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Singing Statesmen, WOCO and Wind Symphony
All to Perform at Major Spring Conventions

RELEASED: Feb. 18, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — Spring 2008 will be busy for the music and theatre arts department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire following five separate invitations for university ensembles to perform at three prestigious professional music conventions.

All of the invitations — extended to UW-Eau Claire's The Singing Statesmen, Women's Concert Chorale (WOCO) and Wind Symphony — are the result of highly competitive juried selection processes.

The Singing Statesmen and Women's Concert Chorale (WOCO) were selected to perform March 7 at the American Choral Directors Association North Central Division Conference in Fargo, N.D. The Singing Statesmen are directed by Dr. Gary Schwartzhoff, and WOCO is directed by Dr. Alan Rieck.

Both choirs faced a difficult application process in which they submitted three pieces, one from each of the last three years, to a blind jury. Only 15 choirs were selected to perform out of applicants from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Students who are part of The Singing Statesmen and WOCO have described this rare performance as a highlight of their time at UW-Eau Claire, often referred to as "Wisconsin's singing university."

"It's our chance to perform on the greater stage," said Statesmen president Sean Fogarty, a senior from Dayton, Minn. "To be invited to perform among the best choirs in the Midwest is a huge honor."

Senior Sarah Chiodo, New Prague, Minn., president of WOCO, agreed.

"Women's choirs are often overlooked as being the underdogs to men's or mixed ensembles, and this is our chance to show people what a women's choir can do," said Chiodo. "We are really proud. Also, it is definitely rare for two ensembles from the same university to be invited to a major conference. It's very exciting for us to be able to attend this together."

WOCO will perform a program that celebrates women composers, including the world premiere of a piece that was written especially for the ensemble, Rieck said, noting that Christine Temple-Evans, a choral conductor and composer from Arizona, composed "Lifegiver" for the event. The concert also will spotlight the music of the first major female composer, Hildegard of Bingen, as well as Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn and Emma Lout Diemer. The program will close with "Mouth Music" by Delores Keane and John Faulkner, a vigorous Celtic piece featuring UW-Eau Claire's Dr. Jeffrey Crowell on drum.

Adding to the importance of the event for the Statesmen will be the group's premier performance of two pieces arranged for and dedicated to the ensemble by internationally known composer and professor James Mulholland of Butler University, Schwartzhoff said. The Statesmen will close their concert with Mulholland's arrangements of "Fare Thee Well My Love" and Giacchino Rossini's "La Danza." Senior Kevin Gisi, Fitchburg, and junior Johnathan Turba, Platteville, will accompany the ensemble on piano.

The Singing Statesmen, along with UW-Eau Claire's Wind Symphony, directed by Dr. Richard Mark Heidel, also have been selected to perform April 10-12 in Milwaukee at the national convention for MENC: The National Association for Music Education.

"I am very proud of the opportunities that are being afforded The Singing Statesmen in 2008," Schwartzhoff said. "It is extremely rare that an ensemble is invited to a divisional and a national conference in the same year. These accomplishments are a result of years of work by The Singing Statesmen."

The UW-Eau Claire Wind Symphony is one of only two university concert bands that will perform at the MENC Conference.

The Wind Symphony will perform in Milwaukee following another invitational performance March 14 at the College Band Directors National Association North Central Division Conference in Omaha, Neb.

The selection process for the Wind Symphony for both conventions involved submitting a CD recording of unedited selections from live concert performances from the 2006-07 academic year. Winners were selected by blind jury. Seven university bands from a field of 30 applicants across the Midwest were chosen to perform at the CBDNA conference.

"These honors place our Wind Symphony among some of the finest collegiate bands in the country," said Heidel.

For more information on the ensembles and their conductors, visit the Web sites for The Singing Statesmen, WOCO and the Wind Symphony (



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