Music sensation Barry Manilow is the first pop star Karen Kuralt ever saw in concert.
Kuralt was 14 years old when Manilow brought his “Paradise Café” tour to the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1984.
Since then, she has seen Manilow four times in concert and dreamed of being an audience member selected to sing with him.
On April 1, Kuralt’s wish will be fulfilled. UALR’s 25-member Concert Choir will sing the final three songs of Manilow’s performance at Verizon Arena, including “I Write the Songs,” “Copacabana,” and “It’s A Miracle.”
“Singing with him is a dream come true,” said Kuralt, UALR Community Concert president and Concert Choir member. “This is bucket-list material.”
Manilow selects a local choir to sing back up during his tour stops. Doug Hallenbeck, choir director of Manilow’s “One Last Time” Tour, contacted the choir at the end of February.
“We are thrilled to have the UALR Concert Choir joining Mr. Manilow at the Verizon Arena on April 1.” Hallenbeck said. “I am excited that the finely honed vocals of the Concert Choir will join with Mr. Manilow’s impeccable musicality for what is sure to be a memorable evening at the Verizon Arena. The UALR Concert Choir’s exquisite singing, combined with Mr. Manilow’s masterful performance, will be sure to please.”
The Concert Choir is the flagship ensemble of the UALR choral program and is open by competitive audition to UALR students, faculty and staff.
“It’s really exciting that we get to work with someone who has been in the business for such a long time,” said Concert Choir Director Dr. Bevan Keating, who sees the concert as a great opportunity to show his students how they can have a full-time career in music, dance, and art.
“Sometimes, in a university setting, we are trying to figure out if this is actually possible,” he said. “This gentleman and everyone surrounding him, from his music directors to his band players, all have full-time positions in the arts and also make a living doing what they love. I think it is a really good example for our students to see.”
Keating also recalled that having the chance to perform with Manilow has a very special meaning for one of his choir members.
“Terry Johnson has been in the choir for eight or nine years now,” Keating said. “In 1975, he heard Barry Manilow at the Robinson Center. When he found out he was going to be singing on stage with him, Terry said this has been 40 years in the making. So 40 years ago he heard Barry Manilow sing downtown, and now he gets to sing on stage with him 40 years later. That is twice the age of many of the singers of the choir.”
Another Concert Choir member, Mandi Carreiro, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, said Manilow has been a large influence in her life and her musical studies.
“I have always admired his music. I grew up listening to Barry Manilow, and that was what we played in our car for months straight,” Carreiro said. “‘Copacabana has an overarching story, and it gave me a new view on what music could be. And his 1974 song ‘Mandy’ is one of his most famous songs. Since my name is Mandi, I get that reference a lot, and I love it.”
Tickets are on sale at theVerizon Arena Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800.745.3000 or online at ticketmaster.com.