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May  09, 2011

Augustana to make its mark on the Big Apple

Augustana College will be in the spotlight of the Big Apple this Memorial Day weekend with a return to Carnegie Hall and an invitation to see the work of 1973 alumnus and Broadway director Phillip McKinley. The weekend entails more than 200 singers performing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall on Sunday, May 29, at 1 p.m. and connecting with McKinley on Saturday, May 28, who is unveiling the revamped rock musical SPIDER-MAN Turn off the Dark at the Foxwoods Theatre.

The 65-member Augustana Choir, directed by Dr. Jon Hurty, will perform a program of a cappella works in the 2,800-seat, five-level main auditorium of Carnegie Hall during the 1 p.m. performance Sunday. In addition to the solo program, the choir will join Augustana's Handel Oratorio Society in a performance of "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff, also under the direction of Hurty. "It's a big performance in a really amazing hall," said Hurty.

The event restores a tradition of the Augustana Choir performing at the hall that started in the 1930s. The choir had a large New York presence in the 1950s and 1960s when it was recording with the RCA label and performing on "The Ed Sullivan Show." This year's invitation came from the largest independent contractor, MidAmerica Productions in New York, which oversees many of the productions for Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center.

"The quality that they've [Augustana Choir] got, it's exciting to be able to present something like that," say Paul Torkelson, composer-in-residence for MidAmerica Productions.

Augustana alumni, friends and choir members will gather Saturday evening for a preview performance of SPIDER-MAN Turn off the Dark directed by McKinley, who is also an alumnus of the Augustana Choir. McKinley took over the directing reins of the production in mid-March to get the $65 million musical ready for its Broadway premiere now scheduled for early this summer.

The acclaimed director is known for his gift to create memorable productions no matter the size, budget or actor involved, and he is quick to credit his experience at Augustana. The path to his success, McKinley says, started with his decision as an Augustana student to declare five majors-education, speech and drama, music, English and art-and still manage to graduate in three years.
For information regarding tickets for the performance at Carnegie Hall, please visit or call (212) 247-7800. For information regarding tickets for SPIDER-MAN Turn off the Dark, please visit or call (212) 556-4750.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833