The College of Arts and Architecture

Essence of Joy: Our Gift in Song

essence of joy
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 7:30pm
Worship Hall- Pasquerilla Spiritual Center - University Park, PA

General admission $4.99/students $2. No advance ticket purchase is available. Ticket sales begin 45 minutes prior to the concert in the lobby. Cash only.

Essence of Joy presents its annual holiday gift to the Penn State community. The music director is faculty member Anthony T. Leach.

Notes from the director: Stan Spottswood’s “Christmas Choral Medley” was premiered by Essence of Joy in 2013. It features SATB soloists, guitar and cello and involves musical quotations from several choral idioms. “Born To Die” is a Christmas oratorio that was completed by Glenn Burleigh in 1982. The excerpts performed at this concert are from Part One of this pivotal work for choir, soloists and orchestra. Essence of Joy and Essence 2 Ltd. performed excerpts from “Great Joy” in 2012. This seasonal cantata is based on familiar Christmas carols and spirituals that have been 're-mixed' within the fabric of contemporary gospel music harmonies and rhythms. “Te Deum” by Sydney Guillaume is sung in a combination of Haitian French, French and Latin. Melodic fragments and complex rhythm patterns combine in a seamless expression of awe and wonder with this historical hymn from the Catholic church. “A Light” by Carlos Simon is choral work for Advent as Christians prepare for birth of Jesus Christ. Piano and choir weave around each other effortlessly as unexpected harmonic shifts enhance the text and vocal lines. “Ave Maria” by R. Nathaniel Dett embodies the rich harmonic language of late 19th century romanticism while acknowledging the Latin chant tradition that closes this piece.

Partial Program

Jesus Is the Light of the World ♦ Kenneth Louis/Anthony Leach

Ave Maria ♦ R. Nathaniel Dett

A Light ♦ Carlos Simon

Te Deum ♦ Sydney Guillaume

Christmas Choral Medley ♦ Stan Spottswood

Born To Die ♦ Glen Burleigh

  • Born To Die
  • Magnificat

Great Joy ♦ Buryl Redd, Joseph Joubert, and Michael McElroy

  • What Child Is This?
  •  Away in a Manger
  •  Infant Lowly, Infant Holy
  • A Christmas Wish

Created in 1991, Essence of Joy sings sacred and secular music from the African and African American choral traditions. Annual University Park events include fall and spring concerts, as well as the "African American Music Festival" (February) and "Our Gift in Song" (December). The choir also regularly collaborates with other Penn State ensembles, including a performance of the Leonard Bernstein Mass in 2013. Involving undergraduate and graduate students from all academic programs at Penn State, Essence of Joy has performed throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, and Illinois. The choir has been invited to perform for conferences of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (1995, 1997, 2003), the eastern division of the Music Educators National Conference (1997, 2003), the eastern division of the American Choral Directors Association (2002, 2006, 2014, 2017), the national American Choral Directors Association (1999, 2003, 2005, 2011), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (2000). In addition, they have presented concerts at the Schomburg Museum of Black American Culture in New York City (1998, 1999, 2001). The choir has released four compact discs: "The Soul and Spirit of Essence" (1998), "Essence 'Live'" (2000), "Lift Every Voice and Sing", and "The Light" (2003). The choir made its first European tour in 2001 with concert performances in Poland and the Czech Republic. Recent tours have taken Essence of Joy members to South Africa, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Canada, Spain, and France.