Four Choirs Raise the Roof in Gospel Concert

January 26, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
Communications Staff

Psalm 100 speaks of making a joyful noise to the Lord, and four GCU choirs took the passage to heart at Ethington Theatre on Tuesday evening.

“Gospel and Song!” brought together New Life, the Canyon Singers, the Canyon Chorale and the CBM Ministry Gospel Choir for an hour of uplifting music, much of it a cappella and all of it rhythmic and passionate.

Gospel music is “one of the truest forms of American music that we have,” said Dr. Juan Hernandez, assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts and Production, who directed the Canyon Singers and Canyon Chorale.

Although the concert came together with only three weeks of rehearsal, the choirs’ soulful interpretations didn’t show it. Soloists Bonita Baldwin, William Endsley and Jeanette Montenegro were in fine voice for an appreciative audience.

Much of the music came from the African-American spiritual tradition, including old favorites such as “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel.”

With the half-finished set for “The Comedy of Errors” behind them, the choirs sang music that came from a much different — and more difficult — time in American history, before slavery had been abolished in the land.

“No matter how hard things were, there was always the hope of heaven,” Hernandez said, putting the songs into context for those in attendance.

The two smallest choirs provided two of the biggest highlights.

With Gabe Salazar directing, 14-member New Life performed “You Are God” and “Because of Who You Are,” riding the powerful alto of Baldwin to an exhilarating climax in the latter number. And a call-and-response arrangement of “It Is Well,” performed by the 10-member CBM Ministry Gospel Choir under the direction of Prince Dorilus, was simply electrifying.

“If this (music) doesn’t inspire you, then we need to have a talk,” Hernandez said at one point, and he couldn’t have described it any better.

Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected]

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