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Department of Music Archives - News and Events

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Delta State and Eastern Michigan choirs collaborate for joint concert

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On Friday (Feb. 24), the Delta State University’s Delta Chorale, directed by Dr. Adam Potter, will host a joint concert with Eastern Michigan University’s premier choral ensemble, the EMU Concert Choir, directed by Dr. Brandon Johnson.

The EMU group, from Ypsilanti, Michigan, has been touring the South for the past week. Their performance in Cleveland will take place in the sanctuary of Covenant Presbyterian Church at 7:30 p.m.

For Potter, the collaboration has special meaning.

“This concert brings together so many people I know and love,” said Potter. “Obviously, it is a unique opportunity for my students to get to perform with a collegiate choir from over 800 miles away. It is also an honor to partner on this project with my church family, the kind folks at Covenant Church. The director of the EMU Concert Choir, Brandon Johnson, was my undergraduate and master’s degree conductor and teacher. A 2016 Delta State music alumna, Monica Ely, is a soprano in the EMU choir. Amazingly, a former student of mine from when I was a high school music teacher in New York is also an EMU singer, now a graduate student in vocal performance. My worlds intersect here in Cleveland.”

Prior to the concert, the choirs will share a joint rehearsal and clinic with Johnson, as well as share a meal together. Johnson is the director of Choral Activities at EMU and the artistic director and conductor of the Detroit Concert Choir. Previously, he founded and was the artistic director of the emerging professional vocal ensemble Vox Lumine based in New York.

Johnson has conducted professional musicians across the United States while maintaining his extensive work with students of all ages. He has performed in venues across the country including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center, and made his conducting debut at the renowned Carnegie Hall with the National Sacred Honor Choir. He holds degrees from Concordia College and The University of Arizona and was previously a faculty member at Houghton College.

The Delta Chorale is the premier touring vocal ensemble at Delta State. Comprised of approximately 40 mixed voices, it performs frequently both on and off campus. Its repertoire features high-quality choral music from diverse styles, musical eras, languages and cultures. The choir has performed by invitation at state and regional conferences of the Mississippi Music Educators Association and American Choral Directors Association.

Dr. Vernell Bennett, Delta State’s vice president for Student Affairs, will provide opening remarks at Friday evening’s concert. Coincidentally, Bennett is a graduate of the music program at EMU.

This concert is free of charge and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to help cover the expense of EMU’s trip to Cleveland.

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Music department presents guest recital Feb. 27

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The Department of Music will present a guest artist recital in the recital hall of the Bologna Performing Arts Center Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

The guest artists, Dr. Jacob Coleman (piano) and Elise Blatchford (flute), will share the musical works of Frank Martin, Darius Milhaud, Randall Woolf, and Carl Vine.

A native of Athens, Georgia, Coleman keeps a busy schedule collaborating with a broad range of performers throughout the U.S. He is currently on faculty at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he directs the Collaborative Piano Program. From 2014-16 Coleman served as a visiting assistant professor of collaborative piano at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. During the summer, he is a member of the piano staff at Meadowmount School of Music founded by Ivan Galamian.

As a collaborator, Coleman has performed with artists such as Cleveland Orchestra principal clarinetist Franklin Cohen, bassoonist William Ludwig, St. Louis Brass member Jeff Nelsen, flutist Leone Buyse, Oregon Symphony principal cellist Nancy Ives, Metropolitan Opera baritone Frederick Burchinal, as well as the Kenari Quartet. He has also performed for a number of master class clinicians including Gil Shaham, Angela Hewitt, Donald McInnes, Warren Jones, Ransom Wilson, Mark Nuccio, Julianne Baird and Cho Liang Lin. As a vocal coach, he has held staff positions at the University of Georgia Opera Theater and the Astoria Music Festival. Additionally, Coleman has served as the principal keyboardist for the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra and The University of Texas Wind Ensemble under the direction of Jerry Junkin. In 2012, he was a collaborative piano fellow at the Music Academy of the West, where he worked with Jonathan Feldman. In 2016, he served as the official pianist for the MidSouth Flute Festival in Memphis, Tennessee. Coleman has also performed at the North American Saxophone Alliance and International Double Reeds Society conferences.

