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Free concert at Catawba Sunday

A host of voices will rise in joyful song for a free concert Sunday at 5 p.m. in the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel at Catawba College.
In addition to a performance by the acclaimed 72-voice Catawba Singers, the Catawba Chamber Singers, Catawba Gospel Choir and the newly formed Catawba Women’s Chorale will perform. Music ranging from the 15th Century master Josquin des Pres to popular songwriter Phil Collins will be a part of the program.
This is the inaugural concert of the choirs under the umbrella of Catawba’s newly reformed Shuford School of Performing Arts, combining Catawba’s celebrated Theatre Department with its fast-growing Music Department. The concert is open to the public.
“There is something in this concert for everyone.” said Professor Paul E. Oakley, director of vocal, choral and sacred music studies at Catawba.
Oakley will be conducting, joined by Dennis Reed, director of the Catawba Gospel Choir, and Dennis Jewett, director of the Women’s Chorale and associate director of all Catawba choirs. The program will be accompanied by pianist Dr. Robert Hallquist and Steven Stringer, Catawba’s new keyboard scholar. The gospel piano styles of both Reed and Oakley are sure to be heard in this concert.
Two years ago, Oakley outlined plans for building the vocal/choral program at Catawba. Now, more than 80 students study voice at Catawba; 150 people sing in the choirs; and there are vocal performance majors with specialized studies in classical art music, musical theatre and popular music.
In the last two years, the Catawba Singers have toured the eastern United States, including a concert in New York City’s Carnegie Hall last March. While at Carnegie Hall, members of the Catawba Chorale joined the Catawba Singers and members of the Catawba Vocal Faculty in a performance of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with the New York City Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Oakley.
Last month, the Catawba Singers sang for the convention of the N.C. Choral Directors Association, and they are a featured choir at the N.C. Music Educator’s Convention in November.
The Choral Day Concert will also feature performances by members of the Catawba College vocal music faculty. The voice faculty includes soprano Christina Pier, a national winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, who has just returned from England making a new recording as a soloist with the BBC Singers and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; mezzo-soprano Martha Bartz who won the New York City competition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing last year; tenor Todd Geer and baritone Scott MacLeod who have active national singing careers in opera, art song and musical theatre; and baritone Dennis Jewett, who is uniquely skilled in vocal pedagogy and music education.
Jewett teaches on the vocal and choral faculties of the Catawba Music Department.

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