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Release: Immediate

UI Old Gold Singers, alumni and area choirs will 'Swing Into Spring'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Old Gold Singers will be joined by show choirs from schools in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids and a group of alumni singers from the 1970s for their annual "Swing Into Spring" concert at 8 p.m. Friday, April 4, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The Old Gold Singers is directed by School of Music graduate assistant Bret Peppo.

The school groups appearing with the Old Gold Singers will be the Fourth Ave. Jazz Company from Iowa City High School, directed by Greg Grove; the Good Time Company from Iowa City West High School, directed by Larry Kelly; West Side Delegation from Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School, directed by Pete Ecklund, who is also a former director of the Old Gold Singers; and Sound Express from Southeast Junior High School in Iowa City, directed by Donna Wiggins.

Alumni will join the current Old Gold Singers to perform two pieces: the UI Alma Mater, a traditional part of the "Swing Into Spring" program, and "The Music, the Magic and the Memories," a piece commissioned from veteran show-choir arranger Gary Fry as a tribute to Marcia Fennema Deveraux, the Old Gold Singer's first accompanist.

Deveraux, who accompanied the group 1957-62, died of cancer in 1995. Ames businessman Carmon Slater, who had been in the Old Gold Singers with Deveraux, wanted to commission a piece in her memory. He asked other members of the group from that time period, including world-renowned opera singer Simon Estes, to help contribute to the cost of a commission.

Estes sang with the Old Gold Singers when he first came to the UI, before he decided on a career as a professional opera singer. Others joining with Estes and Slater in contributing to the commission were former Old Gold members Mary Sue Grove Hawk, John Quinn and Alan Whitworth.

In 1995 Slater contacted James Berry, who was then the conductor of the Old Gold Singers, and William Hatcher, the director of choral activities at the UI School of Music. They got in touch with Fry, a composer and arranger who also operates a commercial music studio in Chicago, and asked him to write "The Music, the Magic and the Memories," which was completed last spring.

One group of alumni who will participate in the performance are former members who were in the group between 1973 and 1976. The director at that time was Walter Lamble, who is now head of music department at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill. Members from the Walter Lamble-directed group are planning a reunion in Iowa City the weekend of the "Spring Into Spring" concert. The reunion is being organized by Mark Zimmerman of Cedar Rapids, who sang when Lamble was director.

According to Zimmerman, at least 40 former members of the group are planning to attend the reunion and participate in the concert, some from as far away as Florida and California.

Many of these alumni have copies of the "The Music, the Magic and the Memories" and a cassette tape of the piece, so that they can learn it before they come to Iowa City. However, Zimmerman said that all Old Gold alumni are welcome to take part in the concert. There will be a rehearsal for the alumni in Hancher Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. the night of the concert. Any Old Gold alumni who show up for that rehearsal will be welcome to participate, he said.

The Old Gold singers are a select musical group whose members are chosen by audition. In addition to "Swing Into Spring," their campus performances include the annual "Cocoa and Carols" and "Fall Festival" concerts, as well as a free concert of classical choral music at the end of the spring semester. The group also travels throughout Iowa, performing for schools and community groups. Most recently, they toured to New Orleans during the UI spring break. Past tours outside the state have taken them to New York, Washington, D.C., and the Bahamas.

Tickets for "Swing Into Spring" are $8 for general admission, $5 for students, seniors and youth. They may be purchased from the Hancher Auditorium Box Office.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.