Soulful Gospel Music on Choral Sunday

NEWBURGH – People came from as far away as New York City Sunday to hear the soulful sounds of Gospel Music at the Newburgh campus of SUNY Orange.

Billed as “Choral Sunday,” the afternoon featured four local church choirs and their unique take on Gospel music.

“The four participating choirs are all from Newburgh,” noted Dorothy Szefc Coordinator of Cultural Affairs at SUNY Orange, the event’s sponsor.  She has organized this annual event for a number of years. “I’m always so delighted when I hear these wonderful groups perform. It is so uplifting”

Newburgh is a Hudson River city filled with churches. Each church possess great musical talent. Therefore it was no surprise that the Great Room was filled to capacity as people gathered to hear the choirs.

People immediately began to clap their hands, as the Ebenezer Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir began performing “My Soul Loves Jesus.” Bro. Parish Brice played the piano, as even more attendees stood up as the choir belted out, “God Is My Everything,” and “Where Do You Stand.”

Up next was the local children’s community choir, Voices of Hope Choir. The choir, a mission of St. George’s Episcopal Church, is a lively, talented group of 5 to 13 year old, elementary and middle school age children.  Led by their Music Director Rhonda Dimmie, the group performed several songs including “Kumbaya My Lord,” which was met with great appreciation.

AME Zion Church of Newburgh sent its Bishop Joseph P. Thompson Anthem Choir to represent them. The choir is a small group of female and male adults that pack a powerful punch. Pianist Grace Bowles, also doubles as a vocalist in the group, while Brianna Nicole Spencer and Aizia Rynea Smith lend their violin and cellist skills, respectively, to the group. Their unique arrangement of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” noticeably moved many in the crowd.

The last group to perform was the Mount Carmel Choir of the Mount Carmel Church of Christ Disciples of Christ. The large group of about 20 adult vocalists was under the direction of the Director of Music Maurice Williams. Leading the choir in a fashion similar to Kirk Franklin, but with a much more powerfully controlled voice, Williams masterfully elevated the choir thru a number of favorite Gospel hymns. Many in the audience were moved to their feet as the uplifting songs touched their soul.

Szefc closed out the afternoon by thanking everyone for attending and the choirs. “Today we were all privileged to hear four choirs and their beautiful voices, which give this community such joy. Thank you all for sharing!”

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