Coleman is an avid performer of new music. As a soloist, he gave the Georgia premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’s “Two New Etudes” in 2003. In April of 2016, he premiered a new work by Lansing McLoskey for oboe and piano with ToniMarie Marchioni at Spectrum. Coleman holds degrees from The University of Texas at Austin (DMA, collaborative piano), University of Oregon (MM, collaborative piano), and the University of Georgia (BM, piano performance). His primary teachers were Richard Zimdars, David Riley and Anne Epperson.

A flutist who embraces the independent, experimental and the DIY, Elise Blatchford is a professor, a member of the City of Tomorrow wind quintet, and a frequent soloist and recitalist. Her solo playing has been hailed for its “superb command of color and nuance,” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Blatchford is the assistant professor of flute at the University of Memphis Scheidt School of Music. With the contemporary music wind quintet the City of Tomorrow, she has won a gold medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and toured across the U.S.

Blatchford’s willingness to take risks has extended to multidisciplinary performance art at the Next Wave Festival at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), touring with the amplified cello rock band Portland Cello Project, and arranging and performing an entire album by singer-songwriter Mirah with her partner Leander Star.

Also at home in the traditional orchestra world, Blatchford has performed with the Oregon Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the YOA Orchestra of the Americas. With YOA, she toured extensively throughout South America, the Caribbean and mainland China, made an appearance at Carnegie Hall with Valery Gergiev, and recorded with Philip Glass.

A dedicated and inventive pedagogue, Blatchford has given master classes at New England Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, Williams College, Longy School of Music and Skidmore College, among many others. She completed degrees in flute performance at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory.

The recital is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Department of Music at 662-846-4615.

Music major Michael Sparks will compete in the Young Artist Performance Competition of the Music Teachers National Association in January 2017.

Music student wins state recital competition

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Music major Michael Sparks will compete in the Young Artist Performance Competition of the Music Teachers National Association in January 2017.

The Delta State University Department of Music is pleased to announce that music performance major and euphoniumist Michael Sparks will travel to Columbia, South Carolina to compete as the Southern Division Finalist in the Young Artist Performance Competition of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) on the campus of the University of South Carolina from Jan. 13-16, 2017.

Sparks earned the opportunity to represent Mississippi after winning the Young Artist Division of the MTNA State Competition held at Delta State in early November. The winner of the Southern Division Competition will compete in the national finals during the MTNA National Conference in Baltimore, Maryland in March.

Sparks, a native of Cleveland, is currently a senior in the low brass studio of Dr. Douglas L. Mark.

The three-tiered MTNA competitions begin at the state level. Winners of each state competition advance to the division competition, and division winners then proceed to the finals.

MTNA is a nonprofit organization comprised of 22,000 independent and collegiate music teachers committed to advancing the value of music study and music making to society, and to supporting the professionalism of music teachers. Founded in 1876, MTNA is the oldest professional music association in the country.

For more information, contact the Department of Music at 662-846-4615.

The Delta State Department of Music presents an evening of chamber music featuring the DSU Woodwind Quintet, DSU Flute Quartet and the DSU Saxophone Duo in the Bologna Performing Arts Center Recital Hall Nov. 16 at 7:30 
p.m.

Chamber ensembles concert coming to BPAC

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The Delta State Department of Music presents an evening of chamber music featuring the DSU Woodwind Quintet, DSU Flute Quartet and the DSU Saxophone Duo in the Bologna Performing Arts Center Recital Hall on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

The concert is free and open to the public.

The chamber ensembles have just returned from a tour of northern Mississippi, where they delighted high school audiences with their performances.

