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ETBU University Singers to kick off special centennial month

By Joe Holloway
Oct. 3, 2012 at 10 p.m.

The University Singers at East Texas Baptist University will kick of the school's fall concert season with a free concert in the Woods Great Room of the Ornelas Student Center at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

ETBU's Concert Choir will have a free show of its own in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church of Marshall at 7:30 p.m. on Friday as well.

Dr. Justin Hodges, ETBU's choir director, said the University Singers is a select group of eight singers and that this concert, its first of the year, will be a varied program.

"We'll have some William Byrd, some Mozart," he said. "There will be some more contemporary sacred anthems as well."

ETBU is celebrating its 100th year as a university and Hodges said the choir was excited to be a part of the festivities.

"We're definitely kicking things off for the month," he said. "Which is of course the apex of the centennial."

The University Singers will give a musical nod to that centennial mark in their concert.

"A neat piece that we discovered just with our Centennial Celebration is the university hymn that the student body doesn't know," said Hodges. "It's been kind of one of those things that's been left in the corner for a long time."

The words to the hymn, "Now and Always," were penned by Mary Ketcham Armstrong, who was ETBU librarian from 1930-1955.

"That was one of those ones I guess there were several of the alumni who still knew it, but as far as being regularly sung at any ceremony around campus or anything, it hadn't in a long time," said Hodges. "We're just bringing that back out."

The University Ringers, the school's hand bell ensemble, will join the full ETBU Concert Choir at the concert on Friday night.

"This is kind of our typical early fall concert, one of the regular concerts of the year," said Hodges. "The main note there is that this is also a concert in conjunction with the University Ringers."

The Ringers will be under the direction of Mark Crim.

"He's the band director up here," said Hodges. "Some of the bell arrangements, you'll hear Beethoven. You'll hear another renaissance piece by Thomas Tallis. You'll hear a Braums motet.

"Braums is good stuff."

Both concerts will feature accompanist Bob Wright,Director of the Bennett Music Technology Lab at ETBU and Composer-in-Residence for the university.

Hodges said that it's been a busy for the choir, which is also preparing for "Sunday in the Park With George," a Pulitzer Prize-winning musical the choir will perform at shows on Oct. 17-21.

"It's just been a whirlwind semester with getting ready for centennial and the musical and we're also putting together Handel's Messiah for later in the semester," he said. "It's been a whirlwind, but it's always such a joy because the kids are working so hard."



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