2015 Archives

Free concert at SMU-in-Taos to feature Chamber Singers

Ima Leete Hutchison Concert on July 18 to explore ‘From Dreams To Dawn’

June 19, 2015

DALLAS (SMU) – A group of talented singers from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will explore the places our imaginations travel during the night in a free concert at 8:15 p.m., Saturday, July 18, in O’Donnell Auditorium on the Fort Burgwin campus of SMU-in-Taos.  

Meadows Chamber SingersThe Meadows Chamber Singers is a group of undergraduate and graduate students from three Meadows School choral ensembles – The Meadows Chorale, the Meadows Concert Choir, and Diva Dolce.  The vocalists represent a variety of majors and minors, including vocal performance, music education, music therapy, composition, and musical theater.

The Ima Leete Hutchison Concert is featured each year at Fort Burgwin during the SMU-in-Taos Cultural Institute, two and a half days of short courses that explore the unique cultural richness, scientific contributions and recreational opportunities of Northern New Mexico. The concert series is made possible by an endowment established in 1989 by William and Patsy Hutchison in honor of Mr. Hutchison’s mother.

Pamela Elrod Huffman, associate professor of music and director of choral activities at SMU’s Meadows School, will conduct the program. Desta Hailu will accompany the group on piano, joined by Meadows Dean Sam Holland on a work for chorus and four-hand piano by American composer, William Averitt.  The work, entitled, The Dream Keeper, is based on the writings of Langston Hughes.

“I’m excited about it,” Huffman said.  “Some of the repertoire is about where our minds go when we dream at night, and some pieces are just about a better life.

As the concert moves on to music about the dawn, the lyrics are symbolic as well as literal.”

Huffman said the singers will close the program with their version of Light of a Clear Blue Morning, which many people know as a Dolly Parton recording.  “It’s a lovely arrangement that is somewhat more “dreamy” than the original country tune that Dolly sang.”

Huffman’s conducting career ranges from elementary and secondary schools to university, symphonic and church choirs – and has included positions in Texas, New York, Illinois and Georgia. At SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, Huffman oversees the Master of Music in Choral Conducting program and directs the University’s choral ensembles.

An accomplished vocalist, Huffman has appeared as a guest artist with numerous university, professional, community and church choirs throughout the country. She sang from 1988 to 1999 with the late Robert Shaw, performing and recording with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, the Robert Shaw Choral Institutes, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus. Since 2003, she has been a member of Conspirare, the Grammy Award-winning professional choral ensemble under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson.

The SMU student performers include Regina Branford ’16 of San Antonio; Laura Bumgardner ’15 of Grapevine, Texas; Gabe Edwards ’16 of Valley Mills, Texas; Raul Escalona ’16 of Miami; Jesse Gilbert ’16 of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Maggie Harper ’16 of Kansas City, Mo.; Maya Jones ’16 of Mansfield, Texas; and Charles Karanja ’13, ’16 of Nairobi, Kenya.  Also performing are Vinnie Mahal ’17 of Houston; Alexis Nguyen ’17 of Fort Worth ; Obi Okechukwu ’16 of Dallas; James Resch ’17 of Katy, Texas; Haley Stead ’16 of San Diego;  Kali Stewart ’16 of Denton , Texas; Chris Thrailkill ’16 of San Antonio; Kiara Wade ’17 of Houston; Alison Wheaton ’16  of Edmond, Okla.; and Joe Whitenton ’18 of Austin.

SMU-in-Taos is located in the community of Ranchos de Taos, approximately 10 miles south of Taos, N.M., in the heart of the Carson National Forest at 6580 Highway 518. The Fort Burgwin campus has been an educational center of Southern Methodist University since 1973. A map and directions to the campus are available at www.smu.edu/AboutSMU/Maps/SMU-in-Taos. For more information call 575-758-8322.


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.