I had the great fortune to attend a concert last night by The American Spiritual Ensemble, a group comprised of some of the finest opera singers in the world. It was the third concert of the four I’ve attended in Quito in recent weeks that moved me to tears.
Founded in 1995 by Everett McCorvey (below, snapping his fingers to “When the Saints”), the group’s mission is to preserve the tradition of the negro spiritual, one of the oldest musical forms of the post-colonial U.S., with a repertoire that ranges from spirituals and the classics to gospel and Broadway.
The members are seasoned opera performers and soloists as well as well-traveled minstrels of the art form, performing regularly at the Metropolitan, New York City, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta Civic Operas, as well as with companies around the world.
The group is in the Ecuadorean capital for a three-performance visit as part of the city’s Holy Week Musica Sacra Festival. The setting for last night’s 18-piece performance, the early 18th century Iglesia de la Merced in the city’s historical center, couldn’t have been better.
The highlight? Picking one is an impossible chore, so I’ll offer four:
“No More Auction Block / Go Down Moses”, the first to give me goosebumps, performed by Martin Hargrove and Kevin Thompson; Denisha Ballew’s moving rendition of “Soon I Will be Done With the Trouble of the World”; Matthew Truss’s powerful treatment of “There’s a Man Going Round”; and Andrea Jones-Sojola’s uplifting “Lord I Have Seen”.
Twenty-three photos in all. Enjoy!
All images © Bob Ramsak 2015. All rights reserved. High resolution images available.
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And for the record: the lead photo of Andrea Jones-Sojola performing “Lord I Have Seen” serves as today’s Pic du Jour, the blog’s 444th (!!) straight.