Singing Hoosiers hope to delight at inauguration ball


Director of the Singing Hoosiers Michael Schwartzkopf conducts the Singing Hoosiers during practice Wednesday afternoon at the Music Annex. The Singing Hoosiers were invited to sing during the Inauguration events of Barack Obama in Washington D.C. next week. Chris Pickrell

It’s a good thing sophomore Natalie MacRae doesn’t have much of a problem with nerves.

The elementary education major is preparing to perform at an event with an intimidating list of invitees – Gov. Mitch Daniels, several members of Congress and the hundreds of others invited to Monday night’s Indiana Society of Washington, D.C. Inaugural Ball.

IU’s Singing Hoosiers will perform at the ball in the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington the night before President-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office.
“We kind of get to show them what we’re made of and what kids our age can do,” said McRae, an alto in the group.

The group received an invitation to perform and will sing for about an hour and a half, said Director Michael Schwartzkopf. He said the Singing Hoosiers have performed at inaugural balls before, but 15 to 20 years have passed since the last.

Sophomore Andrew Basile, tenor, said Obama is expected to make an appearance at the ball, but not until after the Singing Hoosiers have left.

The group took one of its last opportunities to perfect its routine Wednesday afternoon in the Music Annex. The vocalists belted out celebratory tunes (Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something”), songs about the Hoosier state (Ballard MacDonald’s and James F. Hanley’s “Back Home Again in Indiana”) and politically themed pieces (Cy Coleman’s “Hooray for our Favorite Son!”).

Sophomore Leslie Clarke, soprano, said this will be one of her largest audiences and most prestigious performances ever.

“I feel really lucky because I was chosen to go,” Clarke said. “It’s really nice because I work my butt off, and it’s nice seeing our work being appreciated.”

The students will go to the National Mall on Tuesday to watch the inauguration. Clarke said the group received 20 tickets to go into the ceremony. The rest of the students will watch from the Mall.

Although McRae said she has never been interested in politics, she said the inauguration is something she won’t forget.

“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” McRae said. “It’s amazing, and you’re seeing history in the making. To be there for the first African-American makes it even more special.”

Basile has performed in a presidential setting before. When he was in fourth grade, his choir sang for President Bill Clinton at the White House.

This will be different, he said, because the invitation to an upscale, prestigious event is a sign of the Singing Hoosiers’ national reputation.

“It just shows how important this choir is and how important the Jacobs School of Music is to the state,” Basile said. “It doesn’t actually hit you until you get invited to something like this.”

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