Berea College Hosting Annual Festival of Spirituals February 25

Berea College will be hosting its annual Festival of Spirituals on Saturday, February 25. Events through the day will include a combination of workshops, recitals and concerts that feature presentations and performances led by members of the Berea College Music Department faculty and guest artists from other colleges as well as regional high schools.

Activities begin at 9:00 a.m. in Presser Hall Music Building on Berea’s campus. The first session, titled Singing in the Spirit, will be led by Dr. Kathy Bullock, chair of the Berea College Music Program, presenting a session of African and African American musical connections with special emphasis on the Spiritual.

Next, Raynetta Wiggins from Indiana University will lead a session called, The Spiritual in Films/Movies- Then and Now and Dr. Donna Cox from the University of Dayton will lead a Composer Spotlight session on Undine Smith Moore.

At noon, a Recital of Spirituals and Art Songs by African American Composers will be performed by Berea College Music Faculty members Shareese Arnold, Steve Bolster, Mark Calkins, Jonathan Parham, Emmanuel Stokes, Lindsay Clavere and Kathy Bullock along with guest artists Mary Jackson, a Kentucky State University administrator and former Music Professor at Bluefield State, and Demetrius Walker, the Choral Director at East Jessamine (County) High School. The recital will be in Gray Auditorium at Presser Hall.

A Choral Workshop and Festival Chorus will take place from 2:00 – 5:30 p.m. at Union Church. These choral sessions, which are open to all, will be directed by Dr. Donna Cox, Music Professor, University of Dayton; Jessica Greene, Arts and Humanities Coordinator for Jessamine County Schools; and other guest artists. The workshop participants, expected to number approximately 200 people, will learn selected songs that will be performed as the culmination of the evening concert to sing as Festival Chorus.

The Evening Concert will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Union Church. Performers will Include: Guest Soloists/Duos: Teri Davis, Myel Byrd, Liza and AJ, Al and Alice White; Berea College Ensembles: Folk Roots, Concert Choir, Black Music Ensemble, and Women’s Chorus; High School Choirs including the West Jessamine Chorus directed by Brett Burton and the East Jessamine Chorus directed by Demetrius Walker; College Groups including Maryville College’s Voices of Praise, the University of Dayton’s Ebony Heritage Singers, and McDaniel College Gospel Choir (tentative); and choirs from area churches including the Union Church Choir (Berea, KY), and First Baptist Choirs, (Richmond, KY, Collins and Francis Streets); and the Festival Chorus comprised of all of the workshop participants.

The Festival of Spirituals is open to the public, so everyone is welcome to attend all sessions and concerts and to participate in the Festival chorus.

For more information, please contact Mr. E. J. Stokes, Spirituals Coordinator at (859) 985-3466.

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College admits only academically promising students with limited financial resources, primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia, although students come from 40 states and 60 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of eight federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly, earning money for books, housing, and meals.  The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.