The EMU Chamber Singers, directed by Kenneth Nafziger, will present programs of worship through music, poetry and audience participation at 11 venues in four states during the university's mid-semester break. (Photo by Jim Bishop)

EMU Chamber Singers to Explore ‘Jesus’ Questions

A line from American poet Mary Oliver (b. 1935) provides the framework for the Chamber Singers of Eastern Mennonite University for its upcoming tour during the school’s mid-semester break.

In her piece, “One Summer Day” (1992), Oliver asks, “Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” The 34-voice select choir of EMU students will explore that question through music, poetry and hymn singing in services of worship at 11 locations in four states.

Kenneth J. Nafziger, professor of music at EMU, said the repertoire will range from Bach and Samuel Barber and Alice Parker and Jim Clemens to Bobby McFerrin, Bono/U-2 and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

“The primary focus is to ask Oliver’s question of Jesus, and see what Jesus might be through the lenses of scripture, composers and poets and hopefully invite persons to ask that question both about Jesus and about themselves,” Dr. Nafziger added.

Also on the repertoire at some locations will be “Misa Criolla,” a setting of the mass with Latin American rhythms and instruments by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez.

Two receptions — in Wellman, Iowa and West Liberty, Ohio — are scheduled in conjunction with program performances. Following the concerts on March 8 (Wellman) and March 11 (West Liberty), EMU alumni, friends, prospective students and families are invited for refreshments and conversation with EMU staff.

Tour schedule

Sat., March 5 – Midway Mennonite, Columbiana, Ohio, 7 p.m.
Sun. a.m., March 6 – Kidron Mennonite, Kidron, Ohio, 9 a.m.
Sun. p.m., March 6 – First Mennonite, Bluffton, Ohio, 7 p.m.
Mon., March 7 – Waterford Mennonite, Goshen, Ind., 7 p.m.
Tues., March 8 – Wellman Mennonite Church, Wellman, Iowa, 7 p.m. (followed by reception for area EMU alumni, friends and prospective students)
Wed., March – Iowa Mennonite School, 9:45 a.m.
Thurs. a.m., March 10 – Bethany Christian School, Goshen, Ind., 9:20 a.m.
Thurs. p.m., March 10 – Lockport Mennonite, Stryker, Ohio, 7 p.m.
Fri., March 11 – Bethel Mennonite, West Liberty, Ohio, 7 p.m. (followed by reception for area EMU alumni, friends and prospective students)
Sat., March 12 – Scottdale Mennonite, Scottdale, Pa., 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 13 – Kaufman Mennonite, Davidsville, Pa., 10:20 a.m.