TALLMADGE — The Tallmadge Lutheran Church Chancel Choir has been invited to join a mass choir of 275 choristers from around the country to perform "Sing Christmas," a Christmas Cantata by Mary McDonald and Joel Raney Nov. 14-17 on the Carnegie Hall stage.
"We are so thrilled to have our people represent the Tallmadge community with this kind of opportunity," said director Bryon Black II.
Distinguished Concerts International New York had formed most of the choir but needed another group, Black said. They saw a video on the Tallmadge Lutheran Church website showing the choir performing McDonald's "Mercy Tree" on Easter last year.
"They were so impressed by our musicianship and passion, they reached out to ask us, the TLC Chancel Choir, to join their chorus to perform Mary’s Christmas Cantata in November on the Carnegie Hall stage," Black said.
DCINY is a professional concert series that produces large, grand-scale concerts on stages such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Black said. They often involve a large mass-choir of singers who have auditioned or been selected from around the world, performing with a big name in classical or modern music.
Black said 18 of the choir's singers/members will be going on the trip to perform in New York, along with a few "VIP" or family guests who will be able to see rehearsals and the concert.
"We are excited for this new, unique opportunity to share the gospel of Christ as we join a body of other singers and the leading musical professionals," he said.
Black has been director of music since June 2015 and has a master’s degree in music choral directing from Kent State University. He works at KSU as an adjunct professor in the choral department.
Black worked with Chuck Cobb at The Vine Fellowship Church in Copley where he sang and was section leader while he was a student. When Janice Cobb retired from her music ministry job at Tallmadge Lutheran Church, Black stepped into the position.
The church choir encourages people in their faith and to be involved in the church, Black said. People listening in the congregation can connect and appreciate the music.
The choir will begin rehearsing the music in August and will perform the "Sing Christmas" cantata at Tallmadge Lutheran Church in December.
"We'll integrate this piece into our normal December cantata," Black said. "We'll share [the music] with everyone at church and those who go to New York will sing it again."
The group at Carnegie Hall will be made up of different denominations, but the music is based on traditional beliefs they can rally behind as singers and faith believers, Black said.
"The cantata follows the significant activities of the nativity and Christ's story which paved the way for salvation and the Christian experience," Black said.
Many people in the church choir have attended Tallmadge Lutheran Church for a long time and perform with other groups.
"This is what they love do do," Black said. "Singing."
Kevin Mowers has been a member of the choir for two years. "It truly is a humbling thought," he says of the invitation. "I do not consider myself a talented musician in any way, but to have the opportunity to perform in the same hall as some of the world’s greatest is something that I am excited to do. I am absolutely thrilled for this opportunity and so excited for the members of the choir that will be traveling to New York. This group has worked so hard over the years and to have that work showcased in such a manner is an honor."
Cindy Strand said she sang in choir in high school and has been a member of the church choir for more than a year. "I've been in small performances but this is going to be an amazing opportunity to be part of a large group of singers and performing at Carnegie Hall," Strand said. "The honor of not only representing the church but our community of Tallmadge is amazing."
Mowers said being a part of the choir "has changed my life. I have come to realize the importance of finding joy in my life. Music gives me joy. Getting to perform and spend time with this wonderful group has been an absolute joy and blessing from the Lord."
He added, "To be able to give back through song is an amazing way to minister to others. When we perform, my hope is that those listening will hear the beautiful message that is delivered each time we sing. Music has a way of delivering a message that impacts each of us in a deep and meaningful way. When people hear us perform, I hope that they find their purpose in that moment. Music can truly change your life if you open up and listen."
Strand said having Distinguished Concerts International New York find them on Facebook and invite them was a great honor and said she credits Black for the invitation.
"He's phenomenal," Strand said. "He brings out the best in people."
Although the trip is expensive, Strand said her husband agrees it is a "once in a lifetime experience."
"I can say I represented our church on stage singing in Carnegie Hall," Strand said. "I hope our community realizes the honor to perform and supports us."
"The Lord works in mysterious ways," Mowers said. "Sending a small church choir to Carnegie to share the good news through song is such a marvelous and mysterious work of the Lord."
Plans for raising funds for the trip are underway with a GoFundMe account https://www.gofundme.com/send-the-tlc-choir-to-carnegie-hall and voice recital at the Tallmadge church in March, Black said. The music concerts and choral collaborations with KSU's music department would be open to the community with an admission rate to help fund the trip.
Anyone interested in donating for the trip, can send a check to Tallmadge Lutheran Church, 759 East Ave., Tallmadge 44278 with attn: Choir DCINY.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org