Choirs from six campuses 'Raise the Song!'

When the student choirs from six Penn State campuses “raised the song!” recently in Harrisburg, it brought the University closer together for the nearly 200 singers who participated.

The two-hour concert at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts featured choirs from Penn State’s Harrisburg, Berks, Altoona, Erie, Schuylkill and University Park campuses, with each performing individually before all joined at the conclusion of the event for Mendelssohn’s “Verleih uns Frieden” (Grant Us Peace) and the Penn State Alma Mater, from which the “Raise the Song!” concert title was derived.

“I am so thrilled that multiple campuses were able to collaborate – after all, music brings people together,” said Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber, the director of the Altoona choir and assistant professor of music. “Since the University is so geographically dispersed, I think it is difficult to sometimes feel a sense of unity. Projects like this concert are definitely a step in the right direction. I would love to make this an annual event.”

The performing arts partnership was a first for both the University and Penn State Harrisburg. O. David Deitz, director of the Penn State Harrisburg choir and an organizer of the multi-campus participation said, “This was the first event of its kind in the history of the University and our college. I was all part of an effort to entertain, display the high level of talent at our locations, and to promote Penn State’s performing arts programs and opportunities.”

Director of the University Park Concert Choir, Lynn E. Drafall, echoed Deitz.

“I thought the concert went far to raise the exposure of choral singing and the arts in general across all Penn State campuses," she said. "There are wonderful singers at all of the campuses who are looking for a high-quality performance experience during their collegiate careers. My students commented on how symbolic it was for all of us to join together for the final two pieces, showing that we are all Penn State.”

“I like my choir to set goals early in the semester, and this concert was a wonderful way to do that," Cutsforth-Huber said. "Knowing that they had a performance so early in the semester helped the choir to focus quickly and to hit the ground running. My students found it interesting how each choir’s sound and repertoire were so different. They enjoyed meeting new people and collaborating together.”

Penn State’s 2009 Laureate and associate professor of music and music education in the College of Arts and Architecture, Anthony Leach, served as master of ceremonies for the concert with opening comments from Penn State Harrisburg Chancellor Madlyn L. Hanes and Whitaker Center President and CEO Michael Hanes.

Last Updated December 17, 2009