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Black Church News in Virginia

Multi-faith ensemble to perform outdoor Norfolk concert affirming human dignity

A large ensemble of singers and players from churches, synagogues, mosques and civic organizations will come together to perform the regional premiere of Street Requiem, a multi-faith work for choir, orchestra and soloists written in memory of individuals who have died in the streets. The performance will take place at 4:30 p.m. on November 11 in the parking lot of Freemason Street Baptist Church in downtown Norfolk.

All of the participants – including many of the area’s professional singers and players – will perform as volunteers, and attendees will have an opportunity following the performance to engage with homelessness and poverty related service efforts. The concert is being produced by Freemason Street Baptist Church and the Norfolk Street Choir and is sponsored in part by the City of Norfolk.

“I am humbled and honored that so many musicians from the region are invested in this project,” said the concert’s conductor, Robert Shoup, who last year created the Norfolk Street Choir, an ensemble of singers affected by homelessness. “Because this musical piece speaks to the value and humanity of those whose lives – and deaths – have taken place in the street, it is important to us that this performance take place outdoors.” Event organizers are encouraging audience members to bring lawn chairs.

The 90 voice massed choir will be joined by The Virginia Children’s Chorus, The Norfolk Street Choir, and chamber orchestra. Street Requiem includes texts sung in Farsi, English, Latin and a South African dialect.

Written collaboratively by three Australian composers, Street Requiem was premiered in Melbourne in 2014. It has been performed in only a few American cities, making this a rare opportunity for Virginians to experience the piece in live concert. The tone of the work encompasses myriad expressions of hope, despair, joy, fear, and faith. According to the composers, “we endeavored to create an inclusive work to which people from various backgrounds and traditions could relate… Street Requiem is deliberately neither secular nor religious, intended instead to be deeply spiritual, allowing listeners to find their own faith or meaning.”

Immediately following the performance, area service organizations will be on hand to answer questions and provide opportunities for attendees to make a difference for those suffering from poverty or homelessness. Among the organizations expected to be present are Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, Blankets for the Homeless, Virginia Supportive Housing, Union Mission, Salvation Army, and the City of Norfolk Office to End Homelessness. Freemason Street Baptist Church was established at its present location in 1848, and has been in continuous operation since that time. The Church last year established The Norfolk Street Choir and regularly serves free meals that benefit those in need.

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