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Choral Day at Catawba College: A Feast of Vocal Music

October 09, 2009

Category: Events, Music


Catawba ChorusLocal audience members will be able to enjoy a host of beautiful voices raised in joyful song on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. in the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel at Catawba College.

In addition to a performance by the highly acclaimed 72-voice Catawba Singers, the Catawba Chamber Singers, Catawba Gospel Choir, and the newly formed Catawba Women's Chorale will perform. Music ranging from the 15th century master Josquin des Pres to popular song-writer Phil Collins will be a part of the program.

Professor Paul E. Oakley, Director of Vocal, Choral and Sacred Music Studies at Catawba says, "There is something in this concert for everyone." Oakley will be conducting, joined by Dennis Reed, Director of the Catawba Gospel Choir and Dennis Jewett, Director of the Women's Chorale and Associate Director of all Catawba Choirs. The program will be accompanied by Dr. Robert Hallquist, pianist, and Catawba's new Keyboard Scholar, Steven Stringer. The gospel piano styles of both Reed and Oakley are sure to be heard in this concert.

OakleyTwo years ago, The Salisbury Post ran a feature article introducing Professor Paul E. Oakley's vision and plans for building the vocal/choral program at Catawba. Two years later, there are over 80 students studying voice at Catawba; there are over 150 people singing in the choirs; and there are vocal performance majors with specialized studies in classical art music, musical theatre and popular music. In the last two years, the Catawba Singers have toured the southeastern and the northeastern United States, including a highly successful solo concert in New York City's Carnegie Hall last March. While at Carnegie Hall, members of the Catawba Chorale joined the Catawba Singers and members of the Catawba Vocal Faculty in a performance of Mendelssohn's "Elijah" with the New York City Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Oakley. The large New York audience began to stand, clapping and screaming "bravo" before the final measures of the piece were completed. One Catawba student said she felt like an opera star because of the huge ovation.

Last month, the Catawba Singers sang a much-celebrated performance for the convention of the North Carolina Choral Directors Association, and they are a featured choir at the North Carolina Music Educator's Convention in November.

A point of pride in Catawba's growing vocal music program is its voice faculty, whose credentials and world-wide performances equal those of any large music school in the state of North Carolina. This Choral Day Concert will also feature performances by members of the Catawba College vocal music faculty. The voice faculty includes soprano Christina Pier, a national winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, who has just returned from England making a new recording as a soloist with the BBC Singers and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; mezzo-soprano Martha Bartz who won the New York City competition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing last year; tenor Todd Geer and baritone Scott MacLeod who have active national singing careers in opera, art song and musical theatre; and baritone Dennis Jewett, who is uniquely skilled in vocal pedagogy and music education. Professor Jewett teaches on both the vocal and choral faculties of the Catawba Music Department.

This is the inaugural concert of the choirs under the umbrella of Catawba's newly reformed Shuford School of Performing Arts, combining Catawba's celebrated Theatre Department with its fast-growing Music Department. The concert is free and open to the public.


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