The much-heralded Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s Spiritual Ensemble will present “No Trouble at the River: The Perilous Story of the Underground Railroad,” at a special concert Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center.
The ensemble is returning to the PAC after its superb performance during the building’s gala opening weekend in September 2011. Once again the CSO will be heralding the start of something new. In this case, the ensemble’s concert is the kickoff to the PAC’s new Community Concert Series.
The Community Series is a special series of concerts hosted by the PAC and featuring South Carolina-based groups. Most will be held on Sunday afternoons. All are priced at $5 or less and are designed to bring quality entertainment, and the “PAC experience,” to a broad audience in the Pee Dee.
Tickets for the CSO Spiritual Ensemble’s concert on Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. are on sale now at the PAC box office. The tickets are $5 and may be purchased during regular box office hours (M-F, Noon to 5 p.m.). Contact the box office for more details at 843-661-4444. Groups are welcome.
“No trouble at the river …” is a tribute to the escape network of fugitive slaves known as the Underground Railroad. It was formed in the early 19th century and peaked the mid-1800’s. The Underground Railroad consisted of meeting points, secret routes, transportation and safe houses provided by abolitionist sympathizers. Escaped slaves would move north along the route from one way station to the next. "Conductors" on the railroad came from various backgrounds and included free-born blacks, white abolitionists and former slaves themselves.
Spirituals and other songs helped expressed hope for deliverance from their sorrows, and may have even been used as a code concerning railroad schedules and the like. The Spiritual Ensemble’s performance will weave a number of musical selections including No Trouble at the River, Pie Jesu, an ode to those who lost their life running for freedom, Steal Away, Wade in the Water and Keep Your Lamps among others. The music will be accompanied by historical footnotes from Dr. Karen A. Chandler regarding the history of this important freedom movement.
The CSO’s Spiritual Ensemble is a long-time dream come true of its founder and President Lee Pringle. It is a natural outgrowth of its sister organization, the CSO Gospel Choir. Both groups employ a broad range of vocal talent focusing on African-American spirituals and sacred music in a variety of performance settings. Now in its fourth season, the CSO ensemble strives to honor the devout musical tradition that African-Americans formed as slaves after arriving in this country and in particular its relevant history here in the South Carolina Low Country.
David Richardson is in his second season as Director of the CSO Spiritual Ensemble. A recipient of the prestigious Charleston Southern University Horton School of Music Senior Excellence Award for his exceptional work in the area of Choral Music Education, Richardson is a noted baritone soloist who has garnered the admiration of the Carolinas’ choral community. As a vocalist, Richardson has toured the United Kingdom, Scotland, Austria, and Prague, where he performed with the CSU concert choir to much acclaim.
Besides his work with the spiritual ensemble, Richardson serves as Director of Choral Activities at Fort Dorchester High School near Charleston. Previously he was the Director of Vocal Music for the Charleston Southern University Music Camp and the Oconee County Choral Festival.
The next event in the Community Series is the Dec. 20 Christmas Concert by the Florence Men’s Choral Society. Tickets for Community Series events go on sale approximately one month prior to the performance date.
CSO Spiritual Ensemble
“No Trouble at the River: The Perilous Story of the Underground Railroad”
Sunday, Nov. 3
FMU Performing Arts Center
Tickets: $5 at PAC box office
Contact the box office: 843-661-4444.
Community Series (all events at 3 p.m. except as noted)
• Nov. 3 – CSO Spiritual Ensemble. Tickets go on sale October 3
• Dec. 20 (7:30 p.m.) – Florence Men’s Choral Society. Tickets on sale Nov. 20
• Jan. 26 – Baritone and spiritual historian Robert Sims. Tickets on sale Dec. 9
• March 2 – Bishop Michael Blue and The Tribe. Tickets on sale Feb. 3
• April 27 – Fort Jackson 282nd Army Band. No admission charge for this event, but tickets may be picked up beginning March 27