Kennesaw State Men’s Ensemble selected for national convention

Ensemble has historic opportunity to perform next year

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Jefferson Johnson,

nationally known choral director, with the KSU Men's Ensemble

KENNESAW, Ga. (November 5, 2012)
In March 2013, the Kennesaw State University Men's Ensemble will take center stage when it travels to Dallas, Texas, to perform at the National American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Convention. The national convention is equivalent to a team making it to the Final Four National Championships, explains Leslie J. Blackwell, director of choral activities at KSU and conductor of the Men's Ensemble.

“It is really on that level," she explains. "We are the ‘Cinderella’ team that gets invited to the Ball. This is an amazing opportunity for our students and our university.” The KSU Men’s Ensemble was selected through a blind audition that was judged by a panel of nationally recognized peers and choral conductors in the field and submissions included a scope of three years of performances and recordings.    

Leslie J. Blackwell, director of choral activities at KSU

The Men's Ensemble was formed in 1999-2000 with a handful of men and is now primarily a non-major ensemble comprised of 46 men, from freshmen to seniors. The ensemble recently performed at the 2012 Georgia Music Educators Association Conference in Savannah, Georgia.This ACDA Convention will put KSU on a national scene, which “most schools never get a chance to experience.” According to Blackwell, approximately 250 choirs submitted for the convention and the KSU Men’s Ensemble is believed to be the only male collegiate choir chosen for the honor this year.


In preparation for their national debut, the group hosted a workshop in Sept. with guest conductor Jefferson Johnson, director of choral activities at the University of Kentucky. Under the direction of Johnson the University of Kentucky Men’s Choir previously was selected to perform at both the National and Southern Divisional ACDA Conventions.

The KSU Men’s Ensemble is also scheduled to sing during a performance by the KSU Choral Ensembles on Feb. 26, 2013 at 8 p.m. in Morgan Hall in the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center. The Feb. concert will serve as a preview concert for the national convention a month later in Dallas. The performance will open with Gaudete, a tune based on a medieval chant with added percussion described as metallic and edgy. The ensemble will also perform J. Aaron McDermid’s traditional Irish folk tune, Come Sing to Me of Heaven. The next selection will feature solo violin performed by Edward Eanes, associate professor of music history at KSU on a cycle of Czech Folk Songs by Zdenêk Lukáš. David Conte’s “Drinking Song,” (“Vinum Bonum”) from Carmina Juventutis will follow with piano four-hands played by accompianist Sherri N. Barrett and KSU student Hunter Young.


One of many highlights of the evening will be Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s guest appearance and improvisational performance of his Ubi Caritas.  “This is a special and very rare honor to have the composer perform with the choir on an entirely improvisational piano accompaniment,” Blackwell says. Offering an additional unique, cultural performance, the final piece will feature Ethan Sperry’s Pyè Aleman, a Haitian song based on the traditions of vodou and christianity from West Africa.


Tickets for the Choral Ensembles concert featuring the KSU Men's Ensemble's performance on Feb. 26 are $10 for general admission and $8 for KSU students, alumni and faculty. For more information, visit the KSU box office or call 770-423-6650.


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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,100 students from more than 130 countries.

The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts departments.


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