February 19, 2024
In the World

A Musical Tradition

Wittenberg Choir To Embark on Annual Spring Concert Tour

The Wittenberg Choir is set to resume its Spring Concert Tour, Feb. 23-27. One of the most traveled college choral groups in the United States, this year’s group will share its collective passion for music in three states. The trip will also be part of the University’s FIRE Week (Focused, Integrated, Reflective Experiences), serving as experiential learning for the singers. All events are free and open to the public.

“We will be performing for ELCA congregations in Indianapolis and the Chicago area, as well as for high schools in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois,” said Libby Hainrihar, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at Wittenberg. “This is the first Witt Choir tour in several years, and 22 singers will be traveling along with collaborative pianist, Laurie Smith, and myself. We are thrilled to serve as ambassadors for the University. This is the first choir tour since 2020. Prior to that time, it was a tradition for the choir to tour annually. The plan is to reinstate the annual tour moving forward.” 

Under the direction of Hainrihar, the choir will begin the tour with a home performance in collaboration with the Symphonic Band at Weaver Chapel at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22. There will be eight total performances with the final stop being at Charleston High School in Charleston, Illinois. The 22 students touring come from a variety of majors and backgrounds on campus.

The program on tour will feature a wide variety of music including Amezaliwa Tushangilie!, Robert Jim Begisen (b. 1966) with soloist Braeden Carey, class of 2025 from Springfield, Ohio, and percussionist Olivia Clayton, class of 2024 from Howard, Ohio; Salutation, Eriks Esenvalds (b. 1977), Ave Verum Corpus, William Byrd (c. 1540–1623), Ave Maria, Michael John Trotta (b. 1978), with soloist Sarah White, class of 2026 from Pickerington, Ohio; Verleih uns Frieden, Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847), Ed. John Rutter (b. 1945); When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Gilbert M. Martin (b. 1941); Music in the Air, African American Spiritual, Arr. Ryan Murphy (b. 1971); Come To the Water, John B. Foley (b. 1939), Arr. Jack Schrader (b. 1942); Hope Lingers On, Lissa Schneckenburger, Arr. Andrea Ramsey (b. 1977); All Together We Are Love, Katerina Gimon (b. 1993); and The Benediction, Knut Nystedt (1915–2014).

On Sunday, Feb. 25, the group will do a special afternoon performance at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois. The choir will be performing a composition titled That Would Be the Day! by Phil Spencer, Wittenberg class of 1975, who will also serve as the guest conductor for that piece. Spencer’s philanthropic choir, NaperVoice, will join Wittenberg’s choir in the selection, as well.

Spencer has enjoyed a career that spans 40+ years as a full-time professional musician, including the roles of award-winning educator and composer, conductor of choral ensembles in the United States and Europe, church musician, and concert organist and harpsichordist. In 2021, he conceived the idea for NaperVoice, a philanthropic choir composed of both professional and auditioned amateur singers based in Naperville, Illinois, the city where he and wife Pamela (Gunsaullus) Spencer, Wittenberg class of 1975, have resided since 1994.

Also in 2021, Spencer was named Professor Emeritus of Music at Joliet Junior College, where for 20 years he conducted the college’s choral ensembles and taught applied and class voice, harpsichord, and world music. Before that, he was chair of the music department and director of choral activities at Grand View University (ELCA), Des Moines, Iowa, as well as a full-time church musician in several large congregations in Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois. In addition, Spencer was the founding conductor of the Lutheran Youth Choir International; founding artistic director of the Festival of Global Vocal Music at Mansfeld Castle in Mansfeld, Germany; and founding conductor of the Edina Chorale, one of the Minneapolis area’s finest community-based choral ensembles. In 2011, Spencer was named recipient of the annual Saint Genesius Award by Lewis University “for extraordinary achievement in choral music and music education.”

Earning his bachelor’s degree in music from Wittenberg, Spencer also holds a master’s degree in music from the Yale University School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music. He completed an additional academic year of music study in Berlin, Germany, and pursued doctoral work in choral conducting at the University of Iowa.

As a composer, Spencer was awarded First Prize in the prestigious Roger Wagner International Choral Composition Contest at California State University at Los Angeles, was a finalist in the Ithaca College Choral Composition Contest, and was the winner of the Illinois Chapter, American Choral Directors Association Choral Composition Contest in both 2014 and 2022. His compositions have been published by Augsburg Fortress Press and Choristers Guild.

The Wittenberg Choir 2024 Spring Tour is as follows:

  • Thursday, Feb. 22 (Concert with the Symphonic Band
    7:30 p.m.: Weaver Chapel
    Wittenberg University
  • Friday, Feb. 23
    8 a.m.: Fairborn High School, Fairborn, Ohio
    11:10 a.m.: Pike High School, Indianapolis, Indiana
    7 p.m. Evening performance: Resurrection Lutheran Church
    445 East Stop 11 Road, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Saturday, Feb. 24
    7 p.m. Evening performance: Augustana Lutheran Church
    5500 S. Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, Illinois
  • Sunday, Feb. 25
    4 p.m. Afternoon performance: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
    815 S. Washington St., Naperville, Illinois
  • Monday, Feb. 26
    7 p.m. Evening performance: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
    611 Randolph Street, Oak Park, Illinois
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27
    4 p.m. Afternoon performance: Charleston High School
    Charleston, Illinois

For more information about upcoming music-related events, please visit www.wittenberg.edu/music/events.

Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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