Third-graders to see revamped “Peter & the Wolf” thanks to Bob Barker gift 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 16, 2016 — A decades-old tradition will receive a revamp next week as Drury University’s Theatre, Music and Education departments present the annual performance of “Peter and the Wolf” for elementary school students at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.

Nearly 3,000 third graders from throughout Springfield and the surrounding area are expected to attend the two performances by more than 50 Drury students at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 22. Media are welcome to cover the event.

For more than 40 years, Drury students and faculty have brought Sergei Prokofiev’s classic children’s symphony to life for the benefit of local youth. The 2016 edition has a new look and feel thanks to a gift from the Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights and creative input from director Robert Westenberg. The performance will now include some small changes that reflect messages of humane education about wild animals.

The 1936 work is designed to teach children about the orchestra through an easy-to-understand fairytale about a boy and his animal friends being stalked by a wolf. Each character is represented by a different instrument and musical motif.

According to Westenberg, this year’s production will be “completely restaged and redesigned. It will feature new set pieces, costumes, and props.” Photos and brief videos of wolves in the wild will help reinforce “the importance of respecting our fellow animal creatures and how we need to harmoniously coexist within our mutual ecosystems,” Westenberg adds.

Others involved in the revamp include Drury theater technical director Mark Needelman (scene design), Drury theater professor Madison Spencer (costume design), Drury alumna Christine Bass (visual design) and professional choreographer Chyrel Miller. Dr. Robin Schraft will narrate the performance and Dr. Christopher Koch will conduct the orchestra. The Drury Friends of Music Fund helps support this annual musical education experience.



Drury symphony and jazz groups to perform in Chicago this week

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Dec. 1, 2015 — Three Drury music groups are headed to the Windy City this week for public performances.

The Drury Wind Symphony, Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo I will embark on an outreach tour to Chicago to perform at venues that include the University of Chicago, the John Hancock Building and the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church. As part of the Drury Connect initiative, the tour will help promote wider awareness of the university while connecting with alumni and prospective students in the area.

The Drury ensembles will also perform a joint concert with the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project (ChiMOP), an organization dedicated to positive social change in young students with limited access to the arts.

“I’m delighted our wind symphony and jazz ensemble students will have this opportunity,” says Dr. Christopher Koch, director of orchestras and wind symphony at Drury. “With much of the group returning after last spring’s strong performance at the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference, I wanted to give the students another opportunity to perform on a wider stage – and being able to connect with and help promote the ChiMOP will be something I know they will never forget.”

“Our jazz students will share the stage with the Wind Symphony and also hold some of their own performances,” says Dr. Tina Claussen, director of jazz studies at Drury. “The majority of the program is ‘new,’ featuring cutting edge works and arrangements of lesser-known jazz standards as well as original compositions written by myself and our students.”

The Wind Symphony will also play recently composed music and will host at least one of the composers, Nebojsa Macura, at their events. The group will perform Macura’s work, “Chochek Rhapsody,” while in Chicago.

“This tour demonstrates and celebrates the strong support for a robust arts program here at Drury,” says Dr. Allin Sorenson, chair of rine and performing arts. “The arts help to bring any community together, and in a complex world we need them more than ever.”


Tickets for Drury’s annual Christmas Vespers available Nov. 2

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., October 21, 2015 — Fans of Christmas traditions will want to mark two upcoming dates on their calendars. Tickets for Drury’s annual Christmas Vespers choral concert will become available in two weeks, beginning Monday, November 2. Due to high demand in recent years, there will again be two Vespers performances this year at 3 and 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 6 in Stone Chapel.

Tickets will be available via the Drury website at They are free of charge; however there is a limit of four tickets per order. Tickets must be ordered online and cannot be reserved by phone. Tickets tend to go quickly, so please order early. Guests will be able to pick up their tickets at Stone Chapel one hour prior to the performance.

In-town guests are encouraged to attend the 7 p.m. performance, and out-of-town guests, such as parents of Drury students, are encouraged to attend the 3 p.m. performance. Vespers is a celebration of classic carols such as “Silent Night” and “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” and has taken place at Drury for more than 60 years.

Video highlights from the 2014 Vespers performance can be viewed online. For more information regarding the event, please call the Drury Music Department at (417) 873-7296.


Music professor’s work takes the stage at Edinburgh Festival

Three original works by a Drury music professor are headed to one of the top international music festivals on the planet later this month.

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe’s “Christ Church Mass” and two other pieces have been selected for a live performance at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland on Aug. 30.

The event focuses on classical music and opera, and was founded in 1947 as of way of showcasing “the flowering of the human spirit” in the wake of World War II. It grew rapidly and helped spawn dozens of other arts events at the same time, most notably the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, now the world’s largest arts festival.

