Casey entertained by top university choir
June 12, 2009
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - Soldiers, Civilians and Family members were entertained by the concert choir of Penn State University in West Chapel May 26 on USAG-Casey and May 27 on the Village Green at USAG-Red Cloud.
The eclectic program consisted of both liturgical and secular music focusing on music of living and past black American composers, both men and women.
"Plans for coming to Korea go back to 2004," said Anthony Leach, Penn State choral music director. "I was in South Korea in July 2004 as a co-conductor of the World Youth Choir. We were based in Pusan and toured throughout Korea. Since 2006 I have been putting together the necessary resources to come back to Asia and tour not only in Korea, but Taiwan and Japan as well."
Members of the choir had to raise funds to pay for their transportation, board and lodging to support themselves during the tour.
"We sing, and that is what we do," Leach said. "We sang concerts to raise funding for each and every one of us to come on this tour. There are no other sponsors or funding from the University."
The choir has traveled outside the United States twice before, Poland and the Czech Republic in 2001 and South Africa in 2005.
The tour for 35 singers and four chaperones costs $5,000 per person and lasts 18 days incurring five flights.
"This is a reasonable figure; we stay in hotels and do not look for lodging being sponsored by those inviting us to perform." Leach said. "When we traveled in 2005 the costs were more."
The choir has a specialized repertoire.
"We do sacred and secular music from the African and African American cultural traditions," Leach said. "This means we do everything from music intended for worship services, entertainment, jazz, blues and all other forms written and improvised by Africans and African Americans throughout history."
Most of the repertoire performed by the choir was written by some who are unknown because their identities were lost in history, but their art was remembered, to classical greats from the early 20th century including Scott Joplin, James P. Johnson, and a few whom are only remembered by their contemporary compositions including Rosephanye Powell.
The choir always moves about on stage while singing, and enters the concert hall singing before taking their places on stage. Their exit is the same, shaking the hands of the audience before exiting the hall.
"We want our audiences to know they were all special to us, and we sang personally for them, before leaving," Leach said.