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The Sound of Music in Mansfield and NYC

Publish Date: 2/28/2012

February 28, 2012

MANSFIELD, PA- This weekend’s performances of The Sound of Music at Straughn Hall will give the audience a taste of what New Yorkers will be hearing in Carnegie Hall this April. The Nun’s Chorus, predominantly made up of women of the Mansfield University Concert Choir, will be featured in both productions.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the release of the movie version of The Sound of Music, which won five Oscars. Many other anniversary performances are occurring round the country, including the April 24 concert in Carnegie Hall of which Rob Fisher is the musical director.

Fisher, an internationally distinguished artistic director, conductor, and pianist, is a leading figure in American music and musical theatre. He has directed and produced a number of performances at Lincoln Center and supervised Broadway revivals of Anything Goes, Hair, The Apple Tree, and Wonderful Town. Fisher was the music director for Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company and frequently appears on "Prairie Home Companion."

As luck would have it, Fisher was also one of the judges who heard the women of the Concert Choir's winning performance at the International Eisteddfod in Wales in 2010, and invited the group to be the Nun's Chorus in a concert performance of The Sound of Music. Unlike the performance at MU, which is fully staged, a concert performance includes a full orchestra and cast in costume, but without all the sets and scene changes of a Broadway musical.

In a letter to Peggy Dettwiler, director of the Concert Choir, Fisher states: "It was a pleasure hearing your choirs compete, and I was happy to be able to announce them as winners a couple of times."

Of course, one of the challenging aspects of school choirs is that seasoned singers are always graduating as new ones join. Dettwiler has her hands full adjusting to the changing balance in voices and experience, but to audiences familiar with her ensembles, it seems effortless.

For the Mansfield University production, the lead roles went to several of the women of the Concert Choir, and some students who are not in the Concert Choir are singing as part of the Nun’s Chorus. For the Carnegie Hall concert, all the women of the Concert Choir will perform as the Nun’s Chorus, along with the Broadway stars singing the roles of several nuns.

Dettwiler asked for permission to make the Nun’s Chorus larger, and held auditions for four more spaces. “So now there are four young women going who are not in the Concert Choir and who they can’t believe they are going to Carnegie Hall,” she said.

Clearly Dettwiler is enjoying the students’ excitement at having this opportunity. “Usually it costs a lot to perform at Carnegie Hall,” she explains, “but this is all expenses paid.”

The students will spend three days rehearsing and performing in Carnegie Hall, and their lodging, meals, and transportation are paid for by Carnegie Hall. This will be a special one-night-only performance and funds raised will directly support Carnegie Hall’s artistic, educational, and community programming.

Performances of The Sound of Music at Mansfield will be Thursday, March 1, Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m. in Straughn Hall.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for children ages 12 years and under. They can be purchased online at or at the door. MU students with valid ID will be admitted free.

The production is funded in part through Student Activities fees. For more information call (570) 662-4712.

For those interested in attending the Carnegie Hall concert on Tuesday, April 24, there are two possibilities. The performance is at 8 p.m. but all ticket availability is through Carnegie Hall at (212) 247-7800 or

The Alumni Relations Office has chartered a bus to attend the dress rehearsal at 1 p.m. There is no charge to attend the dress rehearsal; however there will be a charge of $75 for the bus. For more information and to make reservations for the bus, call the Alumni Relations Office at (570)662-4390.

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