These events are collectively known as the Edinburgh Festival, and artists whose works are selected for inclusion find themselves in a sought-after spotlight.

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe

“I’ve been very fortunate to have had my works performed in numerous exciting venues, from the Kennedy Center to the International Sacred Music Festival in Riga, Latvia, and the Edinburg Festival is certainly included in those,” says Sharpe, who is professor of music composition and theory.

“Christ Church Mass” was written for Christ Episcopal Church in Springfield and performed there at the 2013 Easter service. It has since become a regular part of the church’s repertoire. Sharpe is a longtime member of the church’s choir.

“The work consists of the typical movements – Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei – performed in the context of a service,” Sharpe says. “Although it can be performed at any time, I added brass quintet and timpani to the standard organ part so that it could be performed for larger, more celebratory occasions such as Easter.”

The other pieces are “Flourishes,” a work for brass quintet and organ and “Laudate Nomen,” a festive work for chorus and organ.

They will be performed at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal Church in Edinburgh.

“Sacred music, in particular, has been a big part of my experience, because as a life-long Episcopalian, music of high quality historically plays a large role in the Episcopal Church,” he says.


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Drury professor named Springfield Regional Opera music director

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 25, 2015 — Dr. Christopher Koch has been appointed Music Director of the Springfield Regional Opera.

Koch is an associate professor of music and director of the Orchestra and Wind Symphony at Drury. As music director of the Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra, Koch is a longtime champion of orchestral music and the arts throughout southwest Missouri. The nationally recognized SDCO has been the area’s regional community orchestra for more than a decade.

Koch mug

“We’re delighted Dr. Koch is joining our organization, and this is just the first step in an exciting restructure and revitalization of the SRO,” says Cindy Curtis, president of the organization’s board of directors.

Koch will continue his work at Drury and with the SDCO as he assumes new duties with the Opera.

The Springfield Regional Opera will collaborate with Springfield-Drury Civic Orchestra in a gala Evening at the Opera to be held at Drury’s Clara Thompson Hall at on Saturday, October 3. The event will celebrate the SRO’s 35th season and will feature many of the company’s past and present stars, both local and international.


Media Contact: Dr. Christopher Koch, Associate Professor of Music: (417) 873-7298 or

Hip-hop crossover star Lecrae comes to O’Reilly Family Event Center April 29

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 10, 2015 — Grammy-winning Christian rapper Lecrae will perform at the O’Reilly Family Event Center at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 29. Andy Mineo and DJ Promote will open.



Tickets start at $24 and go on sale at 10 a.m., Friday, Feb. 13 at or by calling (417) 873-6389. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the OFEC box office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Lecrae’s latest album, “Anomaly,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in September. His previous album, “Gravity,” and his “Church Clothes” mixtape, both from 2012, have been called landmark Christian hip-hop recordings by fans and critics alike. “Gravity” won the 2013 Grammy for Best Gospel Album, while “Church Clothes” was downloaded more than 100,000 times in its first 48 hours on the web.

The southern-born rapper has undeniable crossover appeal. “Anomaly” is only the fifth album to ever hit the top spot on both the Billboard 200 and Billboard Christian Albums charts. In 2013, Lecrae was featured on the Rock The Bells Tour alongside rap luminaries like Wu-Tang Clan, Kendrick Lamar, Common and many more.

More information:, and


Two Drury groups perform at the Missouri Music Educators Conference

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 27, 2015 — The Springfield-Drury Girls Choir and Drury Wind Symphony will perform Friday as part of the 77th Annual Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) conference at Tan-Tar-A resort in Lake of the Ozarks.

The MMEA conference is highly selective and seeks the top student groups from across the state to perform for its members each year. This is the first MMEA appearance for the Springfield-Drury Girls Choir, led by Mark Lawley, and the second for Drury’s Wind Symphony, under the direction Dr. Christopher Koch.

The Wind Symphony, comprised of about 40 students, will be introduced by Dr. Allin Sorenson, chair of Drury’s music department. The ensemble will perform four works, including Bernhard Heiden’s “Diversion” featuring Drury associate professor of music Dr. Tina Claussen on alto saxophone.

“I’m delighted our Wind Symphony has again earned an invitation to perform at MMEA,” said Koch. “It’s a significant honor for any university to be selected and our students richly deserve the recognition.”

The Springfield-Drury Girls Choir is comprised of 50 singers in grades 2 through 6 from Springfield and the surrounding area. The group will be introduced by Drury First Lady Betty Coe Manuel and will sing five pieces; two of which were composed for the choir and will officially premier at the conference. Dr. Carlyle Sharpe, professor of music composition and theory at Drury, composed one of those pieces, titled “I Sing A Song of the Saints of God.”

