Choral Invitational: African-American Spirituals and the Freedom Train April 28

April 25th, 2009 by Adam

Plymouth.N.H.—The PSU Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance has invited New Hampshire high school, community and church choirs and individual singers to participate in a daylong program of workshops and clinics Tuesday, April 28.

The event will culminate in a public concert, “African-American Spirituals and the Freedom Train,” performed by combined singers.

More than 235 singers will take the stage for a combined choir segment of the concert, which will be held in the Hanaway Theatre at the Silver Center for the Arts at 7 p.m.

The program includes performances by each of the individual groups, and a mass choir performance of Keep Your Lamps, and My Good Lord’s Done Been Here arranged by guest conductor André Thomas, and Ride on King Jesus, arranged by Moses Hogan.

Participants include the Goffstown High School Chamber Singers, conducted by Josh Desrochers; the Phillips Exeter Academy Concert Choir conducted by Ryan Turner; The Proctor Academy Chamber Singers conducted by Kristofer Johnson; the New Hampshire Master Chorale, conducted by Dan Perkins and the PSU Chamber Singers, also conducted by Perkins. Some community members have also been invited to participate in the combined choir segment of the program.

Professor André Thomas is Owen F. Sellers Professor of Music at Florida State University, where he is director of choral activities and professor of choral music education. Thomas is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician and director of honor and all-state choirs throughout the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia, according to Perkins, who organized the event.

Thomas has been guest conductor of such distinguished orchestras and choirs as the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in England and guest Conductor for the Berlin Radio Choir in Germany, and the Netherlands Radio Choir. He is also a well-reputed composer and arranger.

The schedule includes a workshop lecture, “Way Over in Beulah Lan’” and book signing by Thomas, followed by individual clinics for each of the performing groups. The mass choir will rehearse from 4-5:15 p.m.

In preparation for the program, Perkins’ students have read excerpts from Thomas’ book, which is the subject of the day’s lecture, and studied the history of the Nathaniel Peabody Rodger’s House in Plymouth, which is thought to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad and was formerly on the site now home to the Silver Center for the Arts. In class, the students have read poetry by the Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay, who spent several seasons working as a houseboy at the Dartmouth Inn.

“Students are learning through the study and performance of this music that pain and suffering are, sadly, universal and timeless. The spirituals are as relevant today as they were during the horrible period out of which they developed. They are also learning that, although the music developed out of pain, the hope and redemptive spirit of the spirituals can inspire our current actions locally and globally, said Perkins, who is Stevens-Bristow Professor of Music at PSU.

The opportunity to bring world-renowned conductor, composer, author and clinician André Thomas to PSU is unique. “He has an engaging and inspiring style that will give the students and community a deeper understanding of the history and performance practice of this powerful musical genre. The PSU chapter of the American Choral Directors Association has worked hard to host this important event,” Perkins concluded.

Tickets for the concert are $12¬–8 for adults; $10–6 for seniors; $8–4 for youth and $5 for PSU students with I.D. at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-ARTS or (800) 779-3869. Tickets are also available online at silver.plymouth.edu.
For general information about events at PSU, log on to ThisWeek@PSU, http://thisweek.blogs.plymouth.edu.

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