The South Carolina Music Guide

Special Report – Westminster Choir Visits Spoleto

Photo Provided by Spoleto

As the 2017 Spoleto Festival USA takes almost all the stages available in Charleston, the Westminster Choir under the direction of Maestro Joe Miller, is one stage not to be missed. The Westminster Choir, 40 strong, has been the choir-in-residence for Spoleto since its inception in 1977. And each year festival-goers highly anticipate their repertoire and their return.

Praised by the New York Times for its “full-bodied, incisive singing” the Westminster Choir will surely demonstrate these skills and more as they offer a program entitled A Thousand Years to Live.  Both the May 29 and June 3 events, held at Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul at 5pm, will feature a diverse collection of works in their 75-minute program.

Selections from contemporary American composers Paul Crabtree, Dominick Di Orio, and Kile Smith should bring imaginative and emotional satisfaction to both seasoned listeners and those curious about new trends in choral music. Brahms’s Three Songs, op. 42 for a cappella choir and Uģis Prauliņš’s Laudibus in Sanctis should surprise classical listeners in a superb way. And traditional music performed in the Sacred Harp and Ring Shout traditions will surely bring concert-goers to their feet.

As the hearts of concert-goers fill in wonder at the music performed by Westminster Choir College, the hearts of the performers may be filled with some distress. Located in Princeton, NJ and an affiliate of Rider University, students, alumni, faculty, and friends just recently protested, through word and song, the possible removal of Westminster Choir College from its home, a home held since 1934, due to an effort by Rider, reports, to “boost enrollment (for Rider, not WCC) and close a potential $13.1 million shortfall by 2019.” Now, they wait to see if their renowned music college will still be home to future and former students on its unique campus in Princeton, NJ. Negotiations are taking place, fingers are crossed.

Spoleto Festival USA 2017 has the unique opportunity to show support for our choir-in-residence, the choir of extraordinarily talented students from Westminster Choir College. As we wait for the music from their throats to lift us up, we can offer them an extra special Charleston welcome, something we have a little talent in ourselves.

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