The Wilmington Choral Society opens its 68th season on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. with some of the best-known and best-loved spirituals in a program titled “I’m Gonna Sing! A Celebration of Gospel.” The soulful concert is performed in the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College. Directed by Paula Brinkman, the hundred-voice chorus sings such notable gospel favorites as “I’m Gonna Sing (’Til the Spirit Moves in My Heart),” and “Elijah Rock,” as well as holiday classics “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Mary Had a Baby,” and “Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow” to help celebrate the season.
Appearing with the Choral Society as featured guest soprano is Denise Murchison Payton, Director of Choral Activities at Fayetteville State University. A native of Spring Lake, North Carolina, she is known for her beautiful voice as well as a spell-binding presence when ministering in song. Denise is referred to as a dramatic soprano, although her recent CD release of “Songs in D, Inspirational Songs of Faith” displays her versatility of range. Dr. Payton will fill the Wilson Center with her magnificent voice!
Other gospel classics on the program include “Deep River,” “Ain’-a That Good News!,” “Wade in the Water,” “Amazing Grace,” and “When the Saints Go Marching In,”— with arrangements by Moses Hogan, William Dawson, Norman Luboff, and John Rutter. The Wilmington Choral Society is accompanied by pianist Byron Marshall, and is now in its fourth year Residency at the Wilson Center.
The first published use of the term “gospel song” is believed to have appeared in 1874, although gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century. With roots in the black oral tradition, early gospel songs were written by such composers as George F. Root, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music and following World War II, gospel music concerts moved into major auditoriums.
Gospel music typically features a dominant vocal (that is frequently harmonized) and Christian lyrics. Some modern gospel music, however, isn’t explicitly Christian but utilizes the style and sound. Gospel music can be performed a cappella but usually will feature choirs accompanied by piano or Hammond organ, tambourines, drums, bass guitar and, increasingly, electric guitar. In comparison with hymns, the gospel song’s rhythm is more syncopated.
Tickets are $16-$20. Audience members are also encouraged to bring a donation or non-perishable food item to the concert to be delivered to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard food pantry. There are three ways to get tickets:
1— by phone at (910) 362-7999;
3—in person at the Wilson Center Ticket Central, 703 North Third Street.
In addition to the upcoming performance, applications are now open for the Choral Society’s annual Dave Hardee Scholarship for Vocal Arts or Music Education. Recipients of the scholarship receive $1,000. Application is open to graduating high school seniors in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick Counties who plan to pursue music in some aspect. The winner is selected in the spring and invited to perform at the Choral Society’s spring concert. Details are available at www.wilmingtonchoralsociety.org/scholarship, and applications are due by Feb. 12, 2019.