February 20, 2018  

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Southern Chorale Readies to Bring American Music to Romania

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Karis Tucker, center, rehearses with The University of Southern Mississippi's Southern Chorale.

The Southern Chorale at The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music will open their year-long concert series of works by American composers on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg. The concert is part of preparations for a tour of Romania this summer.

Why Romania? Sophomore vocal performance major Karis Tucker wonders, “Why not?” Two years ago, Tucker, who grew up in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, was visiting her grandparents in McComb, Miss. and performed a recital with her father at First Presbyterian Church on Hardy Street. There she met voice faculty member Dr. Larry Smith and choral activities director Dr. Gregory Fuller, who immediately recruited her into the School of Music. 

“Romanians have not heard much American choral music,” said Tucker, “but do love the American popular culture music.”  She is very excited to return home to visit family and act as a tour guide and translator while the chorale tours Romania. “The Southern Chorale’s sound will be well-received and they will be particularly interested in how the ensemble rehearses using a tuning fork in lieu of a piano.”

The opening concert will take audiences through a whirlwind tour of American music from early 20th century composers to popular culture composers of the late 20th century.   One piece in particular, Steve Reich's "Clapping Music," is a fun, rhythmic piece that is entirely clapped. Reich is known most recently for his piece titled, "WTC 9/11" that commemorates the attacks on the World Trade Center. The New York Times has named Reich "among the great composers of the century."  

Rebecca Smith, senior music major in the ensemble, feels that this concert will be relevant to everyone stating, "’Clapping Music’ is fun and challenging,” she said. “The program as a whole is so diverse that I know audiences will love it.”

Also included on the program are three selections by one of the longest-running rock and roll groups still touring today, Chicago. Doctoral conducting candidate Jonathon Rogers' arrangement of a few of the band’s greatest hits is likely to add toe-tapping to the hand clapping.

“This is an exciting year for us as we prepare to take some great American choral music of all genres to a world audience,” said Fuller.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call 601.266.4092.