For one summer night for the past five years the Elizabethan Stage at Oregon Shakespeare Festival becomes a concert hall under the stars. Shakespeare's words are set to music and presented by the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers. This year's "Songs of Shakespeare" concert will take place at a new time; 8 p.m. Monday, July 16.




At 7 p.m. (also a new time) Ed Wight will give a pre-concert lecture in the Bill Patton Gardens next to the theater. Under the direction of Paul French the singers will perform selections from "As You Like It," "Twelfth Night," "Macbeth," "The Merchant of Venice," and "Romeo and Juliet." Jim Finnegan will join OSF actors Robin Goodrin-Nordli and Michael Elich in reading Sonnets 8, 143, 33 and 18.




Musical highlights will include the world premiere of "It Was a Lover and His Lass," a newly commissioned work by Repertory Singers' composer-in-residence, Craig Kingsbury, and the Northwest premiere of "Under the Greenwood Tree" by Martha Sullivan. Other featured works on the program will be a piece by John Rutter, "Serenade to Music" by Vaughn Williams, Bob Applebaum's jazz-oriented "Witches, Blues," Kevin Olson's pop setting of "A Summer Sonnet," and Juhani Komulainen's focus on women in "Three Words." Providing accompaniment will be Jodi French on piano, Debra Harris and Sherril Wood, on flute and Stu Turner on bass.




The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers has performed throughout the Northwest since 1986. In addition to an annual subscription concert series, the forty-two voice ensemble regularly performs with the Northwest Bach Ensemble, and Jefferson Baroque Ensemble.




Many of the members of the Repertory Singers are music educators and professionals at work in the Rogue Valley. The group has performed at state conventions such as the American Choral Directors Association Northwest Convention (1994 and 2001) and the American Guild of Organists Northwest Convention (1997) and a 2003 appearance on "West Coast Live." The Singers recently released the CD, "In Time of Softest Snow."




Past Repertory Singers board president Russ Otte had long dreamt of seeing a concert of choral music on the Elizabethan Stage. The Singers' producer at the time, Joelle Graves, suggested a collaboration between the Repertory Singers and OSF dramaturg Barry Kraft to perform a concert of Shakespeare text and choral music. The first concert was a success and the event is now an annual tradition for the Singers and concert-goers alike.




In the event of rain, the concert will move to the Angus Bowmer Theatre with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.




Tickets are $15 adults and $5 for students. They are available at the door and at Paddington Station and Music Coop, Ashland, at and by phone 552-0900.