Mansfield University Student and Alumni Concert Choirs Perform at Carnegie Hall in honor of MLK

interior of Carnegie Hall with several choirs performing together as the crowd looks on
The finale featuring the MU Concert Choir, Alumni Choir, and five high school choirs performing “Way Over in Beulah Lan’”

MANSFIELD, Pa. — 53 students in the Mansfield University Concert Choir, along with 55 Concert Choir alumni, performed at the renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City on Jan. 15 in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The Mansfield students and alumni performed alongside five high school choirs, four of which are directed by MU alumni.  

The varied program of choral music featured the works of composer Stacey Gibbs with six of his spiritual arrangements. Gibbs was in attendance for the performances and served as the master of ceremonies.  

The finale, “Way Over in Beulah Land,” also the title of the concert, is the third event that Dr. Peggy Dettwiler, director of choral activities, has organized in the prestigious concert hall.  

Curtis Smith receiving The Keiffner Award on behalf of the Howard and Olynda Smith family for their long-time support of the Mansfield choral program

During the concert, longtime supporters of the Mansfield vocal program, Howard and Olynda (Chaffee) Smith, were posthumously honored with the 2023 Del Kieffner Award. This award of national recognition is presented annually to a music educator who has gone above and beyond in their mentoring of young students in the performing arts. Accepting on behalf of the family were Curtis Smith, son, and Cynthia Porter, daughter of Howard and Olynda Smith.  

“Mansfield’s esteemed choral program wouldn’t be where it is today without the Smith family and their generosity,” Dettwiler said.  

The high school choirs that performed with Mansfield students and alumni included Port Allegany High School (Cole Ramsey, director), Troy High School (Sydney MacDonald, director), Boyertown High School (Jeff Brunner, director), Dover High School (Samantha Roberts, director), and Waynesboro High School (Andrew Wensel, director).

The performance included more than 300 participants across the seven choirs.  

A sold-out bus of supporters traveled from Mansfield to Carnegie Hall to witness the concert. 

Retired saxophone professor, Joe Murphy, accompanying the Alumni Choir
Honoring the accompanist, Katherine Johnson, after “You Raise Me Up”
55 members of the Alumni Concert Choir
Intense singing of the spiritual, “Wade in the Water” by the feature composer, Stacey V. Gibbs