Chamber Choir celebrates return with hometown concert April 1

Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, WV – The Marshall University Chamber Choir, which returns today froma 10-day performance tour to France that began March 15, will perform their tour repertoire at a concert in Huntington Sunday, April 1. The performance, under the direction of Dr. David Castleberry, will take place at 3 p.m. in Smith Music Hall on Marshall’s Huntington campus.


The 40-voice choir, known for outstanding performances of music from the past five centuries, began its trip in Paris, where they sang mass at the famed Notre Dame Cathedral Sunday, March 18. 


“To think of over seven hundred years of history that rest in this building, the millions of visitors each year from all over the world, and to know that our students from Marshall University were featured throughout a Sunday-morning service is an honor and a privilege,” Castleberry said.


While in Paris, the choir visited areas such as Montmartre, where artists like Van Gogh and Toulouse Latrec painted; the Latin Quarter, where legendary poets, philosophers, and musicians have made their homes; and the Marais, an area that preserves much of the feeling of a Paris from centuries gone by. From Paris, the choir continued to the Perigord region of France in the south, home to Roman ruins, ancient cave drawings, and towns and fortresses carved into the sides of mountains. Destinations included La Roque-Gageac, literally built into the side of a cliff overlooking the Dordogne River; Sarlat-la-Caneda, a perfectly preserved medieval town; Rocamadour, a center for pilgrimages in the Middle Ages; Arles, with its Roman amphitheater and beautiful St. Trophime Church; and Nice, where the choir concluded  its trip with a stop on the French Riviera. During the tour, the students presented six concerts, including two performances hosted by local French choirs.


“For our students to sing and interact with French choirs was a memorable part of our travels and really represents the best kind of cultural exchange I can imagine,” Castleberry said.


The Chamber Choir performed a good deal of American music during the tour, along with a sampling of sacred music from the renaissance. “When our choirs perform in Europe, audiences want to hear some American music,” Castleberry said. “So, we took a large sampling of folk songs, spirituals and some newly composed works by American composers.”


In addition, the choir prepared six pieces by Paul Hindemith to be sung in French. “Hindemith was not born in America, but he did spend an important part of his career here, teaching and composing at Yale University,” Castleberry said. “We felt it would tie together the experiences of America and France to perform music in French by an American composer. We have worked exceptionally hard to be sure that our French pronunciations would be accurate and easily understood.”


“The opportunity owes so much to the Department of Music, the College of Fine Arts and members of our community, who have shown such generous support to help make this trip possible,” Castleberry said. “The recognition reflects the high artistic standards this choir has maintained over the years. The experiences opened eyes and will change lives, as the world got much bigger for this wonderful group of students. I am so grateful to them and to all those who have helped make this happen.”


For more information, contact Jaye Ike, 304-696-3296  or .


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