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National Seminar Hosted by Singing Statesmen to Feature Premiere of 'Pfc. Jesse Givens' Based on Last Words of Soldier Killed in Iraq

RELEASED: Feb. 21, 2006

U.S. Army Chorus
The U.S. Army Chorus is one of nine performing groups of The United States Army Band (Pershing's Own), based at Ft. Myer in Arlington, Virginia. They will be performing at UW-Eau Claire during the Intercollegiate Men's Choruses National Seminar.

EAU CLAIRE — An Army soldier's last words to his family from Iraq inspired the composition "Private First Class Jesse Givens," which will be performed for the first time during the 42nd Intercollegiate Men's Choruses National Seminar, March 16-18, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The moving piece is based on a letter Army Pfc. Jesse Givens, 34, of Springfield, Mo., wrote to be delivered in the event of his death to his wife, Melissa, and their children. Givens was killed in May 2005 when his tank fell into the Euphrates River after the bank on which it was parked gave way.

Givens' widow, Melissa, will attend a special performance of the piece by UW-Eau Claire's The Singing Statesmen and Miami University Men's Glee Club from 1:30-2:30 p.m. March 18 in the Council Fire Room of Davies Center.

Composed by Lee Hoiby, the piece was commissioned by the IMC Consortium for the 2006 seminar, which is hosted by the Statesmen. Fifteen male choruses, representing 1,200 singers from eight states and the District of Columbia, will take part in the event.

"This event represents the gathering of choral traditions from across the United States to celebrate the unique qualities and sounds of the male chorus," said Joshua Andrew, student coordinator of the seminar.

The Statesmen last hosted the IMC National Seminar in 1996, said Gary Schwartzhoff, director of choral activities at UW-Eau Claire.

"We're very excited to host this national seminar," Schwartzhoff said. "It's fitting that ' Wisconsin's Singing University' should host the seminar representing the world of male choruses. We come together to learn from one another and to strengthen the male chorus community."

Schwartzhoff said the seminar offers exciting events and opportunities for growth, including five concerts, six interest sessions and opportunities for fellowship. The concerts are a rare opportunity to hear some of the country's finest male choruses and are open to the public.

The sound from a men's chorus is unmatchable, said Andrew, a fifth-year member of the Statesmen. "You can feel the spirit of pride and competition and at the same time there is a unity in the brotherhood of male choruses," he said.

Headline performers for the seminar are the United States Army Chorus and the male vocal ensemble Cantus, a Minneapolis-based group that in the past 10 years has become a full-time touring ensemble, performing with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and other Midwestern venues. The Army Chorus of 28 soldiers regularly performs for top military and civilian leaders in Washington, D.C., as well as for the public.

Cantus, the U.S. Army Chorus, conducted by Lt. Col. John Clanton, and The Singing Statesmen, conducted by Schwartzhoff, will perform at 8 p.m. March 18 in Gantner Concert Hall of the Haas Fine Arts Center.

Other concerts and performers during the three-day event include:

  • March 16, 7:30 p.m. — Appleton North High School Male Chorus and the St. Olaf Viking Chorus in Gantner Concert Hall, Haas Fine Arts Center.
  • March 17, 3 p.m. — Wausau West Male Chorus, St. John's University Men's Chorus, Wabash College Glee Club and South Dakota State University Statesmen in Gantner Concert Hall, Haas Fine Arts Center.
  • March 17, 7:30 p.m. — Miami University Men's Glee Club, Kansas State University Glee Club, and UW-Eau Claire Singing Statesmen, Gantner Concert Hall, Haas Fine Arts Center.
  • March 18, 3 p.m. — Appleton Boychoir, Ohio State University Men's Glee Club, Iowa State University Iowa Statesmen and Michigan State University Men's Glee Club, Gantner Concert Hall, Haas Fine Arts Center.

Tickets for the concerts go on sale Feb. 27 in the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727 or (800) 949-8932. The cost is $10 per concert for adults and $5 for students. For information about the seminar, contact Schwartzhoff at (715) 836-4056 or on the Web at www.uwec.edu/mus-the/imc.

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JW/JB

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