“We were thrilled to find out that they were selected,” said Lawley. “There are only three elementary school choirs out of the state of Missouri selected for the conference.”


Two Drury music ensembles will perform at statewide MMEA conference

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 21, 2014 — Two Drury ensembles, the Drury Wind Symphony and the Springfield-Drury Girls Choir, have been selected to perform at the statewide Missouri Music Educators Association’s annual conference in January. Both will hold free local performances in December.

“Being selected to perform for the Missouri Music Educators Association is one of the highest honors for ensembles in the state of Missouri,” said Dr. Allin Sorenson, chair of Drury’s music department. “It is a highly selective process that allows only the very best performing groups to be chosen.”

Drury’s Wind Symphony, led by Dr. Christopher Koch, will perform at MMEA for the second time. The Springfield-Drury Girls Choir, a new ensemble founded in 2012, will make its first appearance at MMEA under the direction of Mr. Mark Lawley.

“We are thrilled that we will be represented this year by two groups,” said Sorenson. “It is an honor to work with such gifted and talented students and faculty, and it is a great achievement for both the music department and indeed all of Drury.”

The Springfield community can see both ensembles perform this December at the groups’ annual Winter Concerts. The Drury Wind Symphony will perform at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 2 in Clara Thompson Hall. The Drury-Springfield Girls Choir will perform at 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 14 in Stone Chapel. Both events are free and open to the public.


Tickets for annual Christmas Vespers performance available on Nov. 7

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 24, 2014 — Fans of Christmas traditions will want to mark two upcoming dates on their calendars. Tickets for Drury’s annual Christmas Vespers choral concert will become available in two weeks, beginning Friday, Nov. 7. Due to high demand in recent years, there will again be two Vespers performances this year at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7 in Stone Chapel.

Vespers candles

Tickets will be available via the Drury website at Tickets are free of charge; however, there is a limit of four per order. Tickets must be ordered online and cannot be reserved by phone. Guests will need to print their tickets and bring them to the concert for admission. In-town guests are encouraged to attend the 7 p.m. performance; out-of-town guests, such as parents of Drury students, are encouraged to attend the 3 p.m. performance. Vespers is a celebration of classic carols such as “Silent Night” and “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” and has taken place at Drury for more than 60 years.

“Vespers is a wonderful opportunity for Drury to give something back to the community at this special time of year,” says Dr. Allin Sorenson, music department chair. “We are honored to be part of such a long standing and respected tradition.”

Doors will open 30 minutes before the performances and guests are encouraged to arrive early to get the best seats.

Video highlights from the 2013 Vespers performance can be viewed online. For more information regarding the event, call the Drury Music Department at (417) 873-7296.


Music professor wins statewide award for original composition

Dr. Carlyle Sharpe is both a professor and practitioner of music composition. His students have long recognized what he brings to the table as a teacher, and his peers have often recognized his talents as a composer – including a recent statewide nod.

Sharpe, professor of music composition and theory, was this summer honored with the Opus Award from the Missouri Choral Directors Association for his original composition, “Psalm 8.”

The award is presented annually to a Missouri composer with the most outstanding choral composition, nominated and voted on by members of the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA). Sharpe’s piece was written in honor of the 75th Anniversary Convention of MMEA, and was performed by the Boys Choir of Springfield under the direction of Mark Lawley, director of music education at Drury.

Sharpe has numerous awards in choral, solo, orchestral and combination pieces, but his favorite part of composing is the creative process behind it.

“The award is icing on the cake, but the cake is the process of composing and the rehearsal of it,” he says. “You have it in your head a certain way — so what’s magical about it is when it lines up the way you envisioned it and the music comes to life.”

Carlyle Sharpe

A working composer, Sharpe teaches composition lessons, music theory and ear training courses at Drury, while he composes original music at home.

“I love teaching college students because its keeps you young and engaged,” Sharpe says. “I use the principles and theories I teach in my own work, and I think students appreciate that the person educating them is also practicing those techniques outside of the classroom.”

Every piece he composes comes with its own challenges, but Sharpe values both the Drury and Springfield communities for their continuous support and appreciation of the arts. Springfield and Drury ensembles have performed 30 of Sharpe’s works.

Dr. Allin Sorenson, professor of music and director of Drury Singers says, “There’s incredible value in having the composer directly work with the performers because he is able to provide insight into the music that is usually unavailable to musicians.”

Now entering his 15th year at Drury, Sharpe has seen the music department grow from just 17 music majors to about 100 music majors and minors — a record high.

“Seeing all the exciting potential at Drury and watching the potential come to fruition is incredible,” Sharpe says. “We are still relatively small, but we’re doing things on a big scale. We may be small, but we don’t think small.”


Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.