April 29, 2009

RSU Choir to Perform in Full Concert with Two Featured Guest Artists

The new Rogers State University Choir will present its debut concert on Sunday, May 3, featuring choral music from Bach to "Amazing Grace," a performance by internationally renowned soprano Dr. Roxane LaCombe and a poetry reading by Dr. Gregory Thompson, RSU assistant professor.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held at 4 p.m. in the Will Rogers Auditorium on the RSU campus in Claremore.

In addition, the RSU Choir will join the Chancel Choir of the First Presbyterian Church of Claremore for a performance at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

The new 30-voice RSU Choir, which was formed last fall, is directed by Lonnie Liggitt, RSU adjunct instructor. The choir includes RSU students and members of area communities.

The previous RSU Choir was disbanded several years ago after notable success, culminating in a trip to Carnegie Hall in New York to sing Mozart's "Requiem" with several other college choirs.

"It was a musical epiphany for Claremore," recalls Paul Pixley of Claremore, who was a member of the original RSU choir and has rejoined the new choir. "It was one of the most memorable musical experiences of my life."

During the concert, the RSU choir will sing a broad repertoire from several eras, including Bach's choral masterpiece "Bist Du Bei Mir" (Be Near to Me) and Greg Gilpin's modern spoken piece "Do You Feel the Rhythm?" Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Christopher Marlowe will be presented in the choral pieces "The Arrow and the Song" and "Come Live with Me, And Be My Love."

Liggitt also will team up with Dr. Gregory Thompson for a presentation of Langston Hughes' poetry, featuring piano improvisation by Liggitt during Thompson's reading "to capture the feel of the poetic intent," Liggitt says.

"This is something rarely attempted, live and onstage, but if you read the lines of Hughes' poems, there is so much room for musical interpretation," said Liggitt. This section will culminate in the choral rendering of "I Dream a World."

Dr. Roxanne Lacombe, an internationally renowned soprano, will perform several Puccini arias and "Amazing Grace" with the choir. Dr. Lacombe, who is currently on the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma, has performed the title role in several operas, including "The Elixir of Love," "The Marriage of Figaro" and "Die Fleidermaus." In 1998, Dr. Lacombe performed a sold-out solo recital in New York's famed Carnegie Hall.

LaCombe began her professional singing career in New York, coaching with Steven Crawford, conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, and later with Jean-Puerre Marty, conductor of the New York City Opera. While best known for her voice concerts in Europe and the U.S., she is a scholar in the music of Carlos Guastavino, one of the foremost Argentine composers of the 20th century.

She has recorded professionally for Liggitt at Greenwood Studios in Tulsa in the making of "Horace Hopper Musical Adventures," which has won several national awards in early music education and is currently used by Project Keep in Claremore.

She holds degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music, San Diego State University and the University of Oklahoma.

Mr. Liggitt, the choir's new director, began his conducting career as a faculty member at Syracuse University, and continued with the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Civic Light Opera. He conducted the world premiere of Antol Dorati's "Missa Brevis" ,and was associate conductor of the New York premiere of Dominique Argento's "Masque of Angel.".He is now retired and serves as conductor and organist for the First Presbyterian Church Choir in Claremore. He also operates a private piano and composition studio, is on the Board of Directors of the Tulsa Symphony League and is Executive Director of the Claremore Symphony League.

Dr. Thompson is head of the RSU Department of English and Humanities, and is an experienced actor, director and writer for the stage. His production of "R3 (Richard III)" was recently performed by RSU Theatre. Last year, he wrote and directed the one-woman play "An Evangelist Drowns," based on the life of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.

This performance follows the choir's joint performance with the RSU Jazz Band on April 28. This fall, the choir will meet from 6 to 8:15 p.m. each Tuesday in the Will Rogers Auditorium.

For more information, contact Joe Cernuto at (918) 343-7723 or