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Alabama Southern presents tour of Britain

Staff Report

Monroeville, AL- Begin your holiday celebration with our performance of This Little Babe: A Winter’s Tour of the British Isles by attending the Alabama Southern Community College Community Chorus’ presentation of classic holiday carol’s with guest soloists, musicians and conductor Leonard Raybon, Music Director at Tulane University. Featured for the first time in Monroeville, will be tenor, Gerald Stroup and soprano, Amy Pfrimmer of Destrehan, Louisiana. Musicians of the Silverwood Quartet, of Mobile will accompany the chorus.

C. Leonard Raybon, native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is an active choral conductor, musical director, and vocal soloist and teacher.

He received a bachelor of music in music education from William Carey College, Hattiesburg, MS.

After obtaining a Rotary Ambassadorial Fellowship, he received a master of arts in music from University of York, England.

He earned his doctorate of musical arts in choral conducting from Louisiana State University, serving as a graduated student for celebrated choral conductor, Dr. Kenneth Fulton.

Raybon began his choral conducting career as a church musician at Lumberton United Methodist Church, Lumberton, MS.

He began teaching in 1993 at Gautier Middle School, Gautier, MS.

In 1995 he moved to New Orleans to serve as middle and upper school choir director for the next four years at The Louise S. McGehee School.

After obtaining his doctorate, he became the director of choral activities for Tulane University, where he continues to conduct such works as Faur/’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, and Bach’s Magnificat.

He has been a judge in choral festivals and clinician in all-parish honor choruses in Louisiana.

Also, he has been music director at Lakeview Presbyterian Church for a decade.

He is pleased to be the guest conductor for the Monroeville Community Chorus, as he has been temporarily displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Raybon is musical director and conductor for the prestigious Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre, supported for the past two years by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Raybon musically directs and conducts (with full orchestra) three shows every summer.

He received the Big Easy, Storer Boone, and Marquis awards for his musical direction of Pirates of Penzance in 2003.

In 2005, he musically directed and conducted the unprecedented and ambitious Bernstein summer, including Candide, West Side Story, and Wonderful Town.

Raybon has also musically directed for other New Orleans theatres, including Le Petite Theatre du Vieux Carr/, Southern Repertory Theatre, and True Brew Theatre.

As vocalist, Raybon often performs oratorios with such organizations as The St. Louis Cathedral Choir, New Orleans; Musica Sacra, Mobile, AL; The Baton Rouge Symphony; and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2006, he will sing the baritone solos for Faur/’s Requiem with Musica Sacra.

Raybon has also sung musical theatre roles, such as Tommy Albright (Brigadoon), and Young Joe Hardy (Damn Yankees), for Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre.

He teaches voice classes and private voice at Tulane.

Gerald Stroup, tenor, has performed with opera and oratorio companies throughout the United States and New Zealand. He has sung with the Goldovsky Opera Institute, New York Grand Opera, New Orleans Opera and the Gulf Coast Opera to name a few. Mr. Stroup has appeared soloist with the Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic and the Columbus Ohio Symphony.

He was a featured artist for the Bay of Islands Festival of the Arts in Kerikeri New Zealand for two years. Mr. Stroup performed as soloist at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. He has also appeared in lead roles with Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre, Loyola Opera, New Orleans and Gonzaga University Opera. In 2004 he sang the role of the priest in Dave Brubecks “Mass of Hope”, directed personally by Mr. Brubeck who was also the pianist on stage for the performance. His operatic roles include, The Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Tamino in Mozarts “The Magic Flute”, and Hoffmann in Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffman”. Oratorio works include Beethoven’s Symphony #9, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and “Stabat Mater” by Rossini and Dvorak, respectively. Mr. Stroup can be heard singing “Ave Maria” by Schubert on the website of novelist Anne Rice.

Delighting audiences with her “golden voiced soprano,” (The Times, New Orleans), Amy Pfrimmer’s career highlights include her debut with L’Op/ra de Montr/al (The Rape of Lucretia), engagements with the New Orleans Opera (Das Rheingold and

Don Carlo), Florida Grand Opera (L’incoronazione di Poppea, Cosi fan Tutte, La Serva Padrona and The Rape of Lucretia), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Messiah and Wachet Auf), Memphis Symphony Orchestra (Beethoven’s 9th Symphony), Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (Mozart Requiem, Carmina Burana, Judas Maccabeaus, Messiah and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony) , Opera Birmingham (Micaela and Musetta), Ohio Light Opera (Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Lisa in Das Land des Lchelns, Rose Maurrant in Street Scene, as well as the leading roles in Romberg’s Maytime and Friml’s Rose-Marie), Virginia Opera (Gretel in Hansel und Gretel), Shreveport Opera (Adina and Musetta), Michigan’s Opera Grand Rapids (Musetta), and Florida’s Pensacola Opera (as the title characters in La Traviata and Die Lustige Witwe). Outside of the operatic arena, Pfrimmer’s successes include her New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival appearance with the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in Brubeck’s classical jazz mass To Hope! Other concert and orchestral engagements include appearances with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, New World Symphony, Miami Chamber Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Baton Rouge Symphony, New Orleans Symphony Chorus, Houston’s Orchestra X and New Jersey’s Ocean City Pops.

