Friday, January 29, 2016

Charleston Spiritual Ensemble presents Jews & Blacks: Parallels of Our Past Sunday, February 28, 2016, 5 PM at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, 90 Hasell Street

David A. Richardson

January 28, 2016 Charleston SC—The Charleston Spiritual Ensemble, a 35-member vocal group focusing on traditional African-American spirituals, joins members of the Charleston Gospel Choir in honor of African-American History Month on Sunday, February 28, 2016 with a unique musical performance entitled Jews & Blacks: Parallels of Our Past. The event will take place at 5:00pm at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), 90 Hasell Street, downtown Charleston.
Music Director David A. Richardson will lead the group in a moving tribute to the history of Black-Jewish encounters in America over the past five decades, in particular the role of the organized Jewish community in the civil rights movement and their natural alliance in the battle for civil rights. This communal relationship supported both Black and Jewish agendas to combat hatred and discrimination through social action and make common cause toward greater rights for all minorities.
Spirituals and other songs including sacred and folk songs were commonly performed during the height of the civil rights movement. This music expressed how strife was soothed by call and response singing that was the norm on southern plantations throughout the South during slavery. The performance’s selections will be accompanied by historical footnotes from Dr. Karen A. Chandler of the College of Charleston.
Charleston Spiritual Ensemble President and event producer Lee Pringle says, “This concert is autobiographical as my parents greatly benefitted from the kindness of the Jewish community when they migrated to Harlem and later to Spring Valley, New York in the early 1960s from the Jim Crow South. The manner in which Jews treated our family was never forgotten.” Pringle later join a group of progressive Jews and Blacks, The African-American Jewish Connection (AAJC), which was among the first organized groups to call for the removal of the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina State House in 1991.   

David A. Richardson, Director says, “The Spiritual was and is a powerful method to protest peacefully. Fifty years after landmark civil rights advances it’s still important to remind adults and teach our children about our parallel past. Music is a wonderful way to chronicle history and I am honored to be a part of this important event.”

Free Symposium Wednesday, February 24: Jews and Blacks Parallels of Our Past
A free colloquium featuring Charleston-area Jewish and Black leaders will take place in advance of the performance Wednesday, February 24 at 6:00pm at the Charleston County Main Library Auditorium. 

Learn more about the relationship of the Jewish and Black communities in the historical context both nationally as part of the civil rights movement and locally in the Charleston community. The event will feature remarks by Marty Perlmutter, Director of Jewish Studies and Dr. Bernard Powers, Professor of African-American Studies at the College of Charleston, Eileen Chepenick, former Executive Director of the Charleston Chapter of Operation Understanding and others. Free and open to the public

Performance Tickets/Information
Sunday, February 28, 2016 • 5:00pm
Jews & Blacks: Parallels of Our Past
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, 90 Hasell Street, downtown Charleston
General Admission tickets: $20 adults; children or students $10 with ID
Online:; by phone: (866) 811-4111; at door: (cash/check only) up to one hour before performance

About the Charleston Spiritual Ensemble
Now in its eighth year, the Charleston Spiritual Ensemble is a 35-member vocal group based in Charleston focusing on African-American spirituals and sacred and black classical contributions to musical music. The Ensemble’s core musical offering honors the devout musical tradition that African-Americans formed as slaves after arriving in this country and in particular its relevant history in South Carolina. The spiritual has shaped and inspired the evolution of classically trained African-American composers and arrangers.

About Music Director David A. Richardson
A recipient of the prestigious Charleston Southern University Horton School of Music Senior Excellence Award for his exceptional work in the area of Choral Music Education, Mr. Richardson is a noted baritone soloist who has garnered the admiration of the choral community throughout the Carolinas. He serves as Music Director of the Charleston Gospel Choir, now in its 15th season, and the Charleston Spiritual Ensemble. As a professional vocalist, he toured the United Kingdom, Scotland, Austria, and Prague, where he performed with the CSU concert choir to much acclaim.

An accomplished pianist, Mr. Richardson has served as Music Director for several regional productions and has accompanied choral programs and honor choirs at all levels, including three seasons with the University Children’s Choir. Mr. Richardson serves as Director of the Vocal Music Arts program at Rollings Middle School of the Art and is the former Director of Choral Activities at Fort Dorchester High School and Band Director and Music Specialist in the Berkeley County School District.

Mr. Richardson is the Director of Vocal Music for the annual Charleston Southern University Music Camp and the Oconee County Choral Festival. In addition, Mr. Richardson has conducted performances with orchestra including Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Martini’s Domine Adjuvandum Me Festina, and Telemann’s Jehovam Omnes Gentes with chamber orchestra and is an accomplished organist and pianist. Mr. Richardson earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education with voice emphasis from Charleston Southern University. He is currently a candidate for the Master of Music Education degree at Kent State University.

Comment by email:
Yes! What specific songs/pieces will be performed during the program?  Thanks
John Malveaux

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