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Drake choral students work with visiting professionals

Three of Drake University’s choirs will give a concert April 15 at 3 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium. The concert will feature works by three visiting composers — Stephen Paulus, David Dickau, John Armstrong — and two visiting poets, Michael Dennis Browne and Charles Anthony Silvestri. The performance is free and open to the public and will feature the Drake Choir, Chamber Choir and Drake University/Community Chorus.

The concert is the culmination of a large learning project focused on the relationship between texts and music. The composers and poets will work with the choirs in rehearsals leading up to the concert. The visiting professionals will also hold a pre-concert discussion in Levitt Hall in Old Main at 2 p.m., which is also free and open to the public.

“In our choral program we typically spend a great deal of time considering the texts we sing by discussing them and writing about them, as well as focusing on the contexts of those words,” says Aimee Beckmann-Collier, director of choral studies. “Undoubtedly, the weekend with the composers and poets in residence will only heighten the pleasure of our study of the music and texts.

Paulus is one of America’s most renowned composers, having written over 400 works for most of the major orchestras in the U.S. He has done a great deal of work with Browne and the Drake Choir will perform his piece — with text from Browne — “Pilgrims’ Hymn.”

Dickau is a nationally known composer of choral music, and the Drake Choir will perform two of his works, “love is” and “Effortlessly.” Armstrong, a composer from Syracuse, NY, wrote one piece that was then broken into two compositions using text from both Browne and Silvestri. The Drake University/Community Chorus will perform Armstrong’s “The Dance,” which features text from Browne, and the Chamber Choir will perform Armstrong’s “Wandering Sailor,” with text from Silvestri.