Virginia Wesleyan College Singers in concert

Published 8:43 pm Friday, April 8, 2011

The Virginia Wesleyan College Singers will perform a varied program from their 2010-2011 repertory on April 10 at 4:30 p.m. at Main Street United Methodist Church, 202 N. Main St. The concert is free and open to the public, but an offering will be taken.

“The Wesleyan Singers perform chamber literature for chorus including madrigals, motets, masses, and modern works for a small ensemble, as well as hymns, spirituals, jazz and lighter pieces,” notes Dr. David Clayton, conductor. “In a typical concert, you’re as likely to find an excerpt from a Renaissance Mass as you are a familiar Gershwin tune. Such varied programming ensures something familiar for each member of the audience, while often introducing new works that are destined to become choral classics.”

Working in such diverse styles provides these talented singers with musical experiences of great breadth, exemplifying the liberal arts tradition. This diversity has led to performances at the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C., and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, as well as a choreographed show at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The Wesleyan Singers often appear in area churches and schools or as a special feature for meetings, banquets, and other gatherings. Previous tours have taken them throughout the eastern United States, including appearances from Maine to Key West.

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Repertory for these concerts includes J.S. Bach’s cantata “Der Herr denket an uns” and “Five Hebrew Love Songs” by Eric Whitacre; spirituals like “A City Called Heaven” by Paul Carey, Moses Hogan’s arrangement of “Ain’t That Good News,” “Jonah” by Rollo Dilworth, and “Nothin’ Gonna Stumble My Feet” by Greg Gilpin; hymn arrangements on “Amazing Grace” by Jackson Berkey and “O How Happy are They” by Edwin Childs; and works by Eugene Butler, Eleanor Daley, Hans Leo Hassler, Rene Clausen, Stephen Foster and George Gershwin.

Pianist George Stone, of Portsmouth, earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from East Carolina University in piano performance. His quest for excellence in the art of accompanying led him to Westminster Choir College for work with noted accompanist and coach, Nancianne Parella. George also serves as piano instructor for Virginia Wesleyan and Tidewater Community College, accompanies the Western Branch High School choral program and is music director for Centenary Methodist Church in Portsmouth.

David Clayton, professor of music, comes from Union City, Tenn., and began leading choirs while still in college at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. He honed his skills working with church choirs while still an undergraduate, and became choral director at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ken. following his master’s program. Time out from teaching was taken to complete his doctorate at Florida State University before coming to Norfolk to develop the music program at Virginia Wesleyan. Choirs under his direction have performed with the Virginia Symphony and the Virginia Opera, for which he was the first chorus master. A perpetual advocate for improved musical standards from singers, he constantly strives to achieve a balance between eloquent performance and musical development in the Wesleyan choral program.