SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -The 'Big Easy' and 'Birthplace of Jazz," also known as New Orleans, will host another group of musicians next month ¬- the Slippery Rock University Flute Choir.
The choir, directed by Stacey Steele, SRU assistant professor of music, earned an invitation to perform during the Aug. 8-11 National Flute Association Annual Convention. Organizers bill the event as the largest flute convention in the country, with more than 100 solo and choir recitals by students and professionals, master classes and exhibits galore.
SRU's 15 flutists will premiere two compositions, including "Jax Mechanique," written by Stephen Barr, SRU assistant professor of music, and inspired by Jack's Brewery in New Orleans. Jamison Lopochonsky, a music major from Greenville, David Glover, SRU associate professor of music, and Kim Glover, music education teacher at Norwin High School, will accompany the group. The group will debut a new flute arrangement of "Serenade" by the late Edward Elgar, followed by "Mississippi River Suite."
Barr will conduct the group during his composition, with Steele conducting the other scores.
Steele and Kathy Melago, assistant professor of music, will perform as part of the Pittsburgh Professional Flute Choir. The theme of the conference is "Confluence of Cultures and Perseverance of Spirit."
"New Orleans is the musical capital of the world, and the flute choir earned an invitation," Steele said. "I am incredibly proud of them. They worked really hard."
Steele said the group received a summons after submitting a CD and performance plan for presenting new music, which is one of the entry requirements.
Students will take the stage Aug. 10 but will return to campus three days before they leave for New Orleans to rehearse, Steele said.
"I am very proud to be a part of the SRU Flute Choir, and it is a great opportunity for us to get to perform in New Orleans," said Lauren Rieger, a music education major from St. Charles, Mo. "I am more excited than nervous. I am always a little nervous when it comes to performing for large crowds like this, but this is an incredibly exciting opportunity."
An appearance of this magnitude, Rieger said, improves musicianship because participants will meet and attend seminars given by some of the nation's top flutists. Like a tennis player competing against a better player, being around superior musicians inspires a higher standard, said Rieger, who plans to become an elementary school teacher, but also would like to own a studio for piano and flute students.
Rebecca McGann, a music and theatre major from Berwick who has been playing flute for 10 years, described the invite as an "incredible honor."
"When Mrs. Steele announced that we would be performing, we all cheered and celebrated," she said. "It is such an honor for us to be able to perform there, especially since it's an event dedicated to the love of music and flutes. I am so incredibly excited for what I'll learn, see and experience at this national event."
McGann said she is proud to represent the University in Louisiana.
"Performing is such a rush of emotion, especially in a group of people as close as we all are," she said. "There are nervous feelings because you're afraid that you'll mess up or that a song won't go as well as the group wants it to. But then, once you get on that stage and start making incredible music, all the bad feelings seem to fade away. You concentrate on what you're doing, what the group is doing and what the conductor is doing. When that happens, all that's left is the bond that everyone has with each other over our mutual love of music."
She said that as a group, the student musicians click.
"That is one of the reasons why we were invited to perform," McGann said. "The convention will help me grow as a musician in a few ways. I'll get to learn more about the flute itself from experts who will be at the convention. I'll get to watch other groups perform and see how they create music. From the performances I'll be involved in, I'll get to learn more about performing for a large audience and about how the SRU Flute Choir works as a group. We're constantly learning and evolving as musicians, and this event is a giant crash course in many things."
McGann said she plans a career in her two passions, music and theatre, hoping to work as a musical director for a theatre company.
"I'll grow as a performer by becoming comfortable performing in front of professionals and showing a mature and professional attitude," said Katie Patterson, a music education major from Monaca. I'll grow as a musician by just loving the music I play and sharing it with others. Ill also grow by watching and listening to others as they perform or speak. You can learn so much from others if you just take the time to listen."
The other student performers are Katherine Taylor, an English major from Allison Park, and music majors Alicia Cersosimo of McKees Rocks; Jessica Davis of Sarver; Kelsey Eisenhauer of Leola; Breanna Ferchak of Venetia; Paula Hartsough of Youngstown, Pa.; Dana Jacoby of Delran, N.J.; Cassie Maloney of West Mifflin; Kristina Simer of Concord, Ohio; Katherine Taylor of Gibsonia and Carrie Wolfe of Greensburg.
The National Flute Association, founded in 1972, includes more than 6,000 members and promotes higher standard of flute education and performance.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.