The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 12, 2004

Old Gold Singers And Iowa City Girls Chorus Celebrate The Holidays Dec. 4

"Cocoa and Carols," the annual holiday extravaganza of the University of Iowa Old Gold Singers, will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 in Hancher Auditorium. Featuring a popular audience sing-along, an appearance by Santa Claus and hot cocoa served in the lobby after the performance, "Cocoa and Carols" has been a UI tradition for more than 40 years.

The Iowa City Girls Chorus under the direction of IU alumna Ann Berry will join the Old Gold Singers on the program, and a brass choir from Kalona will perform traditional carols in the lobby before and after the performance.

An ensemble of the UI School of Music, the Old Gold Singers will be led by UI graduate assistant Michael Reese. The group consists of 28 singers, plus a 10-member instrumental group.

The Old Gold Singers will open their performance with a set featuring lesser-known selections from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, along with a few 1980s songs about love. The set includes arrangements by Reese as well as UI music alumnus Pete Eklund, who is currently teaching at the University of Nebraska.

The seasonal part of their program will feature both traditional and unfamiliar Holiday songs, including "Away in a Manger," "The Carol of the Bells," "African Noel" and "Of the Father's Love Begotten." In addition, "We Need a Little Christmas" and "Swingin' at Santa's Place" will be presented with choreography.

The Iowa City Girls Chorus will sing "Gloria Deo!" by Mary Lynn Lightfoot, "Al Shlosha D'Varim" by Allan E. Naplan and the traditional spiritual "Animals A-Comin'," arranged by Jim Swofford.

The costumes and sets for "Cocoa and Carols" were renovated just two years ago. The renovation -- courtesy of the Division of Performing Arts Production Unit and production manager Rick Loula -- features sets and costumes designed by Margaret Wenk and lighting by Casey Martin, former technical director of Hancher Auditorium.

The Old Gold Singers are a select musical group whose members are chosen by audition. The group 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.

In his first year as director of the OGS, Reese is a UI doctoral student in choral conducting. He spent eight years in the Cedar Rapids Public Schools, including six as director of the "West Side Delegation" at Jefferson High School. Under his direction, "West Side Delegation" received either first runner-up or grand champion honors for Best Vocals, Best Choreography and Best Band at competitions in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Reese served on the board of the Iowa Choral Director's Association from 1996 to 2003. He has served as Fall Student Symposium Chair, Youth Choir Clinic Coordinator, Choral Selection Committee Member, Choral Composition Committee Member, Reading Session Chair for the 2002 NCACDA Convention in Des Moines and recently completed his second term as repertoire and standards chair for Male Choirs in Iowa.

A former member of the Old Gold Singers, Berry is in her eighth year as director of the Iowa City Girls Choir. She has been choreographing for show choirs, musicals, dinner theatres and community groups through out the Midwest for 15 years. She is in her 11th year of judging show choirs at contests in Iowa and Wisconsin. A member of her local church choir, she sings at local weddings and other events.

"Cocoa and Carols" tickets are $11 general admission ($8 for UI students, seniors and youth), and are available from the Hancher Auditorium Box Office. Hancher Auditorium 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.

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

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,

PHOTOS are available at