The Arts for the Soul Music & Fine Arts Series at First Presbyterian Church will bring the American Spiritual Ensemble as its next online concert of the season. There will be two free, online events:
First, a live zoom webinar with American Spiritual Ensemble founder and director Dr. Everett McCorvey. He will discuss the history, context and hidden messages in the African American Spiritual, as well as their relevance for today’s world in light of current events unfolding in our country and beyond. This live webinar will take place Sunday, April 25, at 7 p.m.
Second, the virtual concert, “The Power of Spirituals” with the American Spiritual Ensemble Choir, is set for Sunday, May 2, at 7 p.m. This event will also be available to view through May 8.
Both events are free and can be found at https://fpclincoln.org/arts-for-the-soul/ and the Arts for the Soul Facebook page.
Tenor Dr. Everett McCorvey founded the American Spiritual Ensemble in 1995, and many of its members have performed in such venues as the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Boston Opera and Atlanta Civic Opera. They have also performed abroad in England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Scotland and Spain.
The American Spiritual Ensemble's mission is to preserve and continue the tradition of storytelling through the performance and preservation of the African American spiritual. Performing these spirituals serves as a tribute to the many lives lost or destroyed during slavery in the United States; a horrible time for humankind.
These songs, a combination of African, American and European traditions, create a new type of melody in which a sense of identification was created within the enslaved community. These songs now stand as a testament to the strength found through faith during times of hardship as well as a unifying force among all peoples. The songs are beloved all around the world.
Group members travel nationally and internationally, celebrating the music of African American slaves. Their efforts aim to preserve the music of a culture that was enslaved and forced to come to America hundreds of years ago. They also celebrate the many forms that this music has taken since its creation. Enslaved people were not permitted to speak their native language, sing their traditional songs or play their instruments. Often, individuals were separated from their families and stripped of their ways of life, forcing them to create new ways of communication to survive.
As they adjusted and incorporated some of their culture into their lives, spirituals were born. These songs became sources of comfort, hope and communication; songs of direction and faith. Today, there are over 6,000 Black American melodies. Around 3,000 of those melodies have been documented, while many more were passed down through oral tradition.
These are all free events. For more information, contact First Presbyterian Church at 402-477-6037, or go to http://fpclincoln.org/ and click on Arts for the Soul.