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ASU Concert Choir and Community Chorus make music in Italy

April 13, 2010 -- The ASU Concert Choir and Community Chorus made their Italian debut in Florence, Italy, March 21, after six months of rehearsDr. Dale Miller directs the ASU choir in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome.als, an on-campus performance in Fowler Center, time logged in three  airport terminals, and a five-hour bus ride.

Dr. Dale Miller, choir director and professor of music at ASU, directed the 50-voice choir in performances in Florence, Siena, Rome and the Vatican. Choir members raised the money themselves to fund the trip. The choir consisted of 32 students and 18 community singers.

“We would start each performance with music written specifically for churches and cathedrals that were in use in the 1500s,” said Miller. “These would include ‘O Bone Jesu’ and selections from the ‘Missa Brevis’ by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1535-1594). Then we would transition to spirituals and contemporary music written by Norman Luboff, Moses Hogan, Rene Clausen and Randy Stonehill.  The final selection of each performance was ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You’ by Peter C. Lutkin.”

The Florence performance was on Sunday, March 21, at Santa Maria de Ricci, a church built in 1508. The performance was part of the American Celebration of Music in Italy.

The ASU choir, under the direction of Dr. Dale Miller, performs in the Florentine church of Santa Maria de Ricci.

The choir left Jonesboro March 18th and arrived in Rome the next day. A chartered bus took them to Florence, where they settled into a hotel and began sightseeing tours with local tour guides. The tours included the Duomo--a cathedral that took 170 years to build—plus the Academia  (Academy of Fine Arts), where they saw Michelangelo’s David and other sculptures by the great masters. Other tours included the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous museums in the world for paintings and sculptures.

“In addition to the singing experience, it was a wonderful opportunity to
Choir members sing  in Rome's Santa Maria sopra Minerva. study the Renaissance period close up,” said Miller. “The students got to see a collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings from universally acclaimed masters of all time.”

The choir traveled to Siena the following day and sang at the Siena Duomo, a highly ornate cathedral built in the 13th century. The visit to Siena also included walking tours of the city, including the Piazza del Campo, and the town hall. Following the tours, choir members loaded the bus and traveled to Rome.

In Rome, the students were treated to guided tours of religious Rome, featuring the Vatican, the home of the Pope, and the center of Roman Catholicism, as well as the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel, featuring Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco and “The Last Judgment.” They also viewed the Pantheon--built more than 1800 years ago and symbol of the Roman Empire—the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain. Additional tours were of Imperial Rome, including the entrance to the Roman Forum and the Coliseum.

Performances in Rome were at the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a church which was founded in 1280 and is the only Gothic church in Rome, and in a mass at St. Peters Basilica.

“This was a cultural experience as much as a musical one,” said Miller. “It was an opportunity for our students to sing in some of the biggest Christian churches in the world in settings and church buildings in which many of the musical selections would have been performed during the sixteenth century. For many of us it was an once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The choir returned to Jonesboro on March 26.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Dale Miller ( at (870) 972-2094.

The choir masses in Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

--release and photographs by Markham Howe,
executive director, Office of Public Relations, ASU

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