Four choirs to perform divine anthems

Published 7:05 pm Friday, March 7, 2014

SING PRAISES: Combined choirs perform during the 2013 choral festival. FILE PHOTO | DAILY NEWS

SING PRAISES: Combined choirs perform during the 2013 choral festival.



Four choirs from Washington churches will join in worship Sunday at First Baptist Church to perform a number of spiritual anthems composed by several different names of choral and instrumental music.

Seventy-five to 80 choir members compiled from the First Disciples of Christ, the First United Methodist, the First Baptist and First Presbyterian churches will present anthems from nationally acclaimed composer David Schwoebel and others, including Mack Wilberg, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  A setting of the Negro spiritual, “Sit Down Servant” will be performed.

“It’s a great ecumenical event where we all come together on our common ground,” said Mike Morgan, organist/music director at First Presbyterian Church.

In its seventh year, the annual choral festival was founded from a vision that the average church choir member, who likely could not attend music conferences, could get exposure to good choral clinicians, according to Morgan. Hannah Bagwell, the former 40-year choir director of the First Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church, set up the Roberson-Bagwell endowment fund, which covers the cost of the workshop.

“They are very generous,” said Greg Barmer, minister of music at First Baptist Church. “There is no expense to any of the churches.”

Schwoebel, minister of music and composer in residence at Derbyshire Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., will be in Washington the entire weekend, according to Barmer. Three of the anthems that will be performed are sets by Schwoebel, who has a multitude of publications from choral to instrumental — piano and organ.

“We are very excited to have someone of his caliber with us, and to be singing with the composer himself is an exciting thing,” Barmer said.  “It will be an exciting cultural afternoon in Washington.”

According to Morgan, First Presbyterian Church had previously commissioned Schwoebel to do an anthem in celebration of its 90th anniversary.

There were rehearsals for the festival Friday night and today from 9 a.m. to noon. The performance, open to the public, is at 4 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, contact Greg Barmer at 252-946-8074. First Baptist Church is at the intersection of East Main and Harvey streets in Washington.