Choral Artists of Sarasota Presents “Then Sings My Soul” October 14 at 4 p.m.   Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota

The Choral Artists of Sarasota presents a concert of popular Christian hymns, interspersed with Jewish and Islamic songs, celebrating music as an integral aspect of devotion and mankind’s quest for the divine.

 

(Sarasota, FL) The Choral Artists of Sarasota presents “Then Sings My Soul,” a concert featuring popular Christian hymns, interspersed with Jewish and Islamic songs, Sunday, October 14, 4 p.m., at Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave, Sarasota. Featuring Ann-Stephenson Moe at the organ and an ensemble of brass instrumentalists, the concert celebrates music as an integral aspect of devotion and mankind’s quest for the divine. The repertoire include Handel’s “Thine is the Glory,” Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” the Shaker song, “Simple Gifts,” Robert Lowry’s “How Can I Keep from Singing?” and “Amazing Grace.” Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. $5 student tickets are available with ID at the door. For tickets and info, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org or call 941-387-4900.

“The genesis of this unique program has roots in the basic tenets of religion and spirituality and mankind’s quest for the divine,” says Dr. Joseph Holt, Choral Artists’ artistic director. “Music, as expression of the soul, is an integral aspect of devotion, reflecting our innermost feelings and thoughts. Throughout recorded history, music, particularly sung music, is at the heart of offering praise and glorifying the divine.”

Holt adds that religions that originate from the same source are featured through the music that is sung in the church, the synagogue and the mosque.  “In the United States, we are more familiar with Christian hymns, particularly those that are sung during Christmas and Easter, but most Jewish and Islamic music is not as known. Experiencing this music side by side, each with texts that have similar effect and meaning, enhances our understanding and appreciation of the communal spiritual gathering.”

Holt explains that within the context of the musical experience, the comfort of familiarity is contrasted with novel and even exotic sounds. The “prayerful aspect” of organized religion can be felt within these varied pieces, particularly in the combination of an Islamic prayer (sung in Persian), a Jewish prayer for the state of Israel (sung in Hebrew), and the hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” Common elements of peace, love, respect, supplication and joyful praise are found throughout the musical selections, highlighting the unifying aspects of these three major religions.

“The works presented in this concert are concert arrangements of well-known hymns and songs, grander and containing more musical fantasy than the songs heard in the church, synagogue and mosque. More contrasting is the chant-like nature of the Islamic pieces as opposed to the rich and ornamented scores of the church and synagogue,” says Holt. He notes that several arrangements incorporate a different tune for a well-known hymn. To demonstrate the arrangement techniques available to a composer, the audience will sing a few of the hymns. “It gives them an opportunity to participate in the performance and experience the creativity of the arranger,” says Holt.

 

About the Choral Artists of Sarasota

The Choral Artists of Sarasota, now in its 39th season, features 32 of the region’s most notable professional singers. The group celebrates the rich, artistic expressiveness of choral music through innovative repertoire, inspired performances and stimulating educational outreach. Under the artistic direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, Choral Artists of Sarasota performs a repertoire spanning four centuries, and includes symphonic choral works, intimate madrigals, folk songs, close-harmony jazz, and Broadway show music. The ensemble also specializes in premiere performances of lesser-known choral works—particularly music by living American composers. Choral Artists of Sarasota has performed premieres by René Clausen, Dick Hyman, Robert Levin, Gwyneth Walker and James Grant. As part of the organization’s educational outreach, eight young singers, ages 16 to 22, are invited to join the group each year. For more information, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org.