CALMES: Choral Guild to perform at Spivey Hall

Holley Calmes

Holley Calmes

The Gwinnett Choral Guild's history is taking a new turn, one that will lead to the very prestigious performing space at Spivey Hall on Feb. 21. This concert will be the first performance the group has given in the Clayton County theater, a performing space that has offered Atlanta audiences the highest quality classical and jazz music since 1991.

The 50-plus voices of the Gwinnett Choral Guild will be on the Spivey Hall stage at 4 p.m. Feb. 21 to offer a concert titled "From Darkness into Light." Tickets are $15 for adults, and patrons can call the Spivey Hall Box office at 678-466-4200 to obtain these and to ask for discounts on senior, student and group tickets. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.spiveyhall.org.

One of the major factors in the Gwinnett Choral Guild's increased artistic excellence is their Artistic Director, G. Philip Shoultz III. Now in his 10th year with the GCG, he is very excited about the Spivey Hall event.

"It's truly hard to express in words how much this opportunity means to me," Shoultz said. "This year alone the King's Singers, soprano Christine Brewer and violinist Joshua Bell are performing at Spivey. To have the opportunity to sing on the same stage as musicians of that caliber is priceless.

"Spivey Hall is also noted around the world for its acoustics," Shoultz added. "It is considered to be one of the finest small (only seats 400) concert halls in the world. And now we, the Gwinnett Choral Guild, have a chance to represent all of Gwinnett County in performance there."

The concert itself will feature the music of American composers.

"The concert features music of American composers Samuel Barber, William Dawson, David Dickau, Moses Hogan, Morten Lauridsen and Z. Randall Stroope to name a few," Shoultz said. "The concert is a musical and poetic journey of night and day juxtaposed with spirituals and other freedom songs commemorating Black History month and the progression of the Civil Rights movement."

The Gwinnett Choral Guild has grown both artistically and by numbers under Shoultz's watch. A few years ago, the chorus made a "paradigm shift," as Shoultz calls it, from being an auditioned choir to being a choir that is truly a community choir. Though members still apply by coming to three rehearsals, all voices are welcomed.

"I must admit, it's a really energizing environment to see someone with a music degree sitting next to someone who loves to sing, but doesn't feel comfortable with his or her voice," Shoultz said. "The affirmation of everyone's giftedness really shines in our diverse environment, and the mentoring process that happens between members is what helps our group to continue its musical growth."

The Gwinnett Choral Guild has been to the Spoleto Festival and also performed with the Atlanta Sacred Chorale last year. They are working on a strategic plan to plot the future of the group, and Shoultz has many ideas about community arts organizations working together for the common good.

"The Choral Guild is in the process of making the leap into the 21st century in all phases of the organization, so we will be unveiling the 'new' look soon," he said. "We have already begun the branding process, with a new logo and new promotional materials."

For more information about the Gwinnett Choral Guild, visit www.gwinnettchoralguild.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.