USD Chamber Singers present North American concert tour

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota’s Chamber Singers will begin a weeklong tour of South Dakota, North Dakota, and Manitoba, Canada on Saturday, March 5 with a 1 p.m. performance at the United Church of Christ, which is located at 218 W. 5th St. in Yankton, S.D. The concert is part of an annual spring tour by the Chamber Singers and their conductor David Holdhusen, Ph.D.

“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. “Because we are on the road for the entire week, the students have the opportunity to work like professional performers. I think that is and important experience for our young musicians, and something they will really enjoy.”

This year’s musical program, “A Slave’s Journey,” includes classical and contemporary musical selections. According to Holdhusen, some of the songs featured in the program span a historical spectrum, including J.S. Bach’s sixth motet, “Lobet den Herrn” to more contemporary works like “Verses Left to Write” by Timothy Tharaldson, and piece written a few years ago for the Chamber Singers by Peter Durow entitled “The Slave Sang at Midnight.” Also featured are United States folk songs and spirituals like Moses Hogan’s “Steal Away” and Allen Koepke’s “Follow the Drinking Gourd.”

“One of the most difficult tasks for a tour like this is choosing a repertoire,” explained Holdhusen, who noted that copies of the Singers’ 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 Yankton, the choir will travel to Freeman, S.D., for a 7 p.m. performance on March 5 at the Salem Zion Mennonite Church, located at 27844 443rd Ave.  The Chamber Singers continue with a 4:30 p.m. concert on March 6 at First United Methodist Church (502 S Lincoln) in Aberdeen, S.D.

On Monday, March 7, the Chamber Singers are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. performance at Peace Lutheran Church (1011 12th Ave. N.) in Fargo, N.D., then travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 8 for a concert at the Westminster United Church located at 745 Westminster Ave.

“This is a great educational experience for our students,” Holdhusen said of traveling internationally.  “While it may not be an overseas tour, the students still need to negotiate customs, get passports, and they are exposed to cultural differences in a foreign land. This opportunity is something the singers are really looking forward to.”

The tour winds its way back to South Dakota for final performances on Thursday, March 9 at 7p.m. at Brandon Lutheran Church (600 East Holly Blvd.) and on Friday, March 10 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 cost to any of the performances; however, a freewill offering will be collected at each venue.

The premiere vocal ensemble at USD with thirty 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.

A concert photograph of the Chamber Singers is available for download at www.usd.edu/press/news/images/releases/2011_ChamberSingers.jpg.

For more information about University Music Ensembles, please visit www.usd.edu/cfa/Music/ensembles.cfm. For information about the Chamber Singers’ 2011 Spring Tour, please contact Holdhusen at (605) 677-5721 or e-mail David.Holdhusen@usd.edu.