WMU News

Festival features 1,650-voice chorus in Miller

March 6, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The 63rd annual Southwestern Michigan Vocal Festival will be held on the WMU campus on Thursday, March 15. The day-long festival will culminate in a 7 p.m. performance in Miller Auditorium. The concert is open to the public, free of charge.

After the 1,650-voice Festival Chorus is seated in the first two levels of the auditorium, the audience will be seated in the balcony. Guest conductor Eph Ehly, one of this generation's most sought-after choral conductor/clinicians, will lead the evening performance, which includes the Festival Chorus and the select 75-member 2001 Honors Choir, as well as performances by WMU's University Symphony Orchestra and Grand Chorus.

The concert will feature the Festival Chorus performing Ron Nelson's Fanfare for a Festival, accompanied by brass and percussion players from the University Symphonic Band; the Introit & Kyrie from Gabriel Fauré's Requiem; Felix Mendelssohn's "Thanks Be to God" from Elijah; Ray Henderson's The Birth of the Blues; and Keith Hampton's Praise His Holy Name.

Keyboard accompaniment will be provided by WMU faculty members Dr. Stephen Zegree (piano) and Dr. Karl Schrock, University Organist. In addition to piano accompaniment, the Henderson and Hampton works will include WMU student instrumentalists Joe Ayoub, a double bassist from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Jeff Link, a drummer from Grand Rapids.

The Honors Choir will present Ralph Manuel's Alleluia, an a capella work; Marcos Leit's Três Cantos Nativos (dos Indios Kraó), performed with choir members playing percussion instruments; and Paul Marsena's I'm Gonna Rise, with piano accompaniment by Zegree.

The festival is one of the largest, oldest, and most successful high school choral festivals in the United States. This year's festival will draw participants from 41 Southwest Michigan high schools.

High schools participating in this year's festival and their directors are:

Albion, Tony J. Shapow
Allegan, Julie Zellmer
Allendale, Connie Hyatt
Bangor, Nancy Mansberger
Battle Creek Central, Susan Lawrence
Brandywine, Denise Boger
Buchanan, Carol McKean
Byron Center, Amanda Quist
Caledonia, Carol Gess
Coloma, Pam Pierson
Delton-Kellogg, Ryan S. Casey
East Kentwood, Carrie Hoeksema
Edwardsburg, Janice Merrill
Grand Rapids Central, Debra Perry
Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, Vanessa A. Allen
Grand Rapids Union, Mary Lou Kosty
Hamilton, Joel Bouwman
Hartford, Steve Zebell
Hastings, Patti LaJoye
Kalamazoo Central, C. Frederick Colgren
Kalamazoo First Assembly, Bob Walker
Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Central, Kellee Love Zegree
Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, Marie Kerstetter
Lakeview, Jeffrey A. Vallier
Lawton, Gary Oegema
Marcellus, Malinda L. Eyster
Mattawan, David Hook
Niles, Matt Hunckler
Portage Central, Cynthia Borik
Portage Northern, Catherine Walker Adams
Rockford, David Duiven
South Haven, Cole Tyrrell
Stevensville Lakeshore, Kelly Ann Westgate
Sturgis, Marcia Pustelnik
Three Oaks River Valley, Robert Hay
Three Rivers, Dan Roberts
Watervliet, Tami Brush
Wayland Union, Jan Laman
Wyoming Lee, Mary M. Rozeboom
Wyoming Park, Peggy B. Patrick
Wyoming Rogers, Janet Nichols

Since its inception in 1935 the Southwestern Michigan Vocal Festival has been dedicated to one goal: To provide an experience in mass singing of good repertoire under the leadership of an inspiring conductor. Each year a noted guest conductor is invited to work with select students in a fall workshop and conduct the day-long festival in March.

Media contact: Kevin West, 616 387-4678, kevin.west@wmich.edu

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