Singing groups join to celebrate culture

Bremen junior Ryan Jones plays the piano along with Essence in Harmony, a group comprised of members of WKU Choral and the Southern Kentucky Choral Society on Monday in the Music Hall. The group will be performing on Friday in the Van Meter Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Miles Schroader

This Friday at 7:30 p.m., three groups will come together for one concert at Van Meter Hall in a performance titled “Walk Together, Children.”

The concert will feature Essence in Harmony the WKU Chorale and the Southern Kentucky Choral Society.

“We want to spread a message of peace, not only in our community, but throughout the world,” Cathryn Ellis, Danville junior and public relations intern for the Southern Kentucky Choral Society, said.

“It’s fun to be a part of an organization that involves so many different types of people who can all be united by a similar passion for music,” Ellis said.

Paul Hondorp, associate professor of music, will direct the concert.

“The seed of the concert came this summer in the midst of just watching news report after news report of continued race relations issues in our country,” Hondorp said. “It’s hard not to feel helpless to a problem so massive.”

As Hondorp tried to figure out what he was going to program this semester, he decided a concert that addressed race relations issues and encouraged peace and unity would be a positive contribution to the singers as well as the community.

One of the featured groups, Essence in Harmony, is an ensemble that performs “dynamic renditions of music and art highlighting the Black experience and African Diaspora,” according to its Facebook page.

Brittany Whitlow, graduate student and president of Essence in Harmony, said the group strives to teach children how music can be an escape.

“It is what you can use to better yourself naturally in your home, in school, in your church,” Whitlow said. When you can’t find an escape from life’s challenges, you can find music, she added.

Whitlow has been a part of the Choral Society since 2008 and will be performing on Friday night. She and Hondorp agreed the event will be very different from performances in the past.

“This actually just puts a good mile-marker on my life,” Whitlow said. “The topic of this concert is what just makes it a little more close to heart. Getting to tie in spirituals with a Renaissance work. Having the gospel mass instead of a Mozart work. It’s a way of saying, ‘Here’s what we usually do, but we’re going to jive it up a little bit.’”

The concert is different than the group’s typical November concert, Hondorp said.

“Typically, the main focus, especially from the Southern Kentucky Choral Society, is major works with chorus and orchestra, such as works from names like Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn that sort of ring familiar in the classical world,” Hondorp said. “So this is a bit of a departure for this group.”

Reporter Miles Schroader can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].