USD Chamber Singers to tour four Midwestern states in March

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota’s Chamber Singers will begin a weeklong tour of four Midwest states on Saturday, March 6 with a 1 p.m. performance at the First Presbyterian Church, which is located at 608 Nebraska St. in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Sioux City concert is part of an annual spring tour by the Chamber Singers and their conductor David Holdhusen, Ph.D. This year’s performances will take the Chamber Singers to venues in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and South Dakota.

“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. “They’ll have an opportunity, because we’re on the road for the entire week, to work like professional performers. I think that’s something our students will really enjoy.”

According to Holdhusen, this year’s musical program, “Life, Love, Loss and Light” includes classical and contemporary musical selections. Some of the songs featured in the program span a historical spectrum, including “Come Again!” by John Dowland to more contemporary works like “Earth Song” by Frank Ticheli and Sarah Hopkins’ “Past Life Melodies.” Also featured are folk songs from the United States and Sweden as well as spirituals like Moses Hogan’s “This Little Light of Mine,” and Ben Allaway’s “Wake Up! Ollie Brown.”

“One of the most difficult tasks for a tour like this is choosing a repertoire,” explained Holdhusen, who noted that copies of the Singers’ 2009 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.”

In addition to performing in Sioux City, the choir will travel to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a 7:30 p.m. performance on March 6 at the Broadway United Methodist Church, which is located at 11 S 1st St. The Chamber Singers conclude the Iowa portion of their tour with a 3 p.m. concert at Allaway’s church, First Christian Church (2500 University Ave.), in Des Moines on Sunday, March 7.

“It’s exciting to be performing in Des Moines because we are singing at Ben Allaway’s church,” Holdhusen explained. “‘Ollie Brown’ has become one of the choir’s favorites and I know they are excited to work with Ben and have the opportunity to perform for him. It’s always a unique learning experience to hear the composer talk about his work.”

On Monday, March 8, the Chamber Singers are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. concert at Lake Zurich High School (300 Church St.) in Lake Zurich, Ill. Holdhusen said this is a special stop for him on the spring tour.

“It’s sort of a homecoming for me,” said Holdhusen, who taught at Lake Zurich High School for six years after receiving his master’s degree at Northwestern University. “I formed a lot of close relationships there; people who helped me get to where I am today. It will be great seeing old students, colleagues and friends.”

Lake Zurich is the first of two Illinois stops. On Tuesday, March 9 the Chamber Singers will be at the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, located at 9401 S. Oakley Ave., in Chicago for a 7:30 p.m. show.

The tour winds its way through Minnesota and South Dakota with performances on Thursday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the St. Andrew Lutheran Church (13600 Technology Dr.) in Eden Prairie, Minn., and on Friday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the 1st Congregational Church, located at 300 S. Minnesota Ave., in Sioux Falls, S.D. There’s no admission costs to any of the performances; however, a freewill offering will be collected at each venue.

The premiere vocal ensemble at USD with more than two dozen members, the Chamber Singers is comprised of 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.  The Chamber Singers have performed for state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Conference, and recorded several choral works for a companion record series to music textbooks used by colleges and universities nationwide.

For more information about University Music Ensembles, please visit www.usd.edu/cfa/Music/ensembles.cfm. For information about the Chamber Singers’ 2010 Spring Tour, please contact Holdhusen at (605) 677-5721 or e-mail David.Holdhusen@usd.edu.