A trio of really bad characters has made its way into our lives. Anger, Frustration and Hatred have set up shop in our radios, televisions and on our computers via the Internet. They thrive in congested traffic, at four-way stop signs and in long lines at the grocery store. They boil over on talk radio and nightly cable news networks. They especially delight in the current environment in our nation’s capitol.
There is relief from this toxic trio, however. This weekend, Carol Allen and the Northeast Texas Choral Society have created a place filled with love, harmony and goodwill. NETCS will present three performances of “Walk By Faith,”a program offering an oasis of musical blessings for wounded hearts and scorched souls in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church.
The group opens with an emotional arrangement of “Jacob’s Ladder,” led by Allen, who is not only the group’s musical director but a seasoned performer. She commands attention as she flies solo during the first verse of the old-time spiritual.
The musical impact swells as 90 voices join Allen from the back of the sanctuary, making their way to the front of the room. In this space, with its superior acoustics, no voice is lost. The group’s tight harmonies and lush tones are enhanced by several dramatic key changes. The voices float into every corner of the room, the original version of “surround sound.”
Enriching the songs is a talented group of musicians, including piano accompanists Denise Stuart and Ken Hanushek, organist and keyboardist Deanna Spraggins, percussionists Caleb Frazier and Joe Clark, and Aubrey Caldwell, who enhance the singers instead of overshadowing them.
In “Keep Your Lamps,” “Shut de Do’” and “Let All the People Say ‘Amen,’” Frazier uses a conga drum to set the mood. I can’t remember the last time I heard a conga drum in church, but the effect is spot-on.
Allen’s enthusiasm for “Walk By Faith” transferred easily to the group during rehearsal.
“Let the emotion and passion of your faith come through,” Allen instructed her singers prior to the opening of “One Faith, One Hope, One Lord.” “Okay, let’s sing this.”
Not only did the voices of NETCS sing. They soared.
Monday night, the men of NETCS were in a zone. They sounded stronger and more confident than when they’re in concert at the spacious Hopkins County Regional Civic Center. As always, they provide solid underpinning for each song, but they really shine in arrangements of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing.” Bravo!
Several of the numbers feature soloists, including a beautiful opening verse of “Precious Lord” by Marlon Chisom. In the hand-clapping, toe-tapping “Let All the People Say Amen,” Inita Palumbo takes the song to another dimension. Bass Tim Marks provides a powerful, prayerfully reverent introduction to “I Must Tell Jesus.”
How fortunate we are to have a talent pool this deep right here in Hopkins County – and how lucky for us that for the past 12 years, these singers, their director and accompanists have chosen to give up every Monday evening for months to practice and to bring us live performances twice each year.
Prior to the singing of the group’s traditional benediction, Allen said, “We do this for our troops who are in harm’s way. We hope you breathe this song in and out like a prayer for them.”
Treat yourself to a place of true peace this weekend. Go on a “Walk By Faith” with the Northeast Texas Choral Society and find a moment of love. Your heart and your soul will forever thank you.
Performances are Saturday, May 1, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 2, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Seating is limited.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and are available at Alliance Bank, City National Bank or from any NETCS member. Call 903-885-2185 for more information.
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