Delta State’s newly-formed Woodwind Quintet is comprised of leading members of the DSU Wind Ensemble, including flute player Amanda Lutz of Horn Lake, oboe player Mollie Searcy of Grenada, clarinet player Emily Hercules of Ripley, bassoon player Tristan Crockett of Grenada, and horn player Jacob Jackson of Southaven. The quintet is coached by Dr. Shelley Collins and Dr. Bret Pimentel. The quintet will play works by Haydn and Persichetti.

The DSU Saxophone Duo, under the direction of Pimentel, will perform works by W. F. Bach, Arthur Mayeur, and Paul Hindemith. Members of the ensemble ainclude Sara Crider of Purvis and Dakota Young of Grenada.

The DSU Flute Quartet, under the direction of Collins, will perform Cathleen McMichael’s “Legends from the Greenwood,” a showpiece inspired by the poetry of Longfellow, and “Concerto in A Minor,” by French Baroque composer Boismortier. Members of the quartet include Savannah Cavalier of Brookhaven, Barbara Doorenbos of Meridian, Amanda Lutz of Horn Lake, and Caitelan Shelton of Ripley.

For more information, contact the Department of Music at 662-846-4615.

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Handel’s “Messiah” to be performed at Delta State

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Zeigel Hall on the campus of Delta State is currently filled with the sounds of one of the most beloved musical works of all time, “Messiah,” by George Frideric Handel.

The Delta Chorale, Delta Singers Okramen and Delta Singers Women’s Chorale are learning the masterwork for a performance at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.

Across town on Monday nights at First United Methodist Church, the Delta Choral Union is learning the same music in preparation for a grand collaboration that will take shape over the next three weeks, culminating in the concert performance.

Dr. Adam Potter, director of Choral Activities at Delta State and the conductor of the Delta Chorale and Delta Singers Women’s Chorale, is the music director for the performance. He will share the podium with ElizaBeth Beckham, conductor of the Delta Choral Union, and Kevin Tharp, conductor of the Delta Singers Okramen.

“There is no better way to kick off the holiday season than with a gala choral performance like this,” said Potter. “We are so excited to bring ‘Messiah’ to the Delta.”

The Delta Chorale is the premier touring vocal ensemble at Delta State. Comprised of approximately 40 mixed voices, it performs frequently both on and off campus. Its repertoire features high-quality choral music from diverse styles, musical eras, languages and cultures. The chorale has performed by invitation at state and regional conferences of the Mississippi Music Educators Association and American Choral Directors Association.

Delta Singers encompasses two separate choirs, the Okramen men’s choir and Women’s Chorale, which perform together frequently. These non-auditioned choirs provide singers an opportunity to learn many styles of music and also focus on developing vocal and musicianship skills. They also serve as lab choirs for advanced student conductors.

The Delta Choral Union is an adult volunteer community choir based in Cleveland. It has a proud history of excellent singing and highly-anticipated concerts. Beckham serves as its music director.

For this performance, the Delta State University choral program has hired a full roster of professional string players from the Memphis Symphony Orchestra to accompany the choirs. Their concertmaster will be Anne-Gaëlle Ravetto, instructor of violin at Delta State.

Department of Music faculty Josh Armstrong, Shelley Collins, Michael Ellzey, Bret Pimentel and Kumiko Shimizu will complete the orchestra in the wind, percussion and continuo sections.

The performance will also feature professional artists presenting the vocal solos Handel interspersed between the choruses. Laurissa Backlin, soprano, is currently an assistant professor of music at Delta State. Chad Payton, countertenor, is an assistant professor of voice at Capital University in Ohio (former DSU faculty from 2011-16). Jamie Dahman, tenor, joined the DSU voice faculty this fall. Patton Rice, bass-baritone, is the director of vocal music at the Mississippi School of the Arts and a frequent soloist with Mississippi Opera.

Tickets for this event are available at the Bologna Performing Arts Center box office or at choir.deltastate.edu. They are $15 for adults, $10 for DSU faculty and staff, and $5 for students and senior citizens.

This performance has been made possible by a generous donation from Margaret Heard Walker.