Singing Hoosiers bring works of state’s native sons to life

Every so often, when Columbus native Emmaline Terry steps outside the rehearsal room for Indiana University’s Grammy-winning Singing Hoosiers for a quick break, she hears a sweet harmony when she gets back to the door.

And a jolt of gracious reality hits her.

“You just have to keep reminding yourself how fortunate you truly are to be in such a gifted choral group as this,” said Terry, an IU freshman and first-year member of the ensemble that travels worldwide as an ambassador of one of the nation’s top music schools.

Terry and what she calls “85 of my closest friends” comprising the vocal-and-dance group will perform a range of Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter tunes, along with a few other artists, accompanied by the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.

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The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at Columbus’ Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St.

The blending of this dynamic duo is the first since February 2005, when Columbus native Michael Schwartzkopf directed the singers with the orchestra.

For this concert, the IU performers, now under the direction of Steve Zegree, also are bringing their own eight-piece band.

Organizers acknowledged that, while seats are still available in every zone of the venue, they are selling briskly.

And no wonder. The Singing Hoosiers have appeared through the years with such luminaries as Bob Hope and Tony Bennett. The group also was the focus of a 1995 PBS special with Mel Tormé.

“They are a wonderful draw for us,” said David Bowden, philharmonic music director.

“The reason they have such a following is that they’re just so good. Many other show choirs are very good, too, but they’re sometimes still a little rough around the edges.

“But the Singing Hoosiers’ excellence is paramount. They present a fabulous show that never seems to wane.”

In recent years, the group twice has packed the Music At Asbury series with nearly 430 people at Columbus’ Asbury United Methodist Church. Columbus native Kevin Rudzinski, a second-year member of the Singing Hoosiers, performed at their last local concert last February. And he looks forward to this one, too.

“I would tell people to learn to expect the unexpected with us,” Rudzinski said.

Bowden acknowledged that the early portion of the concert will feature a significant surprise or two. Other portions will highlight standards such as Carmichael’s “Stardust” and “Georgia On My Mind,” which reigns as Rudzinski’s favorite for this appearance.

“It’s just so smooth and silky,” Rudzinski said.

For Porter’s “Too Darn Hot,” about 15 members of the chorus’ varsity group will cut loose and let a few dance moves sizzle near the edge of the stage. Especially with Zegree’s arrival, the troupe has updated and expanded its choreography.

The 21-song concert also will include tunes from other artists such as Louis Jordan, Irving Berlin and the Swingle Singers. Plus, Bowden has devised an up-close-and-personal twist for Singing Hoosier alumni to be a part of the show, as they always are.

One of the alumni, Columbus’ Janie Gordon, worked with both Rudzinski and Terry while they were local high-schoolers. And Terry likes the idea of performing with the group in front of front of friends and family on a stage she knew well as a student for performances such as the pop-rock concert, “American Pie.”

“It’s exciting to have the chance to perform again in front of the people who supported me and watched me grow up,” Terry said.

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Who: The Singing Hoosiers with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7

Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St., Columbus.

Tickets: $15 to $50, available at 812-376-2638, ext. 110.