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GSU's Fourth Annual Night of Opera to be held Friday

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    From Knoxville, Tennessee to Tallahasse, Florida, alumni are coming in to perform at Georgia Southern University's Fourth Annual Night of Opera. The concert will be held Friday at Trinity Episcopal Church starting at 7:30 p.m.
    The theme is "A Night of American Music." Spanning shows from "Into the Woods," "The King and I" to "Candide" and "Oklahoma," the night promises to be a stellar concert.
    Dr. Arikka Gregory, Director of Georgia Southern Opera and Assistant Professor of Voice, said the concert is geared to opera newcomers and officianados alike.
    "This program is very audience friendly because we've chosen American music, so everything is in English," said Gregory. "As a result, there's no language barrier and there's no reading translations when you'd rather be looking at the singers. We have a mix of operatic excerpts and Broadway musicals so that there's different genres to keep it interesting for the listener."
    Many of the alumni are traveling from out of state. Gregory said this is indicative of the love and support they have for the program.
    "People traveling from so far, guests being willing to learn music in a week and even a resigned faculty member who's willing to come back and sing, just indicates the spirit of the event. It is a very supportive atmosphere for Georgia Southern Opera, a love for GSU Opera, a belief in the opera program and a desire to sing together with colleagues of a high caliber."
    All the performers are affiliated with GSU. Some are alumni of the music program, some are current professors and some are related to the faculty.
    The alumni include Heidi Bindhammer, Ginny Estep, Jonathan Murphy, Alysa Smith, Jamie White and Tina Zenker-Williams. Bindhammer, Smith, White and Zenker-Williams all received their master's degrees in Vocal Performance from GSU. Estep and Murphy received bachelor's degrees in Vocal Performance.
    Also featured in the performance are Kyle Hancock, Sarah Hancock, Allen Henderson, Diane Ricks and Arikka Gregory — all current vocal faculty at GSU. Ricks also received her master's degree from Georgia Southern. Maureen Simpson is a former GSU faculty member and is currently Director of Music at a large catholic church in South Carolina.
    Two local individuals will also be performing. Michelle Murray, a soprano, is a veteran performer with 19 years experience on the stage. John Marshall, a local landscaping contractor and long-time Statesboro resident, will join the others on stage.
    David Murray, professor of Piano, and Karla Qualls, accompanying coordinator at GSU, will be accompanying the singers.
    Narrating the performance will be David Dudley, Chair of GSU's Department of Literature and Philosophy. Dudley studied piano at Duke University and performed a dual piano recital with Karla Qualls last October.
    Though the concert is free, donations are welcomed. Funds go to support the department and help it put on its annual shows. Each year the opera program does a spring opera, a fall opera scenes program and a well-established Madrigal Dinner around the Christmas holiday.
    "Everybody sounds fabulous and I'm excited to be a part of it," said Gregory. "Donations of any size will be most profoundly appreciated."
    Trinity Episcopal Church is located at the corner of Country Club Road and Veteran's Memorial Parkway on the west side of Statesboro. The concert is this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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