“The students and I are excited about representing Carleton in this once-in-a-lifetime performance opportunity,” said Lawrence Burnett, Carleton professor of music and choral director.
The group was invited by the White House Social Office to apply for a performance spot back in September. The group’s application was confirmed and advanced to the next stage in the selection process. Burnett informed the students in early November that they’d been picked for the prestigious honor.
The group plans to assemble in the Washington, D.C., area on November 29 for intense closed and open rehearsals in preparation for their appearance. (Burnett will update the group's schedule daily on the Chorale and Music Group website.) According to Burnett, the appearance gives the group a chance to prepare and perform holiday music, which typically doesn’t occur since Carleton ends its fall academic term in mid-November.
Burnett and the students also hope to take a U.S. Capitol tour, witness the National Christmas Tree Lighting on December 1, and view the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument.
“Between rehearsals and a bit of sightseeing, we are going to be quite busy,” Burnett said. “But that is in keeping with the frenetic pace to which we are accustomed to at Carleton.”
The Carleton Singers is a highly select, mixed choral ensemble of 16 voices that presents annual concerts of short and extended works from classical, ethnic, and cultural repertories, including works for mixed, women’s, and men’s voices. Under Burnett’s direction, the ensemble has been lauded for energetic and emotional performances while sustaining high degrees of excellence in choral singing. The group was featured in a concert performance at Carnegie Hall to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., demonstrated the singing of African American spirituals at an American Choral Directors Association North Central Convention, and performed at a conference of the Minnesota Music Educators Association. Concert tours have included New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Madison, Wis., and Washington, D.C. The group members include: Buritelejin (Nada)Batu ‘14 (Maple Grove, Minn.), Samuel Braslow ‘15 (Los Angeles), Claire Cocroft ‘14 (Philadelphia), Sarah (Qwill) Duvall ‘14 (White Bear Lake, Minn.), Denis Griffis ‘12 (Alamosa, Colo.) Anthony Harb ’15 (Chicago), Soomin (Edward) Heo ‘14 (Seoul), Matthew Matsunaga ‘12 (Honolulu), Julian Pozniak ‘14 (Madison, Wis.), Katarina Rolf ‘15 (St. Paul, Minn.), Elena Rosenberg-Carlson ‘12 (San Francisco), Ethan Sagin ‘13 (Cumberland, Md.), Patrick Stephen ‘15 (Duluth, Minn.), Hannah Telegen ‘14 (Newton, Mass.), Brooke Thompson ‘15 (Albert Lea, Minn.), and Xue (Shirley) Yang ‘15 (Beijing).
A Carleton faculty member since 1993, Burnett previously taught at the State University of New York at Potsdam, and he has served as a conductor, clinician and adjudicator at many choral festivals and competitions throughout North America. Among other distinctions, Burnett was awarded the first-ever New York State Governors’ Award for African-Americans of Distinction in 1992 for “service, civic participation and selfless dedication to the Northern New York community.”