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The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers

The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers will swing into spring with three new works by New York composer Martha Sullivan and the Maurice Duruflé "Requiem," commissioned in 1947.

The group's "Into Light" performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ, 1801 Jackson St., and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 18, at the Music Recital Hall on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Sullivan's choral works have been commissioned by artists such as the Dale Warland Singers, the Gregg Smith Singers and Chicago A Capella, along with various college and church groups in the Northeast. Her compositions have been broadcast on New York's WQXR — and thus worldwide on the Internet — as part of a concert by the vocal quartet Adventori.

Sullivan also is a noted singer, performing with several other groups, among them the Gregg Smith Singers, the New York Virtuoso Singers, Vox Vocal Ensemble and new-music ensembles at Yale and Boston universities.

Sullivan's songs and arrangements have been featured at various festivals, including the New Texas Festival, the Emily Dickinson in Song Festival in Massachusetts and the Studio Arsis Workshops in Japan. She was a winner in the Dale Warland Singers' 2003 Choral Ventures competition.

Under the direction of its artistic director and conductor, Paul French, SORS will be joined by the Southern Oregon University Chamber Choir and a small instrumental ensemble for the performance of the requiem, with its echoes of Gregorian chant and French harmonies.

Also showcased will be "Sanctus and Hosanna" from Bach's "Mass in B Minor." Rounding out the concerts will be choral arrangements of songs composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

French also is the director of choral and vocal studies at Southern Oregon University, as well as a tenor soloist.

Ensembles under his direction have performed at conventions for the American Choral Directors Association, the American Guild of Organists, the Oregon Music Educators and others.

As a conductor, French has performed with organizations that include Rogue Opera, Jefferson Baroque Orchestra, the Northwest Bach Ensemble, the Chelan Bach Festival, Rogue Music Theatre and the Rogue Valley Symphony. French debuted with SORS in 2003 on National Public Radio's "West Coast Live."

SORS is celebrating its 24th season of public performances. The choral group has established several music traditions in the Rogue Valley, such as world premieres of works commissioned from national and international composers and the annual Mozart (& More) and Songs of Shakespeare performances.

SORS has recorded and released two CDs, titled "In Time of Softest Snow" and "On the Trail of Beauty."

Tickets for "Into Light" cost $18, $5 for students with valid identification, and are available at Paddington Station and Music Coop in Ashland, the Grocery Outlet in Medford, online at www.repsingers.org or by calling 541-552-0900.

There will be a preconcert lecture at 2 p.m. before the Ashland performance. Admission to the lecture is free.

Call 541-552-0900 or visit www.repsingers.org for more information.

The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, directed by Paul French, will be joined by singer and composer Martha Sullivan at their April 17 and 18 concerts. - Photo courtesy of Bonnie Oliver