Local Chorale Headed to Carnegie Hall

The Heritage Signature Chorale celebrates its 18th season with a Carnegie Hall performance. (Courtesy of HSC)
The Heritage Signature Chorale celebrates its 18th season with a Carnegie Hall performance. (Courtesy of HSC)

The Heritage Signature Chorale, which recently completed its 17th anniversary of showcasing the music of African-American composers, Negro spirituals and “elevating the African-American singer and composer in all music genres,” is headed to perform in the penultimate venue for music: Carnegie Hall.

The group, which recently launched its 18th season, rounds out its repertoire with their own arrangements of European and American classical music and other cultures around the world.

Their rich, multi-tonal voices are as adept at singing “Elijah Rock” as they are handling “O Fortuna” from “Carmina Burana,” evidenced at a recent concert at the Union Wesley AME Zion Church in northeast Washington, where they performed the first concert of its 18th season.

The HSC is yet another venture under the direction of Stanley J. Thurston, who also directs the Washington Performing Arts Men and Women of Gospel and whose drive and talent has resulted in the Heritage Signature Chorale making its Carnegie Hall debut next March.

But before heading off to the big city, the chorale will participate in the 5th annual Colour of Music Festival this month in Charleston, S.C., and will debut Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.” In 2016 they performed at the 4th annual concert by invitation, singing Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” and Brahms’s “German Requiem” with the festival’s orchestra.

During its 16th season, the chorale performed Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” with the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Other highlights included a singing tour of Italy in 2016, where the Festivale Corale Internazionale of Rome awarded the group the prize for “Outstanding Performance.” They also performed concerts that highlighted diversity and humanity such as the Anti-Defamation League’s “Concert against Hate” and their own “Concert for Humanity” featuring the choir from Delaware State University, a premier HBCU.

“We are very excited about our upcoming concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March of 2018,” said Shebbie Robinson Rice, the chorale’s business manager. “We are in the middle of a fundraising campaign to raise funds to take local high school and college voice students with us to participate in the Carnegie Hall concert.

“What a wonderful experience that would be for them,” she said.

Donations to support the student experience can be made online on the Heritage Signature Chorale’s website, www.heritagesignaturechorale.org.

The Heritage Signature Chorale was founded by Thurston in 2000. He has appeared as conductor of choruses and orchestras at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Music Center at Strathmore, Carter Barron Amphitheatre, DAR Constitution Hall and the National Cathedral, among other important venues.

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