Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EWC Concert Choir Heads to a Date in Carnegie Hall

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EWC Concert Choir Heads to a Date in Carnegie Hall

Article excerpt

In a confined, sun-heated rehearsal space, the Edward Waters College Concert Choir completed yet another moving rendition of the African-American spiritual Free at Last.

The trained ear of director Roger Sears found it lacking. A key passage needed more emotional weight.

"It's mournful. It's mournful. It's a sad statement and you have to portray it as such. You've got to interpret the piece," he said.

Choir members listened attentively, then went through it again. This would be no ordinary Tuesday morning rehearsal. Within days, the choir would perform in its first appearance at Carnegie Hall.

They wanted to get it just right.

The concert, scheduled for tomorrow night, will include a celebration of the centennial of the birth of African-American composer William Levi Dawson. The 40-member Edward Waters College choir will appear on that portion of the program, along with four other ensembles from high schools or colleges in Mobile, Ala., Memphis, Tenn., and San Antonio, Texas.

The Edward Waters College choir has prepared for the past two months, through a disciplined routine that includes two hours of practice a day. The choir will sing four songs, all spirituals that chronicle the experience of blacks from slavery to the present.

The well-traveled and highly regarded choir is featured in about 60 concerts a year, about once a week, and has sung for Rosa Parks and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

On campus, choir members have status. The choir is among the most visible aspects of the college, the oldest historically black college in Florida.

"If no one knows anything else about our college, they know our choir," said freshman Freddie McIntyre, a tenor.

But for most choir members, Carnegie Hall is a pinnacle.

It is considered the premier concert hall in the United States, and among the best in the world. It opened in 1871 with a performance by conductor Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In the years since, acts from Bennie Goodman to Billie Holiday to the Beatles have appeared. …

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