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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grammy Award-nominated Singing Hoosiers welcome distinguished alumni for 60th anniversary show at IU

WHAT: Singing Hoosiers 60th anniversary concert
WHEN: March 27, 8 p.m.
WHERE: IU Auditorium, 1211 E. 7th St.
TICKETS: Tickets are $15 for adults or $12 with valid student ID, available through the IU Auditorium Box Office or Ticketmaster.

March 4, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Singing Hoosiers, a choral ensemble within the Jacobs School of Music, will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a gala performance March 27 at the IU Auditorium.

"For this 60th anniversary concert, many Singing Hoosier alumni from all over the world are coming back to IU to see old friends and relive their college days as Singing Hoosiers by attending the concert," said Michael Schwartzkopf, conductor of the choral ensemble. "The audience will once again see and hear a wide variety of music that they have come to expect from the Singing Hoosiers throughout its rich history."

The performance will commemorate the lives of Al Cobine and Erich Kunzel, two musicians who greatly contributed to the Singing Hoosiers in the past decades.

Cobine, who passed away last spring, was well known locally as a band leader and performer who also arranged or composed more than 150 songs for the Singing Hoosiers (including many songs by Hoagy Carmichael) beginning in 1963.

The Singing Hoosiers' collaboration with Kunzel began in 1974. Often called the "Music Man" during his life, Kunzel's association with the choral ensemble resulted in many concerts with the orchestras of Detroit and Indianapolis as well as the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and six recordings, two of which were nominated for Grammy Awards.

The concert will include favorite popular music by composers such as Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Hoagy Carmichael and music from recent Broadway shows including Wicked and Copacabana. The show will also feature the individual talents of its members -- including harpist Emily Levin, who was featured during the ensemble's 2009 Chimes of Christmas concert, and the Varsity Singers, showcasing their precision choreography.

At its pre-concert banquet, Singing Hoosiers alumni will present the Distinguished Singing Hoosier Award to Barbara Stock (B.A.'78), an actress whose numerous TV credits include an appearance on a classic "Seinfeld" episode; David Deeg (B.A.'59, MA'66); Thor Steingraber (B.A.'88); and Samuel Bortka (B.A.'93, MA'97). The Outstanding Young Singing Hoosier Award will be presented to Elizabeth Stanley (B.S.'01), who is currently in rehearsals for her third major role in a Broadway show, Million Dollar Quartet.

Singing Hoosiers director Michael Schwartzkopf was a member of the Singing Hoosiers from 1964 to 1969 and also was a graduate assistant while working on his master's degree from 1974 to 1976.

Growing up in Columbus, Ind., Schwartzkopf came from a music-loving family but didn't have the opportunity to travel until he joined the choral ensemble. Among the highlights of his time in the Singing Hoosiers were an East Coast tour, performing at the Rose Bowl in 1967, and a USO tour to the Arctic region, including Greenland and Iceland.

Michael Schwartzkopf is director of IU's award-winning Singing Hoosiers choral ensemble.

Print-Quality Photo

After 10 years as director of Vocal Activities at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., (1976-1986) and director of Choral Activities at Illinois State University (1986-1995), Schwartzkopf returned to IU as director of the Singing Hoosiers in 1995.

Some students who join the ensemble remain part of the ensemble for their entire undergraduate career. They rehearse Monday through Thursday (and sometimes Friday) for one hour each day, earning two credit hours per semester. About two-thirds of the Singing Hoosiers are non-music majors, said Schwartzkopf. Approximately 100 students audition each year, and about 25-30 are accepted to the ensemble, replacing those who have graduated or have academic conflicts.

"To be selected into the Singing Hoosiers, the singer needs to have a good, 'blendable' voice and some basic musical skills," Schwartzkopf said. "It's an added plus if they have performer skills."

IU junior Elisabeth Wurm, a theater major in the IU Department of Theatre and Drama, joined the Singing Hoosiers during the fall of her sophomore year. The St. Louis native knew about the Singing Hoosiers by reputation before she became an IU student. Wurm said being involved in the Singing Hoosiers has shaped her college experience. "We took a spring break trip to the Carolinas last spring to do six shows -- it was a great trip -- and we took a trip to Richmond, Va. The road shows are so much fun because we get to spend hours together and see the sights. I have met a wide variety of people and definitely some close friends."

This closeness has naturally led to some enduring friendships and romantic relationships -- Schwartzkopf has been invited to two weddings of Singing Hoosiers alumni this spring.

"Singing Hoosiers is more than a choral ensemble," said Schwartzkopf. "It's an organization that teaches life skills. You have to work hard, be disciplined, keep your schedule in order ... you're not with mom and dad anymore. It teaches responsibility."