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Alumnus to Perform at the White House

North Park University Alumnus Marvin Curtis

CHICAGO (December 17, 2009) – This will be a Christmas to remember for 1972 North Park graduate Marvin Curtis.

The director of the South Bend Symphonic Choir in South Bend, Ind., Curtis and 20 members of his 44-voice ensemble have been invited to perform at the White House on Monday, December 21. The 75-minute concert includes a repertoire of holiday selections and will begin at 11:45 am on the State Floor of the presidential mansion.

“Above all, this is a shared honor with all the people that have been a part of my life as teachers and mentors,” says Curtis, who earned his degree in music education and has since served as the choir director at four universities. “I am not sure whether the First Family will stop by, but I hope they do and I get to meet them.”

Believe it or not, this isn’t Curtis’ first brush with a president. A talented composer, he wrote the music for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Later, as choir director for Lane College in Tennessee, his group sang at the first memorial service for former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. This new opportunity is especially exciting, says Curtis, because he will be performing at the White House itself.

“I knew I wanted to be in music since elementary school, and especially in high school,” he says. “My parents paid for piano lessons from the time I was three years old until I went off to college, although there were no musical people in my family until I came along.” A member of the Harlan High School Choir in Chicago, Curtis also became a member of the All-City High School Choir during his senior year. He wrote his first composition in high school, but it was at North Park that two of his compositions were performed by the University's Concert Choir.

The South Bend Symphonic Choir that he currently directs was founded in 1967 and is comprised of community residents. While it was affiliated with the South Bend Symphony in its early years, since 1975 it has been Indiana University South Bend’s ensemble-in-residence.

Curtis began working in June with the office of Indiana Senator Evan Bayh on a proposal for a holiday performance at the White House. The process included creating an audition tape and submitting written information, in addition to obtaining security clearances. For Curtis, it was well worth the effort.

“This is a great honor for me, my choir, and my university,” he says.