Sunday afternoon October 25, 2015, the 11th Annual James E. Handy Concert Series was held at Bank Street Memorial Baptist Church in Norfolk. This wonderful concert, which featured three Hampton Roads school choirs, was presented by the Hampton Roads Choir Directors’/Organists’ Guild. James E. Handy, known as a “church musician extraordinaire,” is a native of Woodstown, New Jersey and past Minister of Music at Antioch Baptist Church. Handy is the founder of the Hampton Roads Choir Directors’/Organists’ Guild.
The Choir Directors’/Organists Guild is an organization of Professional Musicians who are dedicated “to the maintenance, continued development and support of excellence in church music and music in general and are commissioned to provide, teach, share and preserve quality sacred music that glorifies God.” The Guild presents each year —- The Darryl E. Pollard Hymn Fest the 4th Sunday in April; and the James E. Handy Concert Series the 4th Sunday in October.
This year, as usual, the Handy Concert Series presents 3 outstanding high school choirs and a scholarship winner in concert. Scholarship winners are presented $500 each to pursue a degree in music at an accredited college or university.
The Programme began with J. Kenneth Thompson, an extremely talented guest organist, playing “Be Still My Soul.” Quentin Hicks was excellent as the Master of Ceremonies. He did the Invocation and Introduced the Performers. Donald M. Saunders Welcomed the Audience and gave the Purpose of the Occasion. Throughout the afternoon the audience sang verses of “This Little Light of Mine,” accompanied by J. Kenneth Thompson. Brandon T. Lewis, a graduate of Western Branch High School is pursuing a degree in music at Old Dominion University, is a 2015 scholarship winner who sang “Danza, Danza, Fanciulla Gentile,” and “Come Again, Sweet Love Doth Now Invite.” Lewis was accompanied by Joseph Nicholas Nespoli.
Following the performance of Brandon Lewis, The Academy of International Studies at Rosemont Chorus directed by Tameika Sawyer and accompanied by Ryan-Michael Blake sang “ E Ala E (Arise)” and “By the Waters.” Sawyer who also directs the Crossroads Elementary Choir received her undergraduate degree from James Madison University and her Master’s Degree from Cambridge College. She answered the call by the students at Rosemont, who in 2014 petitioned for a choral program. The Choral group is comprised of seventh and eighth graders. Since their inception, these young singers earned a first place trophy for participation in the Music in the Parks Competition at Busch Gardens. Dr. Daryl Crosby, who recently completed his doctoral degree, received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Hampton University. He has directed the 5th Grade Chorus of Norview Elementary School since 2001. They sang “Ode to Peace,” and Music is Fun.” It has been stated that these young children pride themselves as being the “seniors” of the school and the “voice” of the community was accompanied by the wife of the director, Dr. Jaryn Crosby. The last choir, representing the city of Portsmouth, was the I.C. Norcom High School Concert Choir which is an ensemble of 25 singers, under the direction of Chesapeake native, and Norfolk State University graduate Joe L. Harmon. He is a member of the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME), the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM) and founder of the Joe Harmon and Fresh Anointing a vibrant music ensemble that ministers throughout Hampton Roads. The Choir sang “Cantemos Alleluia,” “O Bone Jesus,” “My Heart’s in the Highlands,” and “Fare You Well.”
Toccata on “Great Day” from “Four Spirituals” by Adolphus Hailstork, the organ offertory, was beautifully played by J. Kenneth Thompson. Ann B. McInnis prayed a very reverent offertory prayer. Presentations and Awards were given by Elizabeth V. Eccles. Before she finished her presentation, Eccles offered SEVEN SECRETS of SUCCESS – CEILING –AIM HIGH; FAN – BE COOL; CLOCK – EVERY MINUTE IS PRECIOUS; MIRROR – REFLECT BEFORE YOU ACT;
WINDOW – SAYS SEE THE WORLD; CALENDAR – BE UP-TO-DATE; and DOOR – PUSH HARD TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS (anonymous). The FINALE was “Duond Akuru” performed by the combined choirs and directed by Joe Harmon. Quentin Hicks did the Benediction and guest organist J. Kenneth Thompson played the Organ Postlude – Toccato on “Amazing Grace.” Following the concert, a reception was held in the John B. Henderson Fellowship Hall at Bank Street Memorial Church.
REMEMBER TO SAVE THE DATE – 4TH SUNDAY IN APRIL 2016 for the DARYL E. POLLARD HYMN FEST!!! Information concerning the location will be announced soon.
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