Gospel Choir Anniversary Concert November 15

Post a Comment » Written on October 23rd, 2008     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (October 23, 2008) – The North Park University gospel choir has criss-crossed the country, entertaining and ministering to thousands of people at Evangelical Covenant churches. Their concerts also are among the most popular events on campus, where their concerts routinely attract standing-room-only crowds.

On Saturday, November 15, they will celebrate their 15th anniversary with a concert that will feature renowned composer, pianist, and arranger Richard Smallwood. The concert will be presented at the 1,000-seat Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in order to accommodate the expected large crowd.

“It’s going to be quite the extravaganza,” says conductor Rollo Dilworth.

ChoirIn addition to Smallwood, other guest performers include Michele Thomas, who was an undergraduate student at the school when she formed the choir and became its first director.

Alumni of the choir are invited to participate with the current 200-member group on two pieces. They will practice during the day of the concert, Dilworth says, and will have free admission.

Interested alumni should email Rick Yngve to let him know they will participate. Dilworth says it is important to know how many plan to sing, adding, “They need to wear their black.”

Other elements are planned, but Dilworth says, “I don’t want to give away too many surprises.”

Dilworth says he’s honored by Smallwood’s participation. “He really started the college gospel choir movement,” he explains.

Smallwood was an undergraduate music major at Howard University. The school initially declined to give it official support, so he started it as a club, Dilworth says.

By blending elements of classical music and traditional gospel, Smallwood also changed the genre, Dilworth says.

His song, “I Love the Lord,” crossed into the mass market when Whitney Houston sang it on the multi-million-selling soundtrack to the hit film The Preacher’s Wife, co-starring Denzel Washington. Destiny’s Child and Yolanda Adams are among other musicians who have recorded his work.

Smallwood will be on campus for three days to work with students. On Thursday, November 13, he will direct the choir’s rehearsal of two of his pieces. The public can attend the rehearsal, which will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The next day, he will lead a master class for several piano majors during which he will share his thoughts and techniques about improvisation, and will give the students feedback on their work.

“He’s a phenomenal pianist,” Dilworth says.

The North Park choir was formed in 1993 when Thomas sought the support of the music faculty, which eagerly backed the idea. The first concert was held on Mother’s Day 2004.

Most of the choir members are not music majors. Even if all 67 vocal music majors were in the choir, they still would be outnumbered at least three to one, Dilworth says.

A large number of students join the choir because they have been in churches that do not allow them to express their emotions so openly or have not experienced gospel music, Dilworth says.

“It’s really a style of music that allows people to tap into their emotions,” Dilworth says.
“The genre of music is a very passionate and very strong statement of worship.

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