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Gospel Choirs Poised for ‘Level Next’ in Season Finale Concert

Stellar Award-winning gospel legend Richard Smallwood will be the featured special guest at the Washington Performing Arts’ season finale concert Friday at the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Md.

The program, “Level Next: A Celebration of Gospel Choirs,” will also feature WPA’s two choirs — Men and Women of the Gospel Choir and Children of the Gospel Choir.

“Although gospel as a genre has flourished over the decades, the key role of the choir in gospel music isn’t always as appreciated as it should be,” said Theodore Thorpe III, artistic director of the Men and Women of the Gospel Choir. “With the rise of praise teams and smaller ensembles leading worship services and concerts, the choir has somewhat been an afterthought.

“We must remember that the choir is a direct physical, spiritual, and emotional representation of the people to whom they minister,” he said. “For the congregation, parishioner, and audience member, it is a relationship with which they can tangibly and vocally identify. That powerful distinction cannot be overstated.”

With more than 50 years of history between the two choirs — deemed the DMV’s finest choral groups — the ensembles join voices to celebrate their prominence as staples on the local gospel music scene.

In addition, DMV-based singer and choir director Monique Steele-Griffiths will render a performance on the program that showcases the proud legacy of choral music in the gospel tradition and takes a joyous look toward the music’s future with multiple generations of singers performing old-school hits, contemporary classics and more.

Tickets for the event are $35-$75 and $10 for students of all ages (with valid ID).

The Music Center at Strathmore is located at 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda. For more information, go to washingtonperformingarts.org.

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