Looking for Some ‘Good News,’ Crowds Drawn to New Pittsburgh Gospel Choir

From a press release, courtesy of www.marketwatch.com:

PITTSBURGH, Nov 25, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — A new constellation has joined the universe of Pittsburgh’s cultural scene, the Pittsburgh Gospel Choir (PGC). The word “gospel” means literally “good news,” which may be exactly what people are looking for in this economic climate.

A capacity crowd of over 1,200 people filled the pews and balcony of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh on a Saturday afternoon in November for the debut. They swayed, sang along, clapped, and rose to their feet for classics like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and the rousing With a Strength Not My Own. It was “an incredible turn-out for an historic moment in Pittsburgh musical history,” said the church’s business manager, Pam Kimmel.

The Pittsburgh Gospel Choir is a new ensemble operating under the administrative umbrella of the renowned River City Brass Band (RCBB). It is Pittsburgh’s first choral ensemble dedicated to the American gospel music tradition.

“The current audience for the arts and music in Pittsburgh wasn’t diversified enough,” says Ralph Murray, the local businessman who first conceived of the idea and marshaled the resources to bring it to fruition. “There had to be something that would appeal to a more representative population. Gospel is the vehicle to make that happen.” Murray says that when he first approached people with the idea of forming a gospel choir, “from the beginning, everyone liked the idea.”

Against the backdrop of America’s historic choice for the next president, the multi-ethnic aspirations of the PGC gain added relevance. Its mission includes building positive connections among participants of all races, ethnicities, and ages.

“It is my desire and hope that everyone leaves our concerts saying ‘Wow! That was a great way to spend an afternoon!'” says Artistic Director Dr. Herb Jones. For upcoming programs, he plans to offer a diverse fare of gospel music styles and voices, collaborating with orchestras, dance troupes, and chamber ensembles in at least four concerts a year, including performances at festivals and other events.

The choir’s mission statement includes the goal that “the audience leave with a smile.” For this Pittsburgh institution’s debut, mission accomplished.

Performance information will be available through the RCBB at (800) 292-7222 or www.rcbb.com.


STORY AND PHOTO SOURCE: Pittsburgh Gospel Choir

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.

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