During its first appearance in the national competition, the Saint Mary’s Women’s Choir earned second place in the American Prize in Choral Performance competition in the college and university division in October. The contest recognized the College choir as one of nine finalists for the award. Conductor Dr. Nancy Menk said her group set a precedent for an all-women’s choir placing near the top at the competition. “We were the first women’s choir to place in the top three,” Menk said. “That was an honor.” Menk is a professor of music, director of choral activities and the Mary Lou Judd Leighton Chair in Music at the College. She also serves as conductor and music director of the South Bend Chamber Singers, which also competed for the American Prize and placed among the top eight finalists in the community division. “I am proud of both choirs,” she said. Founded in 2009, the American Prize honors outstanding choirs that submit recordings to be reviewed. There are six categories: professional chorus, college or university level chorus, community or faith-based chorus, secondary school chorus, youth chorus and children’s chorus. The Women’s Choir, currently comprised of approximately 45 students, has performed across the country as well as internationally and recorded four CDs. For the competition, the Women’s Choir submitted a CD entitled “Anima mea,” Latin for “My soul.” The CD includes a number of relatively current, 20th– and 21st-century songs. Senior Ashley Stopczynski credited much of the group’s success to Menk. “Dr. Menk ensures that we get a well-rounded choral experience by including upbeat, slower and different styles of music,” said Stopczynski. Stopczynski said its “Anima mea” CD is a testament to the choir’s talent, an excellent tool for sharing that talent with others. “Dr. Menk makes it a point to give a good example of women’s choral music to younger singers,” Stopczynski said. Menk and Stopczynski both said being an all-female choir did not give them any kind of edge in this competition. “A good choir is a good choir,” Menk said. Stopczynski agreed, but she said the group is still unique. “I actually don’t think women choirs get enough recognition for the beauty of the sound,” she said. “However, being the only female group to win is an amazing experience. … It’s wonderful to be recognized for the work we put into our music.”
The Philadelphia Police have come up with a clever new plan to hide their surveillance vehicles in plain site. They’re trying to convince people that they’re actually Google Maps cars.To more critical eyes, it’s pretty clear that this is not part of Google’s fleet of mapping and imaging vehicles. Where’s Pegman? And more obviously, where’s the giant mast with the camera wart on top that’s alway stuck on Maps vehicles? Information science professor Matt Blaze, who shared the image above on his Twitter feed along with a “WTF?”, obviously wasn’t fooled.WTF? Pennsylvania State Police license plate reader SUV camouflaged as Google Street View vehicle. pic.twitter.com/0z4yo2rVoR— matt blaze (@mattblaze) May 11, 2016The pair of small, rectangular boxes clearly wasn’t put there to capture imagery that lets you virtually walk the streets of Philly from the comfort of your own home. They’re the eyes of an ALPR (automated license plate recognition) rig.Apparently someone at the police department figured that it’d be a good idea to slap Google’s branding on the truck to keep possible targets from getting too suspicious when a big, white SUV came creeping down their street.A real Google Street View vehicle for reference.When a Vice reporter initially inquired about what the deal was with the vehicle, police spokespeople were unavailable for comment. Possibly they were off getting their story straight, because a short while later they returned with an admission — at least a partial one.Yes, they said, this is indeed a vehicle that belongs to the Philadelphia Police Department. As for how the Google decal ended up there, that’s still a mystery officially: “the placing of any particular decal on the vehicle was not approved through any chain of command.”Don’t worry. They’ve promised that an inquiry is under way and that they’ll get to the bottom of this… possibly just in case Google decides to make a stink. Google is well aware of the incident and their lawyers have a bit more free time now that they’ve settled their patent disputes with Microsoft.