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Heralded Mansfield University Concert Choir will perform in Tarentum |

Heralded Mansfield University Concert Choir will perform in Tarentum

Debbie Black
| Tuesday, March 21, 2017 9:06 p.m
Mansfield University Concert Choir
Vince Lawrence

The touring Mansfield University Concert Choir will perform music from many cultures during a free concert at the First United Presbyterian Church in Tarentum March 26.

“The audience will be treated to many styles of music including beautiful arrangements of folk songs, spirituals and gospel songs.” says Dede Rittman, an event organizer and church choir member. “The variety of material and lively presentation of the musical selections will delight the audience.”

“The choir members are largely students from Pennsylvania, and they are mostly music education majors,” Rittman says. “Although Mansfield is the smallest of the Pennsylvania universities, it is heralded for its music education department and concert choir.”

Conducted by Peggy Dettwiler, the choir competes internationally every three years. This is a competition year. Past Mansfield choirs have won prestigious awards competing at international venues such as Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Wales and in the United States.

“The community will have an opportunity to hear a world-class university choir that is one of the ‘crown jewels’ of Pennsylvania’s system of higher education,” says Vincent Lawrence, who also helped organize the event and serves in the church’s choir.

“Hearing these musical selections in a live setting provides an emotional connection between the audience and the music,” Lawrence says. “This unique realm of human expression reaches deep into our souls to console us, to reassure us, and to help us express who we are and what we are as human beings.”

Lawrence has had a life- long dedication to music. The Brackenridge native began his musical career taking organ lessons at the church during his teenage years. He earned a degree in music from Mansfield University in 1963, taught high school choral music in Baltimore and later earned his Ph.D. in music at Case Western Reserve.

A past director of choral activities at Towson University in Baltimore, Lawrence also authored 33 music textbooks published by McGraw-Hill used in music instruction in elementary and secondary schools.

Local schools using his textbooks are Highlands, Deer Lakes and Pine Richland.

He also served in administrative leadership roles for McGraw-Hill Publishing from 1994 until his retirement in 2006. He relocated to Natrona Heights.

Lawrence and Rittman bringing the Mansfield Choir to perform is part of the church’s commitment to the Tarentum community.

“Our church is proud to be an integral part of the community,” Rittman says. “Our church enjoys serving the community through many venues, including hosting a concert of beautiful music for cultural enrichment. Music is very important in our church.”

Members of the audience are invited to a reception immediately following the performance in the church’s Fellowship Hall to meet members of the choir and Dettwiler.

Debbie Black is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: Music
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