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Gospel Meets Symphony celebrating 20th anniversary concert

2/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

New World Performance Laboratory’s co-founder Jairo Cuesta is shown in “Gilgamesh: He Who Saw Everything,” which the theater company will perform in March.
Photo: Andrew McAllister
DOWNTOWN AKRON — For the 20th year in a row, the Akron Symphony Orchestra (ASO) will join forces with a 200-plus voice gospel choir for Gospel Meets Symphony, which will take place Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall.

For those who haven’t been to one of these events, Gospel Meets Symphony is a mixture of musical talents and genres, according to ASO officials.

ASO Music Director Christopher Wilkins will lead the orchestra, as Gospel Meets Symphony Chorus Master Jennifer Mekel Jones will take up her post with the mass choir.

“Gospel is all about good news. Symphony brings musical genius to life. Each can stand alone, but it’s pure magic to see them come together,” said Jones. “This year, we will tell the stories and breathe new perspective into old tradition. It’s all about a promise, and I assure you you won’t be able to stay in your seat.”

The concert will feature performances by Divine Hope (which appeared at the first concert), YEPAW and the LeGrair Brothers (who performed at last year’s event). Eric Benjamin, former associate music conductor of the ASO, will guest conduct the orchestra when it performs the classical music section of the concert’s program. Cleo Myricks, who was the first chorus master for the event, will serve as guest conductor of the huge singing group this year.

According to ASO officials, Ann Lane Gates is the honorary chair of this year’s event. She was instrumental in helping launch Gospel Meets Symphony in the early 1990s and chaired the event for the first six years.

“We will be honoring all of our previous chairs and our music directors,” said Brenda Justice, the chair of this year’s concert.

Aside from familiar faces and returning music and performances, there will still be some new faces and talent brought forth during the event.

Tickets are $22 to $52 and are available at the Thomas Hall Box Office by calling 330-972-7570 or through the ASO at 330-535-8131 or www.akronsymphony.org.

Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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