New chorus director sees success in campus singers and ringers

Release Date: 12/9/2005

Clarksville, Ark. (December 9, 2006) -- A packed house of students, faculty and community members turned out for the annual service of lessons and carols December 6 in Munger Memorial Chapel on the Ozarks campus.

Led by Ozarks’ new chorus director Mikael Lindström, the University Chorus, Select Women’s Ensemble, Men’s Ensemble and University Ringers presented a traditional program of Christmas carols. The service also included Christmas readings and hymns.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Lindström after completing his first major performance as chorus director. “But they pulled it off!” The chorus includes several students who had never sung before, said Lindström.

For the first time in two years, the university ringers were a part of the service, performing with new hand bells donated by University of the Ozarks President Rick Niece and his wife Sherée.

A native of Sweden who arrived at Ozarks in August after receiving his Ph.D. in music from the University of North Texas, Lindström has directed choruses for years under the supervision of his professors, but, “This was my first time completely in charge.”

Lindström, who is also a professor of music at Ozarks, said he was impressed with the progress the chorus made in their singing during rehearsals for the service. “The challenge was to get them to learn music faster,” said Lindström, who plunged the chorus into an intensive program of sight reading of music. He said students responded enthusiastically to the preparations.

“They enjoy what they do, and I love that,” said Lindström, who also credited Jeanine Myers, who played piano for the service, Ozarks Organist Sharon Gorman, and Ozarks Vice President for Academic Affairs Daniel Taddie, who has a background in music, with giving him insight and assistance that made the service a success.

The learning curve was even steeper for the ringers than the chorus, said Lindström. “In less than two weeks, we put together “Peace, Peace” said Lindström, referring to the selection performed by the ringers. “It’s challenging when you only have six (ringers).” He added that lifting the larger bells during the selection is “A real athletic achievement!”

The Nieces were “Absolutely thrilled” with the performance of the university ringers, as with the concert overall, said Rick Niece. Inspired by his father, Lewis, who was a music teacher for many years, the Nieces purchased 37 Schulmerich handbells with a three-octave range, which they donated in the name of his father and late mother, Dortha Jean Niece.

Rick Niece said he and Sherée Niece worked with Taddie to find the best bells for the chorus.

The University Chorus is now looking toward their spring concert and a tour in March, when they will perform in churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

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