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Three UW-Eau Claire Choral Ensembles Release New CD

RELEASED: Sept. 11, 2009

cover for "Take Up the Song" CdEAU CLAIRE — Several choral ensembles and two faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, often referred to as "Wisconsin's Singing University," were invited by acclaimed composer James Quitman Mulholland and music publisher Colla Voce to come together to record a compact disc of his work.

The result, "Take Up The Song," was released Sept. 1 and now is available for $16 online or through the music and theatre arts department at UW-Eau Claire.

The CD, which features UW-Eau Claire's Concert Choir, The Singing Statesmen and Women's Concert Chorale — more than 400 voices — offers choral music fans Mulholland's arrangements of a variety of traditional songs, such as "Loch Lomond," "When I Fall in Love" and "America the Beautiful," as well as some of his original compositions, including "Psalm 103," "Loveliest of Trees" and the six-movement "Momentous of Millay."

Mulholland, who was invited by Dr. Gary Schwartzhoff, professor of music and director of choral activities at UW-Eau Claire, to be an artist-in-residence for UW-Eau Claire's choral studies area in 2007, said that he's been privileged to hear many wonderful choral ensembles throughout the country.

"After being on campus for a few days, I realized that I was being exposed to an excellence in choral music that was comparable to the best in the nation," Mulholland said, noting that this excellence was what led him to request a CD collaboration. "I was thrilled when the choral department accepted this proposal.

"It was a rare privilege indeed for me to make and share music with these wonderful, respectful students and this talented, dedicated staff," Mulholland said. "Wisconsin's star shines brighter in the world of choral music because of the professional excellence demonstrated by this faculty and these students. I'm proud that my name and my music will always be associated with UW-Eau Claire with the release of 'Take Up The Song.'"

Schwartzhoff conducts both the Concert Choir and The Singing Statesmen. The Women's Concert Chorale is conducted by Dr. Alan Rieck, associate professor of music at UW-Eau Claire. The CD also features Dr. Verle Ormsby Jr., a senior lecturer in horn studies, on French horn, as well as four student pianists and a brass ensemble of 11 students.

"It was an honor for our choral ensembles to have been invited to do a recording by this nationally recognized composer," Schwartzhoff said. "The experience was even more meaningful as he visited campus on three occasions during 2008-09 to work with each of the ensembles. In all, the choral music of James Mulholland spoke profoundly to our students and audience."

Mulholland is one of the most published, performed and commissioned composer/arrangers of his generation. A native of Mississippi, he began singing at an early age and by age 12 was studying composition. His music was influenced by his Irish heritage and the English school of lyricism, which emphasizes the beauty of melody and text, and his aesthetic is romantic. He currently is a professor of music theory and history at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind.

In addition to Concert Choir and The Singing Statesmen, Schwartzhoff conducts the Chamber Choir at UW-Eau Claire and also teaches conducting. He has been active in the American Choral Directors Association throughout his career, and choirs under his direction have performed at state, divisional, national and international conventions, including those of the ACDA. In 2009, he conducted the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Choral Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Rieck, in addition to directing the Women's Concert Chorale, conducts the Symphonic Choir and has taught courses in music education at UW-Eau Claire since 2001. Previously he taught and conducted at Northern Arizona University and UW-Madison and served as chorus master of the Madison Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Ormsby teaches horn studies at UW-Eau Claire and is a member of the Wisconsin Woodwind Quintet, Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra and Northwinds British Brass Band.

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NW/DW

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