Sunday concert kicks off DePauw Chamber Singers N. American tour

Friday, January 10, 2014
DePauw University Chamber Singers are ready for a free Sunday afternoon performance in Greencastle, followed by their North American tour.

If cabin fever has you ready to explode out of the house after days of artic weather, there's good news, performances by the DePauw University School of Music resume Sunday when the DePauw Chamber Singers kick off the ensemble's 2014 North American tour to Texas and Mexico at 3 p.m. Jan. 12 in Kresge Auditorium.

The concert Sunday is a culmination of intense work over the past 10 days. The 80-minute farewell performance, conducted by Gregory Ristow and accompanied by Amanda Hopson, features music from the Spanish Renaissance, and a cappella arrangements of American classics.

Included among the latter are Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," well-known spirituals arranged by Michael Tippett and a new piece, "Celebration of Hope" -- a song written by cancer patients at Texas Children's Hospital, which the group will record and also perform for the patients during the tour.

Between Jan. 12--25, Ristow, director of choral activities at DePauw, will lead the Chamber Singers in a series of nine concerts, beginning with Sunday's program at the Green Center. He will then fly with the 22-member ensemble to Houston at 5 a.m. Monday for four additional performances in the U.S. and three concerts in Mexico City and Tepotzotlán, before returning to Indiana for the singers' final tour appearance at the annual Indiana Music Educators Association (IMEA) conference Jan. 25 in Fort Wayne.

"The Chamber Singers have not traveled beyond the Midwest in four years, so we are thrilled to be taking this great music on tour to Texas and Mexico," said the conductor, who is especially excited by the opportunity for the ensemble and for DePauw faculty composer Scott Perkins' work to be heard by a wider audience.

School of Music student Julie Strauser, who is featured on tour as soprano soloist in three pieces -- John Corigliano's L'Invitation au Voyage, Perkins' "The Stolen Child" and the American spiritual "Steal Away" -- has been preparing for the trip since the first of the year, rehearsing familiar pieces as well as learning new music.

"In addition to ensemble practice and individual coachings, we've been doing daily section rehearsals to make sure we're all blending well and every pitch is spot on," Strauser said. "And we've been doing a lot of memorization.

"With rehearsal every day, it's hard to keep our voices healthy and fresh for the next day," added the sophomore soloist, "so we're practicing a lot of preventative medicine, too: Drinking tea, eating well and a trying to get a good night's sleep."

Strauser reports that she is also excited about the opportunity to escape Indiana weather next week and travel south to Mexico, where it is expected to be 70 degrees.

Sunday afternoon's DePauw Chamber Singers concert is free and open to the community. No tickets are needed.

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