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DWU choirs, Huron Symphony combine to bring 'All-American Concert' Sunday

Americana set to music will come to life through the talents of Dakota Wesleyan's choirs and the Huron Symphony Orchestra this weekend during DWU's spring "All-American Concert."

The All-American Concert -- featuring Dakota Wesleyan Choir, the Choral Union and the Huron Symphony -- will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at the First United Methodist Church, Mitchell.

The concert is made possible by a grant by the Mitchell Charitable Foundation and is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature selections from Aaron Copland's "Old American Songs" and Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms," both musicians whose works draw from traditional writing styles of American jazz, folk music and secular pieces.

The choirs will perform selections with the symphony accompanying during the "Chichester Psalms."

"This concert is full of some of my favorite music by two of the biggest and most well-known American composers of the 20th century, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein," said Clint Desmond, DWU choral director. "Copland is the quintessential American composer; there is nothing he's written that doesn't draw from 'Americana,' whether it be Shaker or folk music."

Copland was enchanted by the Old West, Desmond said, and this led him to becoming one of the most famous American composers, with few who have not heard something he's written.

"Fanfare for the Common Man" is a popular piece that is often used for that opening prairie scene in movies, Desmond said, and the "Beef. It's What's For Dinner" campaign uses Copland's "Rodeo" ballet.

"I love Bernstein, he's one of my favorite composers of all time," Desmond said about the second composer to be featured. "He was the man who wrote 'West Side Story' and a slew of others, and he was also the music director for the New York Philharmonic. A lot of his music has elements of one or the other."

Jonathon Freeman, a boy from Ethan in the DWU Children's Choir, will sing a solo during "Psalm 23, Psalm 2:1-4."

"That second movement was supposed to be a musical that never materialized," Desmond said. "Jonathon is a treble soloist and he's amazing."

Twenty-six members of the Huron Symphony, many of whom are from the Community/University Band, will accompany during the "Chichester Psalms."

"Being able to partner more and more with the Huron Symphony Orchestra has been an amazing addition to our music program. It's a great partnership because there are pieces they would like to perform that require vocals, and we have pieces that we would love to do that require an orchestra. This has been wonderful for us," Desmond said.

Selections from "Old American Songs" include: "The Boatman's Dance," a minstrel piece from 1843, featuring a solo by Alex Smith; "The Dodger," a campaign song, featuring Marty Haehn; "Simple Gifts," a Shaker song; a lullaby, "The Little Horses," featuring female voices; "Zion's Walls," a revivalist song featuring male vocalists; "I Bought Me a Cat," featuring Amanda Long and Erin Desmond, both of Mitchell; "The Golden Willow Tree," an Anglo-American ballad featuring Jenna Callies; "At the River," a hymn; and "Ching-a-Ring-Chaw."

Bernstein's "Psalm 108:2, Psalm 100," "Psalm 131, Psalm 133:1," and "Psalm 23, Psalm 2:1-4," featuring Freeman, will also be performed.

DWU Photo The Choral Union performs its "Salute to Broadway" concert Feb. 16 in the Sherman Center.