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The Catawba Singers Garner a Personal Invitation from Composer Eric Whitacre to Perform "Paradise Lost" in Chicago

November 15, 2010

Category: Academics, Events, Music, Students


ChoirDistinguished Concerts International in New York City (DCINY) has announced that the Catawba Singers under the direction of Professor Paul E. Oakley have been personally invited by the internationally celebrated composer, Eric Whitacre, to participate in a performance of Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings. The performance is scheduled on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 in Chicago's historic Auditorium Theatre, right in the heart of Chicago, and will be the prelude event to the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association.

Participation in a National Convention of ACDA is the highest honor an American choir can receive, according to Oakley, and the 4,000-seat theatre where the performance is scheduled is said to have some of the finest acoustics in the United States.

Dr. Jonathan Griffith, Artistic Director for DCINY explained, "The Catawba Singers received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers and the exceptional recommendation given to Professor Oakley by his choral colleagues. It is quite an honor to be invited to perform at this event in Chicago."

Eric Whitacre is perhaps the first choral composer/conductor in recent centuries to receive "rock star" status internationally. In a personal note to Professor Oakley, Whitacre wrote: "The reason I am writing specifically to you is because you were identified as one of the top choirs in the United States by the American Choral Directors Association."

Whitacre goes on to say in his note, "Paradise Lost is a musical influenced by Japanese manga, anime, opera and martial arts. The text follows on from Milton's Paradise Lost and charts a tribe of angels marooned in post-apocalyptic paradise. The heart of the show is in the characters, especially the chorus; it will be absolutely stunning to see a chorus of angers — that's you! — on stage with me. It will bring a sense of grandeur to this epic story, and help us to recreate the majesty and magnitude of a tale about angels battling for paradise."

Friends of Catawba MusicThe Catawba Singers will include this historic performance as the central stop of their annual tour. While in Chicago, the students will spend approximately 9-10 hours in rehearsal over a three-day residency with Eric Whitacre, culminating in the final performance on Tuesday, March 8, 2011. Several thousand choral conductors and music educators from all over the world will be in attendance.

Oakley said of the invitation, "I was forced by some of our students to send an audition CD to the ACDA program committee. All selections are done by blind CD audition. To have been selected shows the high quality of our students and speaks to their work ethic. I am very proud of them, and feel honored to work with them."                          


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