WEST PALM BEACH — The Ebony Chorale of the Palm Beaches, Inc. is celebrating 20 years of choral excellence this month with a gala banquet and concerts starting May 17.
The chorale represents singers, most of whom are not professional musicians by vocation, who dedicate their time to striving for excellence in the performance of choral music.
As part of its goal of keeping alive an awareness of the African-American heritage, the chorale is dedicated to the preservation and performance of the Negro Spiritual, a song that grew out of the African-American slavery experience.
Through its performances of the spirituals the chorale seeks to raise, as well as reaffirm, the great tradition and contribution made to American music by African Americans, for the lyrics of the spirituals not only represent religious ideals, but also carry several layers of social, political and theological meanings.
Each week the members give of themselves to be the best vocal musicians possible. Singing for the joy and the love of music, vacations and schedules are arranged to meet the demands of rehearsals and performances.
Members, fans and supporters will recognize the chorale’s 20 years of dedication with several events:
The Visiting Choirs Concert, Thursday May 17, 7 p.m., Palm Beach Lakes High School, 3505 Shiloh Drive, West Palm Beach, tickets $20;
The Anniversary Gala Banquet, Saturday, May 19, 6:30 p.m., Airport Hilton, 150 Australian Ave., $60;
The 20th Anniversary Gala Concert, Sunday May 20, Palm Beach Lakes High, $20.
A package deal of the banquet and two concerts, $90, is being offered. Contact Barbara McCray, 561-683-7929, 561-329-7468 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or any member of the Chorale.
Founded and directed by Orville T. Lawton, Ebony Chorale made its debut in 1992 with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, in a performance of the choral movement to Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony, for the dedication of the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.
The chorale has since given more than 300 performances throughout Florida, as well as in Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan and abroad, while distinguishing itself as one of the finest choral ensembles.
The chorale performed with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, James Judd, conductor, and the Boston Esplanade Orchestra, Harry Rabinowitz, conductor.
In addition the chorale has served as the backup choir for the Colors of Christmas concerts, a Stig Edgren production, featuring such outstanding artists as Roberta Flack, Peabo Bryson, James Ingram, Aaron Neville, Melissa Manchester, Sheena Easton and Patti Austin.
The chorale was featured in Klezmer Does The Blues, Alan Kula, producer, a celebration of the connectedness between Jewish folk music and the Negro Spiritual.
Additional performances have been for the Norton Art Gallery’s Muse Series, Florida Atlantic University’s African American Heritage Celebrations, the University of South Florida’s Conference on The Negro Spiritual, Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Foundation and numerous performances and concerts at area churches.
In November 2006 the Chorale performed in the West Africa Choral and Performing Arts Festival, in Ghana, West Africa, and in March 2008 in the International Festival of Choral Music in Verona, Italy, participating in the Folk Song Competition. Choirs from 25 countries were represented at the festival. The Ebony Chorale received a second place Silver Award in its first international competition.
In July 2010, the chorale traveled to Salzburg, Austria and performed in the Cantus Salisburgensis Summer Festival. The chorale performed Mozart’s Coronation Mass in the historic Salzburg Cathedral directed by Maestro János Czifra, with an additional performance of selections from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana on the opening night of the festival.
Lawton, founder/director of The Ebony Chorale, is retired dean of Music and director of Keyboard Studies at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. He received the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music History and Literature from the University of Florida.
Currently Lawton is director of Church Music at Trinity United Methodist Church and organist at St. Ann Catholic Church, both in West Palm Beach.
Lawton is a former tenor soloist with the Clarion Singers, a professional chorus based in Fort Lauderdale. In addition to his vocal performances, he is frequently called upon to accompany vocalists and instrumentalists in both solo performances and recitals.
The chorale’s CD Cassette recording entitled A Spiritual Journey has enjoyed success and is in its third release. The group is available for full concerts and guest appearances.
Contact The Ebony Chorale, Box 15141, West Palm Beach, FL 33416, or contact the director at 561-601-6925 or email@example.com
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Ebony Chorale’s 20th Anniversary Celebration
EVENTS: Visiting Choirs Concert, Thursday May 17, 7 p.m., Palm Beach Lakes High School, 3505 Shiloh Drive, West Palm Beach, tickets $20. Anniversary Gala Banquet, Saturday, May 19, 6:30 p.m., Airport Hilton, 150 Australian Ave., $60. 20th Anniversary Gala Concert, Sunday May 20, Palm Beach Lakes High, $20. Package Deal: two concerts and banquet, $90.
CONTACT: Barbara McCray, 561-683-7929, 561-329-7468 or firstname.lastname@example.org