The Quinebaug Valley Singers return to some of their favorite music this Spring with a program comprised of African songs and white and black American gospel music. From Africa come the South African freedom songs and spiritual songs "Singabahambayo," "Ipharadisi," "We Shall Not Give Up the Fight," "Siyahamba," and "Freedom is Coming." Also from South Africa is the magical "Moon is Walking," composed by Joseph Shabalala of the singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which collaborated with Paul Simon for his amazing album Graceland. Our African segment will also include the Angolan folk song "O, Desayo" and the lovely South African lullaby "Tula," written for women's voices.

Returning across the Atlantic Ocean, we'll honor the musical genius of African-American slaves with the spirituals "Steal Away," "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See," "Now Let Me Fly," "There is a Balm in Gilead," "Woke Up This Morning," "Ride the Chariot," "Elijah Rock," and "Rock-a My Soul," in modern arrangements--some simple and moving, others multi-layered and thrilling.

From the American gospel tradition come "The Land of Beulah," "We're Marching to Zion," "Daniel Prayed," and "River in Judea" from white hymn-writers and composers, and "The Storm is Passing Over," "You Can't Hurry God," and an anonymous setting of the famous "Amazing Grace" text from black authors and musicians. We'll also recognize the American Civil Rights movement with inspirational songs like "Freedom is a Constant Struggle."

QVS Music Director Nym Cooke says he's "thrilled with this program. It'll be fun, deeply spiritual, really happy--and it will ROCK. Come prepared to 'ride the chariot' of freedom songs and spirituals and gospel hymns, to a place of musical bliss!"

During our Spring 2014 season, we held a raffle for three beautiful handmade items: a quilt, a crocheted afghan, and a knitted lap robe (click picture to enlarge). The drawing was held at our May 31st concert.


This year, QVS Music Director Nym Cooke asked the members of the chorus to choose the pieces for the concert. Many individuals submitted their personal holiday favorites, and the program developed from there. It’s likely that many members of the public will share a liking for the songs offered by QVS. They include such Christmas classics as “O Holy Night” (in a gorgeous arrangement by John Rutter), “The Holly and the Ivy,” “And the Glory of the Lord” from Georg Frideric Handel’s Messiah, “Carol of the Bells,” and the ever-popular “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in a very jazzy harmonic setting.

But there is also more unusual, less frequently performed fare, such as “Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913” (made popular by John Denver), the French carol “O Come, Divine Messiah” in an arrangement by QVS alto Sarah Jo Burke’s father Walter V. Burke, John Rutter’s lovely “Christmas Lullaby,” and the Hanukkah song “Light One Candle” by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary.

And there will be some special treats, such as the early American fuging tune “Sherburne” used as a setting for the words of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the haunting duet “Mary, Did You Know?,” and just possibly Morten Lauridsen’s transcendent “O Magnum Mysterium.” .