Palm Sundays: Gospel in the Gardens
Feb 2@1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Sunday, February 2
In honor of Black History Month, ANSG is proud to present Gospel in the Gardens. Every February since 1976, the United States has celebrated the achievements of African-Americans during Black History Month. The month-long celebration puts those accomplishments into focus through the media and in classrooms. Enjoy guided garden tours and listening to the “good news” songs of this beloved American art form. Picnic lunches and seated lunch service at Ann Norton Al Fresco will be offered. As part of its goal of keeping alive an awareness of the African-American heritage, the Ebony Chorale is dedicated to the preservation and performance of the Negro Spiritual, a song that grew out of the African-American slavery experience. Through its performances of the spirituals the chorale seeks to raise, as well as reaffirm, the great tradition and contribution made to American music by African Americans, for the lyrics of the spirituals not only represent religious ideals, but also carry several layers of social, political and theological meanings.The Ebony Chorale represents singers, most of whom are not professional musicians by vocation, who dedicate their time to striving for excellence in the performance of choral music. Each week they give of themselves to be the best vocal musicians possible. Vacations and schedules are arranged to meet the demands of rehearsals and performances. They sing for the joy and the love of music.
Founded and directed by Dr. Orville T. Lawton, The Ebony Chorale made its debut in 1992 when it performed with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of the choral movement to Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony for the dedication of the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, West Palm Beach, Florida. The Chorale has performed with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, James Judd, Conductor, and the Boston Esplanade Orchestra, Harry Rabinowitz, Conductor. The Chorale was featured in Klezmer Does The Blues, Alan Kula, producer, a celebration of the connectedness between Jewish folk music and the Negro Spiritual. Additional performances have been for the Norton Art Gallery’s Muse Series, Florida Atlantic University’s African American Heritage Celebrations, University of South Florida’s Conference on The Negro Spiritual, Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Foundation, and numerous performances and concerts at area churches and for many civic organizations. In November 2006, the Chorale performed in the West Africa Choral and Performing Arts Festival, Ghana, West Africa and in March 2008 the Chorale participated in the International Festival of Choral Music in Verona, Italy, participating in the Folk Song Competition. Choirs from 25 countries were represented at the festival. The Ebony Chorale received a Second Place Silver Award in its first international competition.
In July 2010, the Chorale traveled to Salzburg, Austria and performed in the Cantus Salisburgensis Summer Festival. The Chorale performed Mozart’s Coronation Mass in the historic Salzburg Cathedral directed by Maestro János Czifra, with an additional performance of selections from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana on the opening night of the festival. In February 2012, the Chorale participated in the Heritage Festival of Negro Spirituals in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Chorale is currently planning a singing tour to Praque, the Czech Republic and Vienna, Austria in the summer of 2013. To date, the Chorale has given over 300 performances throughout the state of Florida, as well as in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Michigan.
About The Director
Dr. Orville Lawton, Founder/Director of The Ebony Chorale, retired as the Dean of Music and Director of Keyboard Studies at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida in 2009. Dr. Lawton received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethune-Cookman College in Piano Performance, the Master of Arts degree from The University of South Florida in Vocal Music Education and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music History and Literature from the University of Florida. Currently organist at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Dr. Lawton is a former tenor soloist with the Clarion Singers, a professional chorus based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In addition to his vocal performances, Dr. Lawton is frequently called upon to accompany vocalists and instrumentalists in both solo performances and recitals.