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November 13, 2009
Vol. 51 No. 9

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Women's ensemble to debut tonight

The Susquehanna Women's Choir will have a concert on Friday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. The concert will be held in Stretansky Concert Hall in the Cunningham Center for Music and Arts.

"This is a new choir on our campus," Rodney Caldwell, associate professor of music and director of choral activities said. "The women's choir was started in the fall."

Caldwell said that he wanted to start this choir because the three existing vocal ensembles--the choir the chorale and the chamber singers--all have sopranos, altos, tenors and basses and "do similar repertories, to some extent. We need to expand opportunities for students," he said.

Caldwell said he hopes that the choir will "provide a learning opportunity they weren't getting in our other ensembles."

According to Caldwell, the women's choir repertoire will consist of "a variety of sacred and secular pieces" and that the songs are "fairly eclectic in terms of the countries being covered and styles of pieces, as well."

For example, one of the pieces is by Canadian composer Imant Raminsh, who was born in Latvia.

Only two of the pieces were arranged by Americans, one of which is an arrangement of an Appalachian folk song.

The oldest piece is from the 18th century.

"The selection was to try and expose them to standard women's chorus repertoire," Caldwell said. "There isn't another place where they'll learn to deal with women's choir."

Caldwell said the group is composed of less than 20 students and that the most vocal parts (soprano, alto, etc.) the group will attempt to cover is five.

With the amount of students involved in the group, Caldwell said that voice part range is "pretty ambitious."

The women's choir was not formed through an audition process, but the women selected had auditioned for other university ensembles.

"Any student who wanted to be in this group could be in it," Caldwell said.
"I've been pleasantly surprised at how they sound," he added. "It's turned out as well as I would have hoped for."

However, Caldwell noted that the women's choir will cease to exist in the spring semester, when it will be replaced by the chamber singers. In the fall 2010 semester, a men's choir will be established. From then on, Caldwell said, the men's and women's choirs will be active in opposite fall semesters.

The concert tonight will also feature a performance by junior music education majors Emily Odgren and Zachary Alley and music performance major Anthony Muñoz.

"We're playing Bedrich Smetana's 'Piano Trio in G Minor, Opus 15,'" Alley said, who will play the cello while Odgren plays the piano and Muñoz the violin.

According to Alley, Smetana is regarded as the father of Czech music and the piece was composed after his young daughter died of scarlet fever in 1855.

"About a little over a year ago we came up with the idea of playing together," Alley said. "We've been planning this since the summer and worked on it when we got back to school. This is our first performance of it; we'll be playing again on Dec. 6."

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