Enjoy Christmas at the Motherhouse with USF

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Music & Performing Arts Department presents Christmas at the Motherhouse: From Darkness to Light at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 in St. Joseph Chapel in the Motherhouse on the main USF campus in Joliet (520 Plainfield Road). USF’s own Claritas Master Chorale and Schola Cantorum will join forces to sing traditional works by J.S. Bach, Holst, and newer works by Susan Labarr and others. 

Tickets are free of charge. To reserve your tickets, please email kjimenez@stfrancis.edu.  Due to COVID restrictions, tickets are limited to four per party and will be available only on a first-come, first-served basis.  Proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test from within 72 hours of the event will be required for entry to the performance.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF, ACDA to Host Music and Social Justice Presentation on April 5

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Music and Performing Arts Department and the Illinois chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) will host Jason Max Ferdinand, DMA, for a special virtual presentation and discussion on the intimate connections between music and social justice in a session for choral directors, students, and the community on Monday, April 5 at 7 p.m. CDT.

Ferdinand’s book, “Teaching with Heart: Tools for Addressing Societal Challenges through Music”, will serve as platform for the discussion, which will delve into Ferdinand’s experiences as conductor of the Aeolians of Oakwood University and as an agent for cultural change.

Paul Laprade, USF Music and Performing Arts Department chair, said the presentation and discussion hold a special significance within the USF choral curriculum.

“We have been among the first schools to incorporate Dr. Ferdinand’s work into our choral curriculum this year, so this is a special honor for all of us.  The ACDA grant, which has made this event possible, supports the costs of hosting, advertising, and bringing Dr. Ferdinand–a 2020 Grammy nominee for his choral work–to our classroom and to the wider ACDA organization,” Laprade said.

To sign up for the event, visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0C48AAAF2FA0FEC52-drjason or contact Paul Laprade, USF Music and Performing Arts Department chair, at plaprade@stfrancis.edu for more information.

About Jason Max Ferdinand

Jason Max Ferdinand is the director of choral activities, professor, and chair of the music department at Oakwood University. He directs the Aeolians of Oakwood University and, as evidenced by noteworthy awards, has distinguished himself on the national and international choral stages.  In 2017, he earned the Outstanding Director and Choir of the World awards at the Llangollen International Musical Festival, in Wales. In 2018, his choir won three gold medals at the 10th World Choir Games held in South Africa, and also won the competition’s overall championship in both the Spirituals and University Choir categories. He is a published composer with GIA publications, and is exhilarated about  his new choral series with Walton Music. In 2018, he was named “Teacher of the Year” by Oakwood University. The Aeolians made their first appearance at the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in 2019 and the term “they broke ACDA” was used to describe their outstanding presentation. “Teaching with Heart” is a new book released by Ferdinand and is a useful choral compendium for all choral directors. Ferdinand holds non-terminal degrees from Oakwood University, Morgan State University, and a doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Maryland.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Virtual Rehearsal for USF Choirs Welcomes Renowned Composer Elaine Hagenberg

Joliet, Ill. – As the University of St. Francis (USF) continues its administration of courses in an online format this spring semester in response to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the important role played by technology is clear. However, the use of technology is not limited to just the classroom. USF’s Schola Cantorum and Claritas Master Chorale are using virtual meetings as a way to rehearse. Recently, renowned composer Elaine Hagenberg joined one of these rehearsals.

“This activity was one of many that have been created as a means to create meaningful experience to replace choir rehearsals canceled in light of COVID-19,” said Paul Laprade, USF Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities.

During the session, Hagenberg discussed the art of singing, composing, choral music, careers in music, aesthetics, music publishing, and many other topics. According to Laprade, Hagenberg was an obvious choice to invite as a guest for the one-hour session. 

“Schola was acquainted with Hagenberg’s music, having sung her fine arrangement of ‘Wexford Carol’ for our last Christmas in the Motherhouse concert in early December,” Laprade said.

Laprade also said that Hagenberg’s path to where she is today would resonate with the members of his choirs.

“Elaine only decided to start composing six years ago, after earning her degree and then raising her family of four.  I felt she was a fine example of someone whose career trajectory was not linear, but who explored many directions before finding her true place–our students can learn that success is often found in an unexpected place during one’s life search,” Laprade added.

Although nothing can fully replace in-person rehearsals, Laprade believes there is a positive aspect to how his students are responding to current challenges.

“Our students have been learning a great deal about the arts and real world applications in these moments. The experience this opportunity presented was a rich success for our class,” he said.

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Choral Director to Co-Direct JoyFest in Rockford on October 4 and 5

Joliet, Ill. – The Illinois-American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA) and the Music Department at the University of St. Francis (USF) proudly present JoyFest, an event for directors and singers in which gospel, spirituals, and traditional music will be used as a vehicle for bridging cultures, communities, and approaches to meaningful music making. The event will be held at SecondFirst Church, which is located at 318 North Church Street in Rockford, Ill.

USF’s Director of Choral Activities, Paul Laprade (Illinois-ACDA) and conductor Donald Dumpson (founding conductor of the Westminster Choir College Jubilee Singers) join together to create this communal event of music making, community bridging, and sharing. JoyFest will extend Dumpson’s successful work in creating new communities through choral music to the greater Illinois community, share some of his favorite works, and lead to an afternoon concert of joy and sharing.

“JoyFest is intended to create community and shared experiences through choral music, with an eye toward bringing people from diverse socio-economic, racial, and ethnic heritages together in a joyful experience.  I have been honored to work with Dr. Dumpson on this project for over a year, and the genesis of this event is watched carefully by many,” Laprade said.

JoyFest will begin with a communal meal at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct 4. Choral singers and directors can attend the meal at 6 p.m., come for the first rehearsal at 7 p.m., or simply participate in Saturday’s rehearsals (9 a.m. – 3 p.m., with lunch).  The event will conclude with a celebratory concert at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5. Suggested donations for participation include $25 per director, $10 per choir member, $10 per person for the optional Friday evening dinner and $5 per person for the Saturday lunch. Registration forms and payment are due September 30.  Visit www.il-acda.org/events/joyfest to register. For more information, contact Paul Laprade at plaprade@stfrancis.edu.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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