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Bisonettes to Present 'Swimming Against Tide' Concert April 24

April 20, 2012

"The music written for women's voices is often plain and safe, protected from risk and following tried and true paths," Dr. James Vernon, professor of music and conductor of the group, wrote in the program notes for the evening's performance. "The composers, writers and poets of tonight's program offer us a different view of the possibilities of the collaboration between the music, the audience and the women's choir."

The first portion of the program will include "Magnificat," a work composed by Vernon with text from the Gospel of Luke and featuring Bisonettes members Dana Clark on glockenspeil, Sara Elliott on conga drums and Erica Robinson on suspended cymbal. Bisonettes member Courtney Bryant, a senior from Moore, Okla., will conduct the group in "Mary Speaks," featuring text by Madeleine L'Engle.

The second portion of the program features works by Charles Loeffler, a German-born composer who aligned himself with French music from an early age. His musical voice reflects his determination to rid himself of Germanic influence. Becoming an American citizen in 1887, he considered himself an American composer of French influence. The presentation features Chelsea Bushong on harp; Dr. Mary Chung, assistant professor of music, on piano; Thresa Swadley on cello; and Bisonettes members Chelsea McQuigg and Robin Blanchard on flutes.

The third portion of the program features a variety of works by contemporary composers including Gwyneth Walker, who sacrificed a prestigious teaching position to compose music and operate a dairy farm in Connecticut. Kat Hunter, a senior from Owasso, Okla., will direct the group in Walker's "To Sing is to Fly," featuring Bisonettes member Lauren Cooper on piano. Stephanie Marchbanks, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., will conduct the group in "Only Time" by Kirby Shaw, featuring Chelsea Bushong on harp and Bisonettes member Kathleen Thompson on viola.

The concert will include "Sail Away" by Dalglish, featuring Dr. Kristen Stauffer Todd, chair of the OBU Division of Music and professor of music and humanities, on a hammered dulcimer handcrafted by V.H. Haywood. The final song will be "An Old Gaelic Prayer" by Heck.

"'Swimming Against the Tide' is a program which we proudly present, hoping it accurately portrays not only the music and texts, but the experiences and aspirations of the musicians on stage," Vernon said.

The Bisonettes include some of the finest vocal musicians on the OBU campus. The group was organized in 1954 by Warren M. Angell, then dean of the College of Fine Arts. Members are selected by audition and represent a number of academic areas of the University. Membership also reflects a diversity of geography, including members from Texas, Kansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois and North Carolina. The group performs at many churches, schools, and campus events, as well as staging tours throughout the country.

Taylor Thompson, a sophomore from Shawnee, Okla., serves as accompanist for the Bisonettes.

Vernon has served OBU since 1990 as an instructor in choral music, music theory and music composition. He earned degrees from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and he has done additional study at the University of North Texas. He has been the director of the Bisonettes since 2010.

For more information about the concert or the Bisonettes, contact the OBU Division of Music at (405) 878-2305.