In only a few short months, twenty University of North Florida students will be headed to the Jacksonville International Airport, ready to embark on a whirlwind 10-day performance tour in South Africa. Led by noted choral conductor Dr. Cara Tasher, the young singers will immerse themselves in a wholly new culture, traveling and performing in a joyful interaction with other South African musicians, delighted visitors, and locals.
The planned itinerary for these UNF Chamber Singers is an exciting one. It includes the international debut of a new composition for SATB chorus and cello by New York composer Daniel Roumain. The Chamber Singers will present another full concert in the capital city of Cape Town, side by side with student singers from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The NMMU is symbolically and historically distinguished for being South Africa’s first integrated university.
The tour is not designed simply around landmarks and publicity. As with past choral tours in Portugal and Italy, the students will directly engage in collaborative performance with their peer groups whenever possible. The students will visit and perform in less-visible urban areas such as the townships. As a musical model of success in diversity, the students will learn from their reception, their interactions, and their shared experience, gaining first-hand an immediate sense of the existing historic parallels between the United States and South Africa. One additional destination is the city of Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality), which is a sister city to Jacksonville, Florida. These students will be directly involved as cultural ambassadors in strengthening the connection between cities, nations, and peoples.
You will be helping:
Dr. Cara Tasher
The group’s conductor, Dr. Cara Tasher, Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Voice at the University of North Florida, has garnered experience as singer, chorus master and/or conductor with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Conspirare, Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, Mexico City’s Opera de Bellas Artes, Portugal’s Vocalizze Festival, Trinity Choir-Wall Street, Xavier University, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, and recently in preparing four performances for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Chorus. She has performed and recorded with conductors Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Robert Shaw, and Sir Georg Solti. Proficient in several languages, Tasher’s concerts, workshops, and guest performing engagements as both a singer and a conductor have brought her to nearly twenty countries. She studied at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, University of Texas at Austin, La Sorbonne, and Northwestern University where she received several honors and awards. Dr. Tasher is active within the national and global community through ACDA, IFCM, JSCA, MENC, NATS, and NCCO. She was awarded the 2010 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award at the University of North Florida.
Dr. Nick Curry
Two other UNF professors also join the Chamber Singers in our Concert Tour 2012. Hailing from Vanderbilt University and Northwestern University, Dr. Nick Curry has played in master classes for Lynn Harrell, Ralph Kirschbaum, Paul Katz, David Geber, the Emerson String Quartet, the Pacifica String Quartet, and the Blair String Quartet. Nick has played concerts in Taiwan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, France, Austria, and throughout the U.S.
He has presented in national conferences and is a sought after clinician, adjudicator and plans special projects for the state chapter of the American String Teachers Association. This summer Dr. Curry will serve as a visiting faculty member at the Meadowmount School of Music.
Dr. James Hall
Dr. James Hall has performed as a soloist throughout the United States with groups such as Mercury Baroque, Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra of Washington, D.C., Shepherd School of Music Chamber Orchestra, and St. Matthew’s Cathedral.
A new music advocate, Hall has participated in projects with composers Kirke Mechem, Daniel Catan, Carlyle Floyd, and Ann Gebuhr. Dr. Hall holds advanced degrees from The Maryland Opera Studio at the University of Maryland as well as Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Ashley has been the Director of Public Relations for the University of North Florida’s Department of Music since the summer of 2007. Prior to her appointment at UNF, she was Creative Manager for a cell phone carrier whose duties included creating static and animated content (utilizing 3rd party celebrity, college sports, and artist materials) and managing a team that created and prepared content for distribution by major cell phone companies. In addition, she served as Assistant to the Senior Vice President of Marketing for a major website firm, specializing in advertising materials for Web Acquisition Services, which included working with major clients to ensure a successful design solution. She specializes in a wide variety of design services and has won several awards including Employee of the Year Honoree.
She graduated with honors from the University of North Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications focusing on Advertising and Photography (as well as additional studies in Journalism) and continued her studies through UNF’s Post Baccalaureate Program in English/Literature. In 2008 she was awarded a UNF Grad Program Scholarship for “Excellent Scholarship” and received the same award in 2009. She earned her Master of Arts Degree in English (as a member of Sigma Tau Delta – International English Honor Society) in 2010.
We are fortunate to have professional photographer and digital archivist Ashley Earles-Bennett with us on tour.