauguration Week, visit http://news.siuc.edu/news/April11/040111tew11020.html .

Both ensembles represent the most select student musicians from SIUC’s School of Music. As touring ensembles, the groups paired up for a four-city tour in the People’s Republic of China in 2009. The SIUC Wind Ensemble debuted in Carnegie Hall in 2008. The concert choir performed by invitation at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference that same year. However, this is the first Chicago visit for either ensemble.

Susan Davenport, director of choral activities, and Christopher Morehouse, conductor for the wind ensemble and director of bands at SIUC, said they are delighted to perform on a stage that is home to so many exemplary musicians in a city that is famously kind to classical arts.

“The most famous names in the classical world conduct and perform at Orchestra Hall,” Morehouse said. “Chicago is very supportive of the classical music scene.”

“We feel it is a huge honor for the chancellor to include us in her Inauguration Week activities,” Davenport said, noting that SIUC alumni are flying in from all over the country to attend.

Morehouse first suggested the Orchestra Hall performance to School of Music colleagues a year ago.

The musical program features performances by the choir and the wind ensemble both separately and together. Highlights include an Illinois premiere of “A Brief Message from Makanda, Illinois,” composed by Frank Stemper, SIUC’s award-winning composer-in-residence, and a world premiere of “The River Merchant’s Wife,” composed by SIUC’s Kathleen Ginther. The Stemper piece commemorates the words and work of the late Paul Simon, former U.S. senator and one-time presidential candidate and beloved Makanda citizen. The Ginther composition reflects the poem by the same name, written by Chinese poet Li Po and translated by Ezra Pound.

Eric Mandat, professor of clarinet and a Distinguished Scholar, joins the ensembles. SIUC alumni Paul Petrucelly also adds clarinet, while mezzo-soprano Emily Fons, formerly of the Santa Fe Opera and now a new member of Chicago’s Lyric Opera, lends her voice to choral selections.

The ensembles will present abbreviated versions of their performances at Oswego High School and at Oswego East High School while they are in the Chicago area.

Ticket prices range from $25 to $35, with special pricing available through the SIU Alumni Association for alumni. Visit the alumni association webpage at www.siualumni.com for more information about alumni ticket opportunities. Information about the performance is at http://cso.org.

Free tickets are available to area high schools and student groups. To learn more about free tickets, contact Christopher Morehouse at cmoreh@siu.edu.