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Release: Nov. 16, 2001

University of Iowa Old Gold Singers present 'Cocoa and Carols' Dec. 1-2

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Familiar holiday songs, Santa Claus and hot chocolate will all be part of the event when the University of Iowa Gold Singers present their annual holiday spectacle, "Cocoa and Carols," at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

An ensemble of the UI School of Music, the Old Gold Singers will be led by UI graduate assistants Rachel Lebeck and Marc Falk. The group consists of 25 singers, plus a stage band.

This year, "Cocoa and Carols" will also feature two community groups: the Iowa City Girls' Chorus, directed by Vicki Arnold and Ann Berry; and the Newman Singers, directed by Joe Mattingly.

Traditionally one of the most popular holiday events for area audiences, "Cocoa and Carols" features holiday favorites, including well-known Christmas carols, and a perennial favorite, a "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" sing-along. As is traditional for "Cocoa and Carols," Santa will be a guest star and hot cocoa will be served to guests in the lobby after the performances.

The Old Gold Singers will present their program in three sets, with the guest groups sandwiched between. The Old Gold Singers program will be:

-- The first set, comprising "We Need A Little Christmas" "Old Fashioned Christmas Medley," "Rockin' Christmas Medley" and "Home for the Holidays Medley";

-- the second set, with the "Rudolph" sing-along, a group of songs based on African and African-American traditions and "All I Want for Christmas is You," featuring members of the group in solos and duets; and

-- the finale, with "O Holy Night," another audience sing-a-long and Leroy Anderson's holiday classic, "Sleigh Ride."

The Old Gold Singers are a select musical group whose members are chosen by audition. In addition to "Cocoa and Carols," their campus performances include the annual "Fall Festival" and "Swing Into Spring" concerts. The group also travels throughout Iowa, performing for schools and community groups. Past tours outside the state have taken them to New York, Washington, D.C., and the Bahamas.

The Newman Singers, a liturgical & concert group from the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City, Iowa, have toured the country for the past 15 years, performing contemporary liturgical music. Their 10 recorded collections of liturgical music, written by their founder and director, Joe Mattingly, are used in parishes, schools and institutions throughout the country.

According to Father Virgil Funk, president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, "The Newman Singers are a musical group who reflect the very best in American spirituality for young adults. Mattingly is one of the most successful musicians working with young adults in the United States."

Marc Falk is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in choral conducting in the UI School of Music. He received a bachelor's degree from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., and a master's degree from the University of Minnesota, where he served as assistant conductor of the Men's Chorus, Women's Chorus and Chamber Singers. Falk has toured nationally and internationally with the a cappella quartet Fourshadow, and worked as a music director, composer and performer with Nautilus Music Theater in St. Paul. He has also conducted church choirs in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Boston, and he recently served as vocal director for the University Theatres production of "O Pioneers!"

Rachel Lebeck is in the second year of a graduate program of the UI School of Music, majoring in vocal performance. She has been an oratorio soloist at the UI as well as around the state, and she was Gianetta in the past summer's production of "The Elixir of Love" by the UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater. Lebeck has a private voice studio in Cedar Rapids.

"Cocoa and Carols" tickets are $11 general admission ($7 for UI students, seniors and youth), and are available from the Hancher Auditorium box office.

Hancher box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:<>.

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <>.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.