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The Concert Choir has been the flagship choral ensemble of Stetson University, a private, liberal arts university in DeLand, Florida, since 1935. The choir has traveled extensively throughout the southeast United States and twice abroad, serving as ambassadors for Stetson University. This study documents Stetson University's early history, the first few decades of choral activity at Stetson University, and the complete history of the Concert Choir through the tenure of Milburn Price. The study explores 1) the individuals, events, and institutions leading to the formation of the Concert Choir, 2) the philosophy and purpose of the Concert Choir, 3) the individuals, events and institutions that have shaped that philosophy and purpose, and 4) the ways in which the Spring Concert repertoire of the Concert Choir reflects the ensemble's philosophy and purpose. The three major conductors of the Concert Choir, occupying 71 of the last 77 years, were Harold Giffin (1935-1972), Robert Rich (1972-1989), and Duncan Couch (1989-2006). Giffin was responsible for combining the separate glee clubs into one performing ensemble, performing Handel's Messiah annually for twenty-five years, and instituting an extensive touring schedule throughout the United States. The performances at the National Federation of Music Clubs (1939), New York City's Lincoln Center (1967), and the recording session that was broadcast coast-to-coast with NBC in Chicago (1953) were three of Giffin's tours that were most significant. Rich was the first alumnus of the Concert Choir to be hired as Director of Choral Activities and conducted the ensemble for their first ACDA convention performance in 1974. During his tenure, the High School Choral Clinic and Christmas Candlelight Concert, modeled after the English Lessons and Carols, were started and have continued annually throughout the scope of this study. Couch grew the popularity of both the clinic and the Candlelight Concert, took the Concert Choir on two European concert tours, and cultivated collaborations with many professional orchestras. This study concludes that the Concert Choir is a choral organization influenced by the sacred a cappella choral traditions; however, it was not dominated by it. This study further identifies that the development of the annual Christmas Candlelight Concert and spring tour were foundational for the choir's activities each year. Documentation illustrates each director's willingness to accept this heritage and develop the Concert Choir accordingly throughout its history.
A cappella, Choir, Concert Choir, Glee, History, Stetson University
Date of Defense
July 10, 2014.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Kevin Fenton, Professor Directing Dissertation; Christopher Moore, University Representative; Judy Bowers, Committee Member; André J. Thomas, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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