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Shepherd’s Department of Music presents ‘A Celebration of the American Songbook’

By Staff | Oct 5, 2012

The Shepherd University Department of Music will present “A Celebration of the American Songbook” on Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 7 at 3 p.m. in the Frank Center.

“A Celebration of the American Songbook” was written by Dr. Bobb Robinson, adjunct professor of music, and Dr. Robert Tudor, director of vocal activities and chair of the Department of Music. The Shepherd production is directed and choreographed by Dr. Richard Helldobler, professor of musical theater, with musical direction by Ken Cooper, vocal music director at Washington High School in Charles Town. Among the composers featured will be Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Jerome Kern.

“While musical revues have been part of America’s musical theater history, one has not been produced at Shepherd in quite sometime,” said Helldobler. “‘A Celebration of the American Songbook’ will provide our students the opportunity to explore a new performance genre while at the same time perform some of America’s greatest composers and lyricists from stage and screen. You won’t want to miss these glorious voices performing this wonderful music.”

Helldobler came to Shepherd from California University of Pennsylvania where he served as the associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs. While at California, Helldobler also served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts following 10 years as the chair of the Department of Theater and Dance. He also was the founding artistic director of the Mon Valley Ballet Theater, the resident dance company of the university. Helldobler served as vice president for academic affairs at Shepherd for three years before joining the Department of Music and returning to teaching in 2012. He has directed and choreographed Shepherd’s production of “Candide” and “Sweeney Todd.”

Tudor’s career has included work as a professional singer, educator and nonprofit executive, including leadership positions at Jacksonville University, the Florida International Festival, the Association of Boarding Schools, American Classic Voyages and Levine School of Music. He served as chair of the Division of Music at Jacksonville University from 2006 to 2012 before coming to Shepherd.

Robinson, baritone, joined Shepherd’s voice faculty this fall. The Washington Post has hailed his “charismatic stage presence” and “rich, flowing baritone” while the Miami Herald has credited him for his “impressively effortless” singing. Robinson is currently director of opera at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“A Celebration of the American Songbook” will feature Shepherd music majors VanChessca Allen, Shannon Banzhoff, Johnna Leary, Megan West, Paul Cabell, Brian James, Eduardo Rivera and Matt Rothenberg.

Admission and seating for “A Celebration of the American Songbook” is on a first-come, first-served basis. The box office will open one hour prior to each performance. General admission is $10, $5 for students 18 and under and free to Shepherd students with Rambler ID and Friends of Music MAC Cardholders.

For more information, call 304-876-5555 or visit www.shepherd.edu/musicweb.