Sulphur Springs is one of only 10 stops the Africa University Choir, an established choral ensemble at Africa University in Zimbabwe, will make during its two-week tour of North Texas. The 16-member choir, omposed of students from eight African nations, will sing during the 7 p.m. worship services at First United Methodist Church on Wednesday.

Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

Voices From Afar

Africa University Choir performing at First United Methodist Church Wednesday

From Staff Reports

May 5, 2008 - The Africa University Choir, an established choral ensemble at Africa University in Zimbabwe, will perform at First United Methodist Church during the 7 p.m. worship services this Wednesday, May 7.

The 16-student choir from United Methodist-owned Africa University, located in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe, has scheduled a two-week tour of North Texas cities. First United Methodist in Sulphur Springs is one of only 10 churches on the choir's itinerary this year.

"Africa University is funded by our annual apportionments and this is a wonderful way for us to experience and appreciate the connectional nature of the United Methodist Church," said Jennifer Philo, communications secretary at the local church.

The Africa University Choir, composed of students from eight African nations, arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on April 25. They were featured at the United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth in addition to the tour appearances.

"The choir is steeped in a musical tradition that dates back many years, and it forms a vital part of the musical activity within the University and the wider community," according to the group's website. ""We often sing a cappella, but we also sing accompanied song using various African and Western instruments/ Our repertoire is very wide, and ranges from unaccompanied sacred and secular music in various styles including African traditional, classical, and gospel, from various musical periods."

The Africa University Choirs have toured the United States several times. In the weeks prior to their departure, the university escalates the students' regimen of academics, rehearsal sessions and performances in order to assure that, in the excitement and distraction of visiting a new country, the quality and precision of their presentations will remain intact.

Africa University opened in 1992 with 40 students and currently has an enrollment of 1,395. It is located outside Mutare, Zimbabwe's third-largest city. It is a private, Pan-African and United Methodist-established and -supported institution.

"Bishop Alfred Norris of the North Texas Conference has created an initiative to raise $1 million this year to build a new Health Service Center at the university and create scholarships for students in health studies," Philo said. "A love offering will be taken at the concert to help meet this goal."

First United Methodist Church is located at 301 Church St., across from the U.S. Post Office. Call the church at 903-885-2185 for more information.

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