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Monroe Crossing and A-State choirs to present concerts Apr. 25 and Apr. 26

Monroe Crossing (left to right, David Robinson, Matt Thompson, Derek Johnson, Lisa Fuglie, Mark Anderson)
Jamey Guy
Jamey Guy Photography
Monroe Crossing (left to right, David Robinson, Matt Thompson, Derek Johnson, Lisa Fuglie, Mark Anderson)

KASU, the public media service of Arkansas State University, and the A-State Department of Music will present two collaborative concerts featuring the combined A-State choirs and the bluegrass band Monroe Crossing. The first concert will be Monday, April 25, at 7:00 p.m. at the Collins Theatre, 120 West Emerson Street, in downtown Paragould, Arkansas. This event is part of the Bluegrass Monday concert series presented by KASU 91.9 FM. A second concert will be Tuesday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Riceland Hall of the Fowler Center on the A-State campus in Jonesboro.

The centerpiece of each concert will be a performance of The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass. In 2006, music patrons Mike and Kay McCarthy commissioned composer Carol Barnett and librettist Marisha Chamberlin to create a piece of music which combines folk and bluegrass music with classical choral music. The resulting work is a 30 minute, joyous and unique mixture of both musical styles. The mass was written with Monroe Crossing in mind, and the band has performed the work over 70 times with choirs across the United States and in performances in South Korea.

Sixty voices from the A-State Concert Choir and the Jonesboro Chorale will be directed in the concerts by Dr. Ryan Sullivan, the Director of Choral Activities in the A-State Music Department.

In addition to the performances of The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass, at each concert Monroe Crossing will also play a set of traditional bluegrass selections in addition to classic country songs, bluegrass arrangements of hit pop songs, and original melodies.

Also at each concert, the A-State Concert Choir will present arrangements of two southern hymns by Shawn Kirchner: Angel Band and Unclouded Day. Audiences may recognize these familiar tunes but with added jazz harmonies that make them fresh and exciting. Also heard on Monday’s concert will be David’s Lamentation by early American composer, William Billings. The choir’s chilling sound fits the sad tale of King David mourning the loss of a child.

In addition, at the Tuesday, April 26 concert, the A-State Chamber Singers will perform music by William Billings and arrangements of several African American spirituals.

Monroe Crossing is named in honor of the creator of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe. In their career, the group has performed over two-thousand shows at bluegrass festivals, churches and venues across the country. In addition to touring across the United States, the band has also toured through Canada, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

Monroe Crossing has recorded 17 CDs and has produced a concert DVD. A CD, including music recorded live at past Bluegrass Monday performances, was released by the band in 2015.

Based in Minnesota, Monroe Crossing is the only bluegrass band ever to be named “Artist of the Year” (2004) by the Minnesota Music Academy. The group has also been inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and has received numerous awards from the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association.

The A-State Concert Choir is the flagship choral ensemble of the university. Students audition to be part of the group which performs multiple concerts on campus each semester as well as touring regionally, nationally and internationally.

The Jonesboro Chorale is open to all A-State students and also includes community members of all ages who desire to sing choral music. The Chorale presents multiple concerts each academic semester.

The A-State Chamber Singers is a select mixed choir comprised of A-State students. This ensemble presents several concerts each year.

Seating at each concert is first-come, first-served. Advance tickets for the Monday, April 25, concert are available at www.kasu.org/tickets. Advance tickets for the Tuesday, April 26, concert are available at www.astate.edu/tickets. Net proceeds from each concert will assist in offsetting travel costs for an upcoming concert tour by A-State vocal students in Portugal.

The Bluegrass Monday concert series is a non-profit presentation of KASU-FM, providing music fans with an affordable and outstanding evening of entertainment. These concerts are held on the fourth Monday night of each month. They are presented with support from sponsors including the Paragould Advertising & Promotion Commission, Bibb Chiropractic Center, Gardner-Milner Law Firm, the Posey Peddler, Hyde Park Café, Holiday Inn Express and Suites of Paragould, and KASU.

For more information, contact KASU Program Director Marty Scarbrough at mscarbro@astate.edu or 870-972-2367. Additional information is also available on the Bluegrass Monday Facebook page.

Marty Scarbrough has worked at KASU since 1992, and he serves as program director, overseeing the station’s content. Marty is a graduate of Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, and he has produced and hosted programs of classical music, jazz, bluegrass, and blues music. He also oversees KASU’s Bluegrass Monday concert series. When not at work, Marty loves spending time with his wife and his three sons, and he enjoys attending concerts of many different styles of music.