Winter concert Sunday in Florence will feature ‘Choral Masterpieces’

March 7, 2019 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Masterworks Choir will present its winter concert titled “Choral Masterpieces” at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The free concert will be held in the sanctuary at Central United Methodist Church at 167 S. Irby St. in downtown Florence.

The 73 singers will be directed by William Carswell and accompanied by Beverly Hazelwood on organ and piano and a chamber orchestra of 18 instrumentalists.

This is the second concert of the choir’s 40th anniversary season, celebrating four decades since the late Bill Mills formed the community choir for the purpose of bringing regular performances of serious choral music to Pee Dee audiences.

Parking is available in the church lot and across the street in the city parking garage. An offering will be taken.

Featured will be choral masterpieces by the greatest composers of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Bruckner and Brahms. Also represented in the program is C. Hubert H. Parry, an early 20th-century composer of sacred music; and Hall Johnson, an African-American conductor and arranger noted for his arrangements of spirituals.

The choir will conclude its program with Johnson’s rousing “Ain’t Got Time to Die,” featuring tenor Shaw Thompson.

The central work is Mozart’s baroque masterpiece “Solemn Vespers” in six movements: the first five take their texts from Psalms, and the dazzling final movement uses the text of the Magnificat. Soloists are Chrissy Welch, Tara McCormick, Will Daniel and Sheldon Withrow.

Beethoven’s Hallelujah from “Christ on the Mount of Olives” and Brahms’ “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place” will be familiar to many. Soloists include Kristen Hardaway, Brandon Frost, Kevin McCormick, Matt Simms and Duane Westfall.

“It is an exciting time for the choir, our community and our audiences,” Carswell said, referring to the 40th-anniversary season.

Following its local season finale concert in May, 49 members of the choir will depart on a choir tour through Central Europe, including performances in Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; and three cities in Austria: Vienna, Salzburg and Melk.

The Masterworks Choir is a nonsectarian auditioned choir. The members, many of whom are professional musicians and music educators, come from communities throughout the Pee Dee area.