“Our students had opportunity to perform in multiple venues with different acoustics,” said Holdhusen, professor of music and director of choral activities at USD. “Because we were on the road for the entire week, the students had the opportunity to work like professional performers, which is an important experience for our young musicians, and something they really enjoyed.”

This year’s musical program, “Out of the Ashes” included classical and contemporary musical selections spanning a variety of languages and cultures. Throughout the course of the concert, the choir performed traditional choral music, folksongs and spirituals all geared to take the audience on a journey from despair to hope. Some of the songs featured in the program include “Salvation is Created” by Pavel Tschesnokoff, Morten Lauridsen's “O Magnum Mysterium” and a new piece by Carlos Cordero called “Holding Our Breath.”

“The idea behind this year’s program is basically what we have lived through during the past two years,” Holdhusen said. “It is a person's journey from despair and destruction to hope and salvation. It is like the phoenix rising from its ashes to create something new and beautiful. It is a tremendous, heart-filled, emotional journey told through the magic of musical expression.”

The Chamber Singers traveled across South Dakota, including Aberdeen, Huron, Pierre, Rapid City, Yankton, Sioux Falls and Vermillion. They also traveled to Sioux City, Iowa.

“Coming off of the pandemic, it was important for us to travel within South Dakota in order to establish that vocal music is alive and well in our state,” said Holdhusen. “This tour gave the young musicians in the USD Chamber Singers the opportunity to sing again and share their musical message with people who are craving the concert experience. It has always been my goal to create a dramatic and emotional journey that speaks to the audience throughout the concert, but this year, I think it means even more.”

The Chamber Singers have developed a strong reputation among critics for their artistry and expressiveness. They were honored by the American Prize for their sustained excellence, heralded by critics for their recordings, and have been selected to perform at state and regional conferences. “To be recognized as one of the finest collegiate choirs in the country is truly exciting,” Holdhusen said. “It is a testament to quality musicians at USD and the dedication and artistry these singers exhibit in preparation for performance.”

Chamber Singers is the premiere vocal ensemble at USD. It is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students selected through audition from the entire university student body. Known to critics for “creating a choral concert of stunning beauty and musical understanding,” its repertoire, which is primarily a cappella, includes music from the Renaissance to the present in a wide variety of styles. The ensemble presents formal concerts on campus each semester and its annual tour has taken the group throughout the United States and Europe. They have performed for state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and the Music Educators National Association for Music Educators and have appeared on the public radio program “Going Beyond Words.” The Chamber Singers, on several occasions, have been selected as a finalist for the American Prize in Choral Performance (College and University Division) and were named an Honored Artists by this organization for its “sustained excellence.”

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