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SXU Women of Distinction perform April 27

“Earth, Wind, Fire and Water: In the Music of Living Composers”

Chicago (April 13, 2007) – The Saint Xavier University Women of Distinction Choral Ensemble will perform “Earth, Wind, Fire and Water: In the Music of Living Composers” at 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 27, in McGuire Hall, 3700 W. 103rd St., Chicago.

Under the direction of Jan Bickel, D.M.A., director of vocal studies at Saint Xavier University and accompanied by pianist Daniel Surma, the 16-member choral ensemble will perform Songs of the Lights by Imant Raminsh; Melodys of Earth and Sky and The Earth Sings by Stephen Paulus; three choral works by René Clausen; and four works by Gwyneth Walker. 

Songs of the Lights, composed in 1985, is a song cycle for women’s voices with vocal soloists, piano, flute, and glockenspiel accompaniment. Vocal soloists for the work will include Andrea Caruso, Kojelyte Johnson and Kathryn Mantoan and Jamie Maniatis and Justin Antos will be featured on flute and percussion. The text is based on Algonquin and Navajo texts regarding nature. Stephen Paulus’ Melodys of Earth and Sky is from a larger work entitled Songs Eternity. It is a setting of the text of 19th century British poet John Clare. Paulus sets his song cycle The Earth Sings for women’s voices, percussion and piano. 

The four works by popular Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker include a choral setting of Peace I Ask of Thee, O River, Gifts from the Sea for soprano solo, women’s voices and piano from a larger work entitled Three Days by the Sea, Now Let Us Sing! – a jazzy traditional spiritual arrangement of the words of St. Francis of Assisi, and To Sing is to Fly, a work commissioned by the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus, with lyrics by Joan Baez. This concert has something for everyone, from traditional ACappella sacred music to the jazzed up spiritual arrangement by Gwyneth Walker, and everything in between!

A professor of music at Saint Xavier, Bickel is in her 24th year as director of vocal studies at Saint Xavier University, where she founded the University Chamber Singers and its offshoot Women of Distinction choral ensemble. Singers in the ensemble were chosen for their specific vocal color or particular musicianship. Under Bickel’s direction, the choral ensembles at SXU have gained recognition in the Chicago community for presenting a wide variety of musical styles and languages, from the chants of Hildegard of Bingen to the music of living contemporary composers. 

The concert is open to the public. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and visiting students. Admission is free for all SXU students, faculty and staff with valid University ID. For more information, please contact the Saint Xavier University music department at (773) 298-3421, or view the concert schedule at www.sxu.edu/music/concerts.asp.


Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. Serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its Loop location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News & World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.

Saint Xavier University Media Relations: 773-298-3937
3700 West 103rd Street, Chicago Ill. 60655 * 18230 Orland Parkway, Orland Park, Ill. 60467
online faculty expert guide: www.sxu.edu/relations/faculty_experts.asp