Essence of Joy comes to campus Feb. 6

February 03, 2009

Essence of Joy, the acclaimed student gospel choir from Penn State’s University Park campus, brings its enthusiastic performance to Penn State Harrisburg for a public concert Friday, Feb. 6.

The 7 p.m. presentation in the Capital Union Building, also featuring Penn State Harrisburg’s Capital College Choir, is free and open to the public. For information, phone (717) 948-6029.

“The performance by Essence of Joy is a fabulous opportunity for our campus and community," says Kathryn Robinson, director of the Penn State Harrisburg School of Humanities. " The excellence of this program will give individuals renewed appreciation of America's contributions to the arts; it will serve as an educational gift to musicians from Penn State and several area high schools; and it will offer the Middletown and surrounding communities an exciting evening of soulful music as well as master classes for local students.

“Programming like this serves various goals of Penn State Harrisburg’s mission: cultural enhancement, intercultural experiences, master teacher workshops and outreach to the community.”

Capital College Choir director O. David Deitz says, “I’m excited to have a choral ensemble of international renown coming here to Penn State Harrisburg. Dr. Tony Leach, the director of Essence of Joy, is one of our country’s leading experts in choral music and gospel/spiritual traditions."

He adds, “This is an event to better inform the college and external communities of both the history and performance practice of unique and truly American singing styles. It is an excellent opportunity for local high school students who are not pursuing music as a major to view Penn State Harrisburg as a place where they can continue to sing in a quality college choir.”

The day’s activities begin at 11:30 a.m. when Essence of Joy singers and Leach will be joined by Capital College Choir vocalists in delivering a workshop to high school and middle school choir members from Middletown, Lower Dauphin, Hershey, Central Dauphin East, Central Dauphin and Lebanon.

A 3 p.m. public workshop with the two college choirs in preparation for the evening concert is open to the public.

Essence of Joy is one of 10 choral ensembles in the Penn State School of Music. Organized in 1991, the choir performs sacred and secular music from the African American traditions. The group has performed throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland as well as New York, Washington, D.C., Naples, Fla., Atlanta, Memphis, Richmond, Va., Columbus, Ohio, Dayton, Ohio and Chicago.

Leach, associate professor of music and music education, is director and founder of the choir. He holds an undergraduate degree from Lebanon Valley College and a master’s and doctorate from Penn State. For 23 years, he served as music director of the Capital Area Music Association in Harrisburg. He is a past national chair of the American Choral Directors Association Repertoire and Standards Committee on Multicultural and Ethnic Perspectives and currently is minister of music and organist at New Bethel Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 06, 2010