Sacred music weekend in store

Published 8:06 pm Saturday, April 13, 2013

NEWS_CONCERT WEEKEND_130411_WEBSacred music will soothe the souls of Washingtonians this weekend, as choirs from near and far perform free concerts for the public.

Saturday night, the Chowan Singers, the premier choral ensemble of Chowan University at 7 p.m. Saturday night at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Washington. Singing selections that range from the Renaissance to the present day, the Chowan Singers will make Washington a stop on their mini-tour — their big tours include performances in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, France, Italy and Ireland.

First Christian music director Beth Clark, a former Chowan professor, has high praise for the group and its director, Dr. Gregory Parker.

“He’s done a wonderful job with (the students). It’s a concert well worth coming to,” Clark said.

On Sunday, at 4 p.m., four choirs will gather at the First Baptist Church on the corner of East Main and Harvey streets for the annual Community Choir Concert. Choir members from First Baptist, First Christian, First United Methodist and First Presbyterian in Washington will take on a program that’s a little bit of everything: a spiritual, some gospel, a little jazz thrown in with an arrangement of “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,” along with more traditional songs like “Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past,” “It Is Well with My Soul” and Clark’s solo piano performance of “The Old Rugged Cross.”

Guest conductor Carol Krueger returns to lead the multi-denominational choir for the third year. Krueger is director of choral activities at Emporia State University in Kansas, and teaches the combined choirs — about 80 altos, sopranos, tenors and basses — during three workshops/rehearsals over the weekend.  She gets results: “She has a real knack for getting really good sounds out of our choir members,” Clark said.

“For most of us, we have very small choirs,” she explained. “It’s a very different and inspiring thing to sing in a large group.”

Clark said the concert each year is made possible by First Christian’s Roberson-Bagwell Endowment, which was formed in 1996 by Hannah and James Bagwell, specifically to fund musical events at the church.

“(The concert) provides a good service to the community — we can offer this concert and the community can come and listen to some really good and well-done sacred music,” Clark said.

Both the Saturday night and Sunday concerts are free.