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Masterworks Chorale to hold January 5 and 8 auditions for Appalachian folk work

ISSUED: 21 December 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Masterworks Chorale will be holding auditions on Friday, January 5, and Monday, January 8, for the Saturday, April 21, 2018, performance of Scott Gendel’s “Barbara Allen,” a new work based on the Appalachian folk tune.

Masterworks Chorale is looking for tenors and basses in particular, but auditions are open to all voices and consist of vocal exercises and sight-reading. Singers should prepare a short piece in advance, preferably a classical or folk song, to be sung without accompaniment that shows off their voice.

“Barbara Allen,” the oratorio, premiered earlier this year in California and this will be the first performance of the piece in the Appalachian region. Gendel says of his work, “The traditional oratorio takes a Biblical text and expands it into a grandiose musical work, employing vocal soloists, choir, and orchestra to take that basic story and turn it into something so theatrical it often verges on Grand Opera, but without the staging.”

Masterworks Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Rachel Carlson, assistant professor of music, meets Monday evenings from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the Frank Center rehearsal hall. The 100-member ensemble, made up of Shepherd vocal students and members from the community, presents two full-length concerts per year of great masterpieces from the choral literature with soloists and orchestra.

Carlson is director of choral activities at Shepherd and conductor of the Shepherd University Chamber Singers, Women’s Camerata, and Masterworks Chorale. Carlson founded and serves as artistic director of Six Degree Singers, a community choir based in Silver Spring, Maryland, and serves as assistant conductor of the Washington Master Chorale. In 2014, Carlson was nominated for a Wammie (Washington Area Music Award) for best Classical Conductor/ Director. Carlson has toured extensively with professional choirs across the country, appearing as a soprano soloist with the Washington Master Chorale, Washington Bach Consort, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Oregon Bach Festival, True Concord Voices and Orchestra, Vox Humana, and Washington Revels, and as a professional choral singer with Conspirare and the Manhattan Chorale.

Rehearsals begin on Monday, January 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Frank Center McCoy Rehearsal Hall. For more information or to schedule an audition, contact Carlson at 304-876-5371 or

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