Teddy bear concert dedicated to arts educator Mary Jo Kaser

Concert goers contribute teddy bears for Ronald McDonald House CharitiesConcert goers contribute teddy bears for Ronald McDonald House Charities

The South Bend Symphonic Choir, ensemble in residence at the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at IU South Bend, present its annual “Teddy Bear Concert” in collaboration with several community organizations at 7:30 pm on Saturday, December 11.  For the second year the concert will feature the collection of teddy bears for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Indiana – Michigan, Inc. for use at Memorial Hospital. 

In addition, “The Teddy Bear Concert” is dedicated to Mary Jo Kaser, fine arts curriculum facilitator, who passed away this fall.  Mary Jo was a staunch defender and proponent of the arts.  In her last email to Dean Curtis in May 2010 she expressed her excitement about the opportunity for the South Bend Community Schools to partner with IU South Bend in this event; the Adams and Washington High School Choirs will perform in the concert.

This special concert will open with selections by the newly formed IU South Bend Chamber Choir directed by Michael Wade and the IU South Bend Gospel Ensemble directed by CreAnne Mwale.  The featured piece will be Handel’s Messiah, Part I, presented by the South Bend Symphonic Choir directed by Marvin Curtis; IU South Bend Chorale and Chamber Choir directed by Michael Wade; Washington High School Choir directed by Paula Harris; and Adams High School Choir directed by Donald Moely.  Dean Curtis will conduct the combined ensemble with accompaniment provided by IU South Bend’s Euclid Quartet as the core of the orchestra.  Guest soloists will be soprano Alfrelynn Roberts, mezzo-soprano Paula Rast Harris, tenor Cornelius Johnson, and bass Stephan Lancaster.  Please see second page for biography information.

Since 2002, parents of seriously ill children at Memorial Hospital have turned to the Ronald McDonald Family Room for a safe, affordable home-away-from-home.  Teddy Bears are provided to parents whose children are being treated or transferred to another hospital for more specialized care.  Teddy Bears should be new and 12-15” in height.  Bears will be accepted in exchange for concert tickets, or tickets will be available for sale for $7-$12 through the Arts Box Office.  Box Office hours are 11 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday and one hour prior to the concert.  For more information visit or call 574.520.4203.

Teddy Bear Concert by the South Bend Symphonic Choir
7:30 pm Saturday, December 11
Campus Auditorium, Northside Hall
Tickets $7-$12 or free with the donation of a new teddy bear

Soprano Alfrelynn Roberts of Kalamazoo, Mich., was semi-finalist for the Houston Grand Opera Studio.  Other awards include Michigan State and Great Lakes regional winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artists Award Competition (NATSAA), 1st place winner Advanced Division National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competition, 3rd place National Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Competition and 2nd place National Association of Negro Musicians Vocal Competition.  She has appeared in Porgy and Bess, Sound of Music, Il Barbiere de Siviglia, and Die Zauberflöte.  Ms. Roberts has a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Hampton University.  She is currently on the adjunct faculty at Calvin College, Kalamazoo College and Cornerstone University. 

Mezzo-soprano Paula Rast Harris has been an educator and vocal performer in the Michiana area for more than 20 years.  She has soloed with the Elkhart County Symphony, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, the LaPorte Symphony, and performed with Indiana Opera North.  Audiences have delighted in her operatic performances of the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Suzuki in Madame Butterfly, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutti, Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro, and The Third Lady in The Magic Flute.  Her Masters Degrees in music education and vocal performance are from IU South Bend.  She also holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree in voice from Indiana University, Bloomington.  Ms. Harris currently teaches vocal music with the South Bend Community School Corporation and serves on the adjunct vocal faculty at Holy Cross College. 

Tenor Cornelius Johnson made his professional solo operatic debut as Peter the Honeyman in Houston Grand Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess.  He followed with performances at Opera Bastille in Paris, La Scala in Milan, and the Bunkamura Theater, with the Tokyo Philharmonic.  Opera roles include parts in La Boheme, Man of La Mancha, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, and The Magic Flute with Chamber Opera Chicago, South Shore Opera, Opera Theater North at the Ravinia Music Festival, Opera Memphis and Connecticut Opera to name a few.  A native of Chicago, Mr. Johnson received his Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College.  In addition to an active performance schedule, Mr. Johnson is a faculty member at Olive-Harvey College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. 

Baritone Stephan Lancaster was recently appointed to the position of assistant professional specialist in voice at the University of Notre Dame.  Mr. Lancaster has appeared with the Arbor Opera Theater, Motor City Lyric Opera, Great Lakes Lyric Opera, Opera Notre Dame, University of Michigan Opera Theater, and the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.  In the summer of 2009 he served on the voice faculty of the Franco-American Vocal Academy in Périgord, France.  Recently he made his debut at Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Concert Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, and Carnegie Hall. Mr. Lancaster holds a D.M.A. in vocal performance from the University of Michigan, and has studied at the University of Notre Dame (M.M.), Moody Bible Institute (B.Mus.), and Oberlin Conservatory’s Baroque Performance Institute. He currently studies with Judith Haddon in Chicago, Ill.