Pfrimmer attracted considerable attention as a national finalist of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions. The awards she has received include a fellowship from Louisiana Division of the Arts, a study grant from the Metropolitan Opera’s Education Fund, and the Florida Grand Opera’s Gilbert Artist award (Drusilla in L’incoronazione di Poppea). Additionally, she is currently Artist in Residence at the University of West Florida and Pfrimmer was heard as the vocalist in Target’s nationally televised ClubWedd commercial called Dare Devil.

Amy’s next appears with the London Symphony Orchestra and Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz with the Dave Brubeck Family Quartet in Brubeck’s Christmas cantata La Fiesta de la Posada.

During the past decade the Silverwood Quartet has brought their fresh and innovative approach to chamber music to enthusiastic audiences throughout the United States and Japan. Although their standard instrumentation is flute, violin, viola, and cello, a typical performance by this versatile ensemble will include a kaliedescope of instrumental colors. A variety of flutes, whistles and recorders, Celtic Harp, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, guitar, Coral sitar, and an array of percussion instruments could be featured in one of Silverwood’s unique arrangements. Add to that an eclectic mix of musical styles from around the world and across the centuries played with artistry and passion and you have an unforgettable concert experience that will move and delight one and all!

Andra Bohnet (flute) and Tom Morley (violin) are founding members of the quartet, which began in 1996, and Jonathan Clark (viola) was added in 2000. The addition of Barbara Gabriel (cello) in 2003 has stimulated the group into an unsurpassed level of artistry and creativity. In addition to their concert appearances, the ensemble has recorded five CDs (so far!) which have been featured on public radio stations throughout the U.S. and have been downloaded throughout the world.

The newest project of the group is The Classic Rock Album, which was released in April 2005. No elevator music here! The quartet has captured the “essence” of what makes tunes by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, Moody Blues, Yes, and other rock groups of the 60s and 70s tick in their original versions. If you know the original, you can sing along! Regarding this album, rock icon Ian Anderson, flutist and leader of Jethro Tull said, “Many thanks for the CD. I enjoyed it very much and especially the variety of musical styles it incorporated. Keep up the good work and help bring the worlds of pop/rock and the Classical traditions together.”

In November 2004, the quartet released To Drive the Cold Winter Away, a stunning collection of works that reflect an older, earthier and simpler view of Christmas, winter, and the holiday season. The repertoire ranges from classical (Andra’s virtuosic rendition of Vivaldi’s Winter Concerto) to Celtic (Loreena McKennitt’s The Mummer’s Dance, their best seller on iTunes) to early music influences (Brian Joyce’s Hear Ye News Today, where the quartet members double as percussionists). “The Silverwood Quartet is an extraordinary chamber ensemble presenting a most exquisite instrumental treatment of classical holiday fare.” The interactions of flute, harp and cello, violin and viola are pure magic. The intense beauty of songs like Taladh Chriosda (Christ Child Lullaby), The Wexford Carol, and so many others can bring tears to your eyes. Then the percussive explosions on Masters In This Hall bring you to your feet.” (Christmasreviews.com).

Because there is not much existing literature for flute, violin, viola and cello, the quartet has actively created and commissioned a wealth of unique repertoire and is constantly working on new projects. Flutist Andra Bohnet is the group’s primary arranger, but the ensemble frequently collaborates in the creative process collectively as well. Silverwood has also commissioned new works from composers Kris Wilkinson, Gary Schocker, David Ott and Brian Joyce. The ensemble was also the centerpiece for a unique commission honoring the Tricentennial of the City of Mobile from the American Composers Forum, Museum Loan Network, Mobile Symphony Orchestra and Mobile Museum of Art. The resuting final work, Structures by composer William Banfield, showcased the Silverwood Quartet as soloists in a quadruple concerto with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra in October 2003.

The performance will take place Friday, December 9, at 7:00 pm at the Nettles Auditorium on the Monroeville campus of Alabama Southern Community College.

There is no admission for the concert, so please join us for this holiday classic.

For more information concerning the Community Chorus, contact Dot Stewart at (251) 743-3001.

For more information concerning this press release, contact Stephanie Etheredge at (251) 575-3156, ext: 265.