Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

The American Spiritual Ensemble, Live in Quito – 23 Images

Soprano Andrea Jones-Sojola, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings "Lord I Have Seen" at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito's historical center district.

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.

Everett McCorvey in Quito
Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, at a concert in the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in the historical center of Quito, Ecuador.

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!

The American Spiritual Ensemble in Quito
Members of the American Spiritual Ensemble perform at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.
Kenneth Overton (Left), Larry Hylton (Center) and Sam McKelton (Right) in Quito
Kenneth Overton (Left), Larry Hylton (Center) and Sam McKelton (Right), members of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sing “Sit Down Servant” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Kevin Thompson in Quito
Operatic bass singer Kevin Thompson, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Sam McKelton
tenor Sam McKelton, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs “Two Wings” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Matthew Truss and alto Hope Koehler in Quito
Altos Matthew Truss and alto Hope Koehler, members of The American Spiritual Ensemble, perform in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Hope Koehler in Quito
Alto Hope Koehler of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings the song “I Wanna be Ready” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Jeryl Cunningham-Fleming in Quito
Soprano Jeryl Cunningham-Fleming, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings the song “Anchored in de Lord” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Kenneth Overton in Quito
Operatic baritone Kenneth Overton, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, pauses briefly during a performance of the song “Been in the Storm so Long” at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Everett McCorvey in Quito
Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, with Jeryl Cunningham-Fleming in Quito, Ecuador.
Andrea Jones-Sojola in Quito
Soprano Andrea Jones-Sojola, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings “Lord I have Seen” at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.
Denisha Ballew in Quito
Soprano Denisha Ballew, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings “Soon I will be Done With the Trouble of the World” at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.
Everett McCorvey in Quito
Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, directs the group at a concert in the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Kenneth Overton in Quito
Baritone Kenneth Overton, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings the song “My God is a Rock” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Larry Hylton in Quito
Tenor Larry Hylton, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs “My Soul is a Witness” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Sabrina Carten
Alto Sabrina Carten, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs “You Must Have That True Religion” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Kevin Thompson in Quito
Operatic bass singer Kevin Thompson, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs “Go Down Moses” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Matthew Truss in Quito
Alto Matthew Truss, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs “There’s a Man Going Round” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Sam McKelton
Operatic tenor Sam McKelton, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs “Old Time Religion” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Martin Hargrove in Quito
Baritone Martin Hargrove, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs “No More Auction Block” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Kevin Thompson in Quito
Operatic bass singer Kevin Thompson, a member of The American Spiritual Ensemble, performs in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
Everett McCorvey in Quito
Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, at a concert in the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.
All images © Bob Ramsak 2015. All rights reserved. High resolution images available.
For stock or editorial use please check out the 23 images field for Demotix / Corbis, or get in touch.
For print purchases please visit here; for greeting cards and post cards here.
If you’d like a print or card of an image not yet listed in those portfolios, let me know. I’ll be happy to make it available.

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.

 

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
You might also like
4 Comments
  1. Kendall says

    Brilliant photography. I feel the emotions and I almost hear the music. It’s so hard to get the lighting right with stage lights. You are amazing.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks Kendall. This church is difficult lighting-wise – fortunately there was some good lighting on the ‘stage’. A truly fabulous performance. Don’t miss them if they’re ever passing through Portland.

  2. lisa says

    Bob, these images are amazing! It’s my loss that I wasn’t there…

    thanks for transporting us there via this post!

    1. Bob R says

      Always my pleasure. 🙂 Track down some of their music when you get a chance. (But no, it won’t be the same as it was in the Iglesia de la Merced. 😉 )

Thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: