The Tougaloo College Concert Choir on campus at Woodworth Chapel, Dec 4, 2016

   The choir (at right, from 2006) opened with a solid performance of Bach's Cantata BWV140 "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" ("Wake, Awake, the Voice Calls Us"). with accompanist Janet Sudderth at the piano, Tremaine Ford (tenor), Bianca Jackso (soprano), and Laurence Albert (bass/baritone). It was in the opening chorus that the choir set the stage for a passionate performance. There was a tenor recitative, a soprano-bass duet, a second chorus with the cantata title "Wachet auf" (which Bach himself also transcribed into the well-known choral prelude with the same name) a second duet, and the closing chorus. The cantata was sung quite successfully in the original German.

The versatility of the choir was shown by the shift to various arrangements of spirituals and related songs including "Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal", "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need", "Some Children See Him", "Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord", "I'll Never Turn Back No 'Mo", I Thank You, Jesus", and "O Lord, Have Mercy". All of these were sung without accompaniment, and with enthusiasm which often demonstrated the vocal power of this group.

A smaller ensemble sang Smalls "Home", directed by choir member Noah Martin, and the concert was closed by a women's ensemble, with pianist Henry Young, singing two works in gospel/jazz style: "Emmanuel" and "I'm Looking for a Miracle". Soloists in the second part included Kriston Gordon (soprano), Corron Hughes (alto) and Robert Jennings (bass).

Our thanks to Director Kathy Castilla for preparing this stirring program, and in particular for the chance to hear this larger Bach work. The Bach cantatas are not often heard here, and the famous passions (Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) have never been performed here so far as I can tell, although I could be wrong. We also thank Tougaloo College for supporting this presentation for the benefit of the community.

- Glenn A. Gentry