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Ringing (and singing) in the holiday season

It's the perfect holiday gift and yet another expression of just how talented the singers who make up Indiana University's Singing Hoosiers are.

CD image - Singing Hoosiers

A critically acclaimed new CD from Maestro Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops orchestra, Christmastime is Here, features among its widely acclaimed guest artists the Singing Hoosiers, one of America's premier popular music symphonic concert choirs specializing in popular music and the music of Broadway.

The ensemble, which is directed by Michael Schwartzkopf, features collegiate performers from the world-renowned IU Jacobs School of Music, as well as students from a variety of majors. Entering their 57th year in 2007, the Singing Hoosiers have appeared with such legendary entertainers as Bob Hope, Alan Sherman, Red Buttons, Tony Bennett, Duke Ellington and Indiana's favorite son, Hoagy Carmichael. They have also performed with opera legend, IU alumna and newly appointed voice faculty member Sylvia McNair and with several major symphony orchestras around the U.S.

The Singing Hoosiers appear on five songs on Christmastime is Here, a salute to Christmas past and present, including the holiday medley Sing with Us of Christmas, as well as It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, We Need a Little Christmas, I'll Be Home for Christmas and It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.

Singing Hoosiers concert shot
The Singing Hoosiers in concert

The performances were actually recorded in 1999, but even though it took another seven years for them to finally be heard, Schwartzkopf couldn't be more delighted with the outcome. "It means so much to us," he says, adding that he knew all along that the recordings were something special.

"I remember being in the recording room in 1999 and we were all saying, 'This is really going to be good!' I remember being very excited. This is one reason why this project didn't die."

Schwartzkopf, a former Singing Hoosier himself who has directed the choir since 1995, calls the CD "another extension of the Jacobs School of Music and IU. Here we have wonderfully talented students who are eager to perform well and are keeping the tradition of 57 years going. The talent remains steady and constant, and I'm chomping at the bit to come back. (Schwartzkopf is on sabbatical this academic year.) We also have such wonderful alumni who are behind us and support us in so many different ways."

The recording, which is available through Telarc International, is one of several collaborations between the Singing Hoosiers and the Kunzel-led Cincinnati Pops. They performed together at Carnegie Hall in 1995 and appeared on a televised PBS Christmas special with Mel Torme. The musical partnership has also resulted in the release of several other recordings on the Telarc label, including the Grammy-nominated A Disney Spectacular and The Music Man.

The CD is available for purchase at http://www.telarc.com/gscripts/title.asp?gsku=0538&mscssid=GNNS077VH2AJ9HG2NPRSS0RJE8GC97EA.

For more on the Singing Hoosiers, go to http://www.indiana.edu/~singingh/index.htm.