Concert Incorporates Traditional Spirituals & More

SUMMIT—The Choral Art Society of New Jersey, Inc. announces a Sunday afternoon concert featuring John Rutter’s Feel the Spirit, a unique arrangement of some traditional spirituals along with some well known opera choruses and more.   The concert will take place on Sunday, May 16, at 3 p.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church, 31 Woodland Avenue, Summit.

James S. Little, Musical Director of the society, will conduct the performance which will be accompanied by Mary Beth McFall, pianist and The Choral Art Society Orchestra.  Soloists for the opera choruses are Andi Campbell, soprano and Joseph Turro, tenor.  Sharon Byrne, mezzo-soprano, is the soloist for Feel the Spirit.


Admission is $20, $15 for seniors and students, at the door.   For information call 908-654-5737 or visit the Choral Art Society’s web site at

If variety is truly the spice of life, this concert’s bill of fare should leave everybody’s taste buds singing. The selections being presented include a group of opera choruses and arias, English madrigals by masters of the form, an anthem traditionally sung at British coronations, and a three-part canon that retells the story of Macbeth. You’ll hear French and Italian, in addition to English, and even English and French together in a single piece (Tournez, Tournez). The musical styles in this cornucopia also run the gamut, from Renaissance polyphony (resulting in what Peter Schickele calls “diction friction”) through Verdi’s romanticism and onward.

The centerpiece of the program is Feel the Spirit, contemporary British composer John Rutter’s setting of seven traditional African-American spirituals. Though this music has inspired many interpretations, Rutter’s unusual combination of choir and orchestra with a mezzo-soprano soloist imparts unique color and emotional depth to these well-known melodies.  Indeed, it was mezzo-soprano Melanie Marshall’s renditions of spirituals in recital that inspired Rutter to compose the song cycle. Feel the Spirit was first performed at Carnegie Hall in 2001.

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