USAO News Bureau

National Choir Picks Only 2 Oklahomans – Brothers

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Only two Oklahoma vocalists will represent the Sooner State in a select 50-voice, national choir – both are from the University of Science and Arts. And they’re brothers.

USAO students and brothers Scott and Matthew Pitts of Comanche were chosen from more than 1,000 competing college students from Oklahoma and across the nation. The choir includes only 50 students from 19 states. One of its first concerts will be in Oklahoma City.

The choir is scheduled to perform during the 2009 American Choral Directors Association’s National Convention in Oklahoma City March 4-7. After three days of rehearsal and orientation, the ACDA College and University Honor Chamber Choir will perform at least two concerts, said Dr. Jan Hanson, professor of music, who will prepare the students for the convention.

“The choir will perform at least two concerts and will premiere a new commissioned work written for the event by Dominick Argento. They will be a part of a collaborative outdoor event at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. This is a great honor for them and for USAO,” Hanson said. Argento is an American composer who is recognized as a leading composer of lyric opera and choral music.

“I am very proud of all four students from USAO who auditioned and extend my warmest congratulations to Scott and Matt. What a wonderful Christmas present for these students,” Hanson said.

Scott Pitts is a vocal music education major from Comanche. He represented USAO last year in Kansas City at the ACDA Regional Convention. A member of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Concert Choir, he also plays trombone in the USAO Droverspirit Wind Ensemble. He was featured as a vocal soloist in both the Bach and Brahms Festivals. A former all-state choir member, he has competed in both solo and ensemble vocal competitions at both the district and state levels. He is a former member of the all-region honor band and honor chorus.

Another graduate of Comanche High School, baritone Matthew Pitts is a vocal music education major. Last spring, he placed at NATS in his division and helped represent USAO in Kansas City at the ACDA Regional Convention. An accomplished saxophonist, he performs with the USAO Droverspirit Wind Ensemble and sings in the Vocal Jazz Ensemble and Concert Choir. Pitts was named to the Oklahoma All-State Choir during both his junior and senior high school years and was a four-year member of the South Central Honor Band. During his senior year, Pitts served as the drum major at Comanche High School and received the John Phillip Sousa Band Award.

The guest conductor for the choir is Gary Graden, choral director at St. Jacob’s Church in Stockholm.

Graden has been on the faculty of Stockholm’s Musikgymnasium, where he founded and conducted the Stockholm’s Musikgymnasium Chamber Choir. He won grand prizes and first place prizes in several of Europe’s most prestigious competitions.

His work as a conductor and singer is documented by a long list of CDs and radio recordings. He has taught conducting, held master classes and conducted professional choirs around the world. He is the recipient of the Johannes Norrby Medal for his contribution to Swedish choral music. He was elected Sweden’s 2005 Choral Conductor of the Year.

ACDA membership consists of more than 20,000 choral directors who represent more than one million singers across the United States and internationally. ACDA members teach choral music in public and private schools - kindergarten through senior high school - and at the college and university levels. They conduct a variety of choral groups, including boy choirs, children's choirs, men's and women's choruses, junior and senior high school choirs, college and university choruses, ethnic choirs, vocal-jazz ensembles and symphony choruses.