Say 'Amen,' Somebody

Choral Society presenting concerts of sacred music April 5 and 6

By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor

March 27, 2008 - Get ready to clap your hands, tap your feet and shout "Amen!" on Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6, when the Northeast Texas Choral Society will present three performances of their all-spiritual concert "Can I Get a Witness," in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church.

"We've performed over two dozen spirituals in the past 10 years, but never done a program built solely around this wonderful music," said Choral Society Musical Director Carol Allen.

The concert is a special one, created as part of the group's celebration of 10 years of performing.

The concert opens with a moving arrangement of "We Are Not Alone," with the singers scattered throughout the sanctuary. It is a wonderful way to experience the rich quality of the group's individual voices, as well as listen to the talents of soloist Laura Baima.

The powerful musical arrangements and the emotions they bring to the surface have had a profound effect on choral society members.

"I'm so busy listening to this beautiful music and these wonderful singers that I almost forget to sing," says first semester singer Linda Mabe.

Mary Jane Teetes likes the music so much that she has been moved to "stand up, raise my hands and shout."

To George Irwin, the experience has been a "fountain of youth.

"It's better than McDonald's," Irwin said recently.

"We've all been moved in different directions," explained longtime choral society member Phyllis Rogers. "We hope the audience will be as moved as we are."

Marty Rose, who doesn't sing but comes to practice with her husband, Jim, and volunteers in other capacities, has high praise for the group's commitment. During a recent rehearsal, Rose sat in one of the church's pews, watching the group go through its paces.

"This is dedication at its finest," Rose explained. "These people volunteer their time. They are not paid. Their gifts come from the heart. When you can get this number of people together for 10 years, you've done something."

Allen is also aware of the level of her singers' dedication.

"It brings me to tears that they feel such a deep sense of ownership with this music," Allen said. "They are singing with one heart and one spirit. That's where the greatness comes from."

For Allen and the 80 voices she commands, these performances will also recognize the generosity of First United Methodist Church.

Although there will be no charge for the three shows, proceeds from love offerings will be used to replace folding chairs in the church's fellowship hall. It's the choral society's way of giving back.

"We wanted to perform in the church to thank them for giving us a rehearsal home for the past 10 years," said Allen. "We've gotten really good use out of the folding chairs. It's time to replace them."

Performances of "Can I Get a Witness?" are Saturday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. While admission is free, "placement tickets" are required for each performance. The tickets are available from Choral Society members or by calling 903-885-2949.

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