Westobou Festival will include performances of faith

Artistic & spiritual

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Next weekend at St. Paul’s Church, one of the finest chorale groups in the country will perform a selection of spirituals and hymns during the 4th annual Westobou Festival, said Keith Shafer, the director of music at the downtown Episcopal church.

THE NEW ENGLAND SPIRITUAL ENSEMBLE  WHAT: The New England Spiritual Ensemble interprets traditional spirituals.  WHEN: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 2  WHERE: St. Paul's Church, 605 Reynolds St.   COST: $25  LEARN MORE: Call (706) 755-2878.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
THE NEW ENGLAND SPIRITUAL ENSEMBLE WHAT: The New England Spiritual Ensemble interprets traditional spirituals. WHEN: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 2 WHERE: St. Paul's Church, 605 Reynolds St. COST: $25 LEARN MORE: Call (706) 755-2878.

“It’s what Westobou is all about. They’re bringing some groups to Augusta that wouldn’t normally make it here,” Shafer said.

The New England Spiritual Ensemble performs at the church Oct. 2. It’s one of several events hosted at local churches during the 10 days of the Westobou Festival.

The city’s celebration of the arts features dance, music, theatre, film and visual arts starting Thursday through Oct. 8.

“Faith is a huge part of Augusta. We wanted a festival that incorporates the roots and history of Augusta, Ga. We’re bluesy. We’re jazzy. We’re artistic and we’re spiritual,” said Molly McDowell, the festival’s curator and art director.

More than 50 performances showcasing local, regional and national talent are included in this year’s festival.

The New England Spiritual Ensemble is one of those national acts, Shafer said.

“They’re impressive. They don’t even need microphones,” he said.

The group sings spirituals, not gospel, which is an important distinction to make, Shafer said.

“Spirituals are some of the most native of all American musical forms,” he said. “This is not gospel, but spirituals, many of them sung in their original form.”

The festival includes an annual organ and chamber series, which features local talent in three chamber performances and four organ performances over four days.

“It’s a big part of the festival,” McDowell said. “The organ and chamber events are so well attended. They have a loyal following.”

Other events, though not held in churches, address issues of faith. An art exhibit and live performance at Paine College are based on the epic poem I Waltzed With God The Morning Of Genesis. The stage production includes music, dance, spoken word, art and fashion, while the exhibit, open Oct. 2 through Nov. 2, features the work of Augusta artist Nancy Wellington Bookhart.

“It’s a diverse group of events,” McDowell said. “We can’t wait to see what people will think of them.”

Some featured 2011 Westobou Festival events

I WALTZED WITH GOD THE MORNING OF GENESIS

WHAT: A live performance and art exhibit featuring music, dance, spoken word, fashion and the work of Augusta artist Nancy Wellington Bookhart.

THE ART: A free exhibit is open Oct. 2 to Nov. 30 in the Paine College Collins-Calloway Library, 1235 15th St. A reception will be held in the library from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 2.

THE PERFORMANCE: The live show is 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Paine College’s Gilbert Lambuth Chapel, 1235 15th St. Tickets are $7 to $15.

LEARN MORE: See westoboufestival.com for more information or call (706) 755-2878 for tickets.

WESTOBOU CHAMBER SERIES

EXOTIC VOCAL MASTERPIECES: Noon Oct. 3; featuring Tonya Currier, soprano; Martin David Jones, piano; Robert Foster, flute; and Ruth Berry, cello; St. Paul’s Church, 605 Reynolds St.; Free

FRENCH MODERNISM IN MUSIC AND ART: Noon Oct. 4; featuring Martin David Jones and Clara Park on piano; St. John United Methodist Church, 736 Greene St.; Free

ACROSS THE ATLANTIC: ART SONG FROM ENGLAND AND AMERICA: NOON OCT. 6; FEATURING DIANE HASLAM, MEZZO SOPRANO; CAROL COOK, PIANO; AND CHRISTINE CROOKALL, CELLO; ST. JOHN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 736 GREENE ST.; FREE

WESTOBOU ORGAN SERIES

CHRISTOPHER JACOBSON:12:30 p.m. Oct. 3; St. Paul’s Church, 605 Reynolds St.; Free

MATTHEW MANWARREN: 12:30 p.m. Oct. 4; St. John United Methodist, 736 Greene St.; Free

SARAH HAWBECKER: 2:30 p.m. Oct. 4; St. John United Methodist, 736 Greene St.; Free

MARYA ORLOWSKA-FANCEY: 2 p.m. Oct. 5; Church of the Most Holy Trinity, 811 Telfair St.; Free

COMFORT AND JOY

WHAT: Masterpieces of Early Music, performed by the Cecilia Ensemble

WHEN: 4 to 5:15 p.m. Oct. 8

WHERE: St. Paul’s Church, 605 Reynolds St.

COST: $25

LEARN MORE: Call (706) 755-2878.


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