The Singing Statesmen host their 50th anniversary concerts

The ensemble celebrates years of excellence in men’s choir

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Gary Schwartzhoff conducts the UW-Eau Claire Singing Statesmen choir at their 50th anniversary concert in Gantner Concert Hall Friday May 6.

The bond created between singers during a performance is unlike anything else.

UW-Eau Claire’s Singing Statesmen celebrated their 50th year as one of the premier university all male choruses with two anniversary concerts May 6 and 7.

Established in 1966 by Morris Hayes, the ensemble was created to feature male voices representing a wide variety of academic disciplines with a common interest in choral music.

There have been three conductors throughout the choir’s existence. Hayes led the choir from 1981 to 1984 and Bruce Mclnnes from 1988 to 1990.

Leading the ensemble since 1991, the current conductor Gary Schwartzhoff was presented the Honorary Alumnus Award at the 50th anniversary concert for his significant contributions to the university’s welfare, reputation and prestige.

Both concerts consisted of pieces that were a combination of original and newly commissioned songs of past and present Singing Statesmen members.

Friday’s performance featured the Innocent Men, an a cappella group on campus, and Saturday’s concert had a performance by the Singing Statesmen’s alumni.

The alumni performance consisted of over 160 previous members of the Singing Statesmen singing Ave Maria by Franz Biebl.

An alumnus who partook in the performance, Hugh Gaston, joined the ensemble his freshman year in 1990 as an instrumental music education major. He said he enjoyed visiting other alumni at the concert.

“Without a doubt my favorite part was seeing friends I see regularly and those I haven’t seen since college,” Gaston said.
Gaston is currently working as a principal at an elementary and middle school in Wisconsin Dells but he keeps up with the choir as they grow each year. Gaston said he has seen this group go above and beyond in their musical excellence and camaraderie.

“The group will never settle for being less than what is possible and if anything, to exceed expectations,” Gaston said. “The current group was absolutely fantastic.”

Schwartzhoff said this year’s Singing Statesmen ensemble was gifted with a multitude of undertakings.

“A lot of interesting and outstanding opportunities fell to this ensemble in this given year,” Schwartzhoff said.

The ensemble had the honor of being part of the 50th anniversary and they also had the chance to do some juried performances.
Juried performances consist ensembles whom submit recordings of their work and if chosen by a blind committee of peers will appear at conventions.

The Singing Statesmen ensemble for both fall and spring semester was selected to perform at the Wisconsin Music Educators Convention October of 2015 and the Intercollegiate Men’s Choral National Seminar in March 2016.

Sophomore business/marketing major and current member of the choir, Aidan Stumpf, said he enjoys the bonds he has with other members and the different experiences each member has coming into the group.

“I like the fact that so many people of many different backgrounds can come together to create amazing music together,” Stumpf said.

Stumpf joined the ensemble when he was a freshman and he found that his involvement with the Singing Statesmen so far has already taught him valuable life skills that he uses in all aspects of his life.

“I think being part of this group has shaped me in so many positive ways,” Stumpf said. “There were so many life lessons learned that I have applied in everything I do.”