Greenville Chorale program celebrates American music and pays tribute to Ukraine
the Greenville Choir completes his 60th anniversary year with a concert of shorter choral works, mostly by American composers, and a tribute to the beleaguered people of Ukraine.
The 160-voice ensemble will perform the world premiere of Greenville composer Mark Kilstofte’s “Everyone’s Voice,” commissioned by the Board of the Chorale to celebrate Bingham Vick’s 40 years as artistic director and bandleader of the group.
The May Day program at First Baptist Church-Greenville also includes “A Ukrainian Prayer,” written by renowned British composer John Rutter just five weeks ago, in sympathy and solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
“It’s a beautiful, simple expression of support and hope,” Vick said. “Rutter captures the ancient spirit of Orthodox worship music with rich harmonies.”
Kilstofte’s “Everyone’s Voice”, also composed in recent weeks, took on added meaning at the start of the war in Ukraine, Kilstofte said. With text from 1919 by First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon, the piece is about a moment of musical serenity in the midst of conflict.
Kilstofte, a longtime music professor and composer-in-residence at Furman University, began work on the piece with the final line, “The song will never be over.”
“We’ve been through so much with the pandemic and now we have a war that could go on for years, but music has an enduring quality and we as humans need to connect to that – to music and to our humanity,” Kilstofte said. .
The unifying power of music
Fittingly, the program for the 60th anniversary finale highlights the genre of pieces the choir has sung over the past six decades, including spirituals, patriotic music and excerpts from longer works such as “Chichester Psalms” by Leonard Bernstein.
The featured works extol the unifying power of music, Vick said.
“Almost everything we sing can be applied to the situation in Ukraine or to the American political divide,” Vick said. “In this music, we express our hope that we can all come together.”
In addition to pieces by Kilstofte, Rutter and Bernstein, the program includes music by other well-known choral composers such as Randall Thompson, Morten Lauridsen, Daniel Gawthrop, Eric Whitacre and Moses Hogan.
The works will be sung a cappella or with piano accompaniment, with Nancy L. Smith as accompanist.
The Choir’s Herring Chamber Ensemble will also perform at the concert. The Rushingbrook Children’s Choir, under the direction of David Rasbach, returns as a guest ensemble.
If you are going to
What: Greenville Chorale: 60 moving and memorable years, anniversary finale
When: 3 p.m. Sunday May 1
Or: Greenville First Baptist Church
Tickets: $35 (regular); $